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com presents God's Fullness


A major theme in God's Fullness is that one's view of God will ultimately shape one's religion and life. As we enter a new millennium, fear has arisen among believers and nonbelievers alike. But through God's Fullness we have attempted to unfold the saga of God's relationship with man as a wondrous story of God's redemptive love and offering of reconciliation to all humanity, showing how fear is not what is required but respect and humility as we watch and participate in God's plan for us.

Copyright 2007 Permissions and restrictions. presents Part I of God's Fullness


(Theology) God the Father (Theology) presents the limitlessness of God's presence, knowledge, and power. He is shown to be creative, historical, and moral. As Father, His relationship with us is revelatory, inspirational, and loving. As Father, He is eternal but creative, universal but selective. As Spiritual Father, He deals with our problem of separation by His process of preparation, His progress in revelation, and His plan of redemption. This section shows God to be transcendent while immanent, expansive while int imate. The language is designed to promote communication between reader and subject, teacher and student.

God's Limitlessness Perceiving God God's Omnipotence The Universal God Became Specific God's Morality Implemented - His Nature Revealed God Is Inspirational and Loving The Fatherhood of a Loving God The Fatherhood of God (2) Background for God as Our Spiritual Father The Father's Plan of Redemption Bibliography presents God the Father - Part I of God's Fullness

Lesson 1


Caution is required in discussing the nature of God. First, the word nature may be inappropriate when applied to a Being who is above all nature. The transcen dence of God is expressed on every hand, especially in the Scriptures ( Joshua 2:11). Therefore, it can be said that God is not "natural" at all; He is above nature. He is super -natural.

Second, caution is needed in attempting to explain how a God who is transcendent (above the world) is also immanent (in the world). Even the thought of a Being who is both "here" and "there" is difficult to sustain, yet this truth is expressed in Acts 17:27. Perhaps such a thought as this is what motivated J.B. Philips years ago to write an insightful little book titled, Your God Is Too Small. Without help it is impossible for us to think big enough to comprehend God. Humans need humility to contemplate seriously the nature of God. Our highest perceptions can ha rdly discern the stature of God in the fullness of His glory ( 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 4:12). Third, trying to understand God is the greatest challenge of our lives. Every person who thinks of God at all thinks of Him in a limited way. We innately realize that we are struggling with the insurmountable if we are struggling al one. Every Bible reader knows that this is the affirmation of the Scriptures ( Isaiah 55:8-9). What, then, are we to do? We reach for humility as we confess our pe rsonal limitations and inadequacies. We utilize resources other than our own and eagerly accept God's invitation to reason with Him ( Isaiah 1:18). In the study of this series, we will be studying the nature of God, how He relates to us, and how we relate to Him. This should be a thrilling adventure worthy of our combined efforts. Someone has said, "Our faith in God comes from what God says about Himself, not from what men say about Him." When we think, we think in pictures or words. It really does not matter which comes to mind, since both pictures and words are merely symbols of what we are trying to convey or perceive. This works well during the course of everyday living. We often have difficulty, however, when we try to explain what is not commonplace. How often have we said, "I know it, but I just can't 'tell' it"? The situation becomes more acute when we are dealing with something that is both uncommon and so expansive that it threatens to elude us completely. This is why it is difficult to talk about God. We cannot go far before we are out of ordinary conversationeveryday experiences and familiar words. As our thoughts expand, we find it necessary to use large r and more comprehensive words. This tends to make discussion about God become more exalted and "theological." We find ourselves on strange terrain. This may produce a bittersweet dilemma: there may be more and more talk and less and less understanding. The biblical conviction that God is unlimited with reference to His presence,

knowledge, and power is what concerns us at the moment. This, of course, assumes the existence of God. The Genesis account of creation spends no time arguing the existence or reality of God: "In the beginning [God] . . ." ( Genesis 1:1). This stance means that the Bible is basically an affirmation of God, not a plea or apologetic for Him. With the fact of God's existence as a beginning point, the biblical writers were free to discuss His nature. Fundamental to His nature is His existence. Moses found this out at the burning bush when God instructed him to say to the Israelites, "I AM has sent me to you" (Exodus 3:14). This identification had not been known previously ( Exodus 6:2-3). This continuously self-existing God was revealed to the biblical writers as unlimited in His presence, knowledge, and power ( Psalms 139:1-12; Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 10:27). Therefore, we will now consider these three attributes. That is His presence, knowledge, and power. God's omnipresence means our God is not "there" in essence. God is said to be "ubiquitous." This means that He exists, or has being, everywhere at the same time. This is also the testimony of the Scriptures (Jeremiah 23:23-24). How can this be? What is involved? When we say God is everywhere that means we could travel anywhere in the universe and never find a "vacancy" sign so far as God is concerned. Ramifications of this are far-reaching. Let us consider the fact of it. The universe is vast. We cannot possibly stretch our minds far enough to reach its limits. Our little solar system seems extensive enough. Remember how weand about a half -billion other people watched from the earth with delight and wonder as astronauts Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin cavorted on the moon? Man's footprints are now on the moon. While the moon is approximately 250,000 miles from the earth, it is still on our back porch, astronomically speaking. Now, step off the back porch into the yard and lo ok around. We see the sun above. It is about 93 million miles away. Eight other planets are circling it. Mercury, the nearest, is only 36 million miles from the sun; Pluto, the farthest, is 3.7 billion miles away. Pluto takes about 247 earth years to circl e the sun one time. At the time of this study, astronomers are convinced that another planet is beyond Pluto So much for our backyard. Let us go to the fence and look out and up. On a clear night, we can see the Milky Way, the galaxy to which our sun and all our planets belong. Research in astronomy by Milton Humason and Edwin Hubble has confirmed that our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. In addition, these galaxies or spirals are actually "island" galaxies that extend through the universe as far as p resent observation can determine. Perhaps we have gone far enough. The picture of cosmic reality is mind -boggling. It is fantastically expansive. One indication of the immensity of the universe is how it is measured. Measuring distance in miles becomes a woefully inadequate exercise. Light-year calibrations become the standard, with light traveling at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. All of this has great significance for our study about the nature of God. The term "light-year" is an expression of time. Therefore, thoughts about time are crucial for

our grasp of God. By its nature, time has a beginning and an end. If it did not, it would not be time at all; it would be eternity. " Ubiquity" and its synonym, "omnipresence," signify the presence of God "in all places at all times." This is possible for God because in essence "God is spirit" (John 4:24). Therefore, God, in essence (basic entity), is in every place at all times. He does not "decide" to go where He is not - because He is already there! This is repeatedly expressed in both testaments of the Bible (Psalms 2:4, 3:4; Acts 7:49, 17:28). Let us consider some implications of this li mitlessness of God. The concept of God's omnipresence has tremendous implications. Omni means universal, without restriction: omnipresence is defined as "being present in all places at all times." Since God is omnipresentin all places at all timeswe take this to mean that neither time nor place escapes His presence. In other words, God is not bound, or restricted, to time or place (2 Peter 3:8; Psalms 139:7-10). Perhaps the greatest example of time is what we call history"Time marches on" in history. We often say, "It's just one thing after another." Sequence of events do es mean much to us, because on this earth we are time -bound creatures. Place is also significant for us, because we are not infinite but finite. While we live here, we are bound by both time and place. Each one of us is a dot on the page of geography. We are always "here"never "there." At any precise instant, we are in a specific place. At that second, that place is our "here" never our "there." We may think of having been "there." However, our "here" is where we are at any given time in any particular place. This discussion is an attempt to describe and contrast the omnipresence of God with our finitude. He is not inhibited by time or place; we live here bound by both time and place. God is not limited by time and place because He is eternal ( Isaiah 57:15). He encompasses both time and place because He is eternal and He is omnipresent. However, He transcends both time and place in His eternal nature. This is the significance of His disclosure of Himself as the great I AM. Yahweh is actually a form of the verb "to be"to exist. As an eternal God, He has neither "past" nor "future." Both "past" and "future" are concepts draped with the garb of time. But time and et ernity are not the same thing. Eternity is not a "long time." Eternity is forever. It has no beginning and no end. God is "the Alpha and the Omega" ( Revelation 1:8). That is, He ushered in time and history and gave us a sense of temporal reality. He will eventually usher out time and history and give us the full and true sense of eternity. It must be stressed that He has brought time and history into being and is the very One who transcends both time and history. The essence of God is spirit. We have seen that God is not only ever -present in time (temporally), but He is also ever-present in the universe (spatially). The Bible affirms that He exists eternally; that is, He exists beyond any boundaries whatsoever, including time (history) and space (creation). With our finite concepts of time and space, we often speak of God as "here" or "there." So do the Bible writers, as we have seen. It is necessary for time -bound and space-bound creatures to speak of God in this way. However, we also speak of Him

as eternal. We do so because God, in essence, is the God who is in time and space as well as beyond time and space. From His perspective, He is always "here" now. To our inquiry "Is He 'there'?" His answer is "Yes, I AM 'here.'" This is truth whether we are thinking of space beyond the universe (if any), the universe itself, our own world, or our very lives. This is the God in whom "we live and move and exist" ( Acts 17:28). Is our God too small? No, but our ability to see Him fully falls short, at least for now. The psalmist realized the limitations of man and recognized the limitl essness of God. He expressed these concepts in Psalms 139:7 -12:
Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there, If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there, If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Thy hand will lead me, And Thy right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,' Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.

Lesson 2

One of the dominant features of most industrialized world cultures near the dawn of the third millennium A.D. is a stress on education. There is a growing realization that one must acquire information in order to cope with the complexities that face modern civilization. This accounts for the excitement over the development of the information superhighway. The expanding of continuing education programs testifies to people's desire for intellectual growth far into their advanced years. Human nature seems to be characterized by a desire to know. The activities of a two -yearold child are a convincing demonstration of curiosity in action. The unrelenting questions of five-year-olds have baffled and frustrated many parents. It is common to find professionals who have subjected themselves to the learning process for twenty or thirty years in order to learn more and function effectively. This emphasis on learning grows out of a need to know. It is greatly motivated by our realization that we do not know yet what we need and want to know. The effort continues because we believe that we can learn. All of this is quite familiar to us. In fact, the desires to explore, discover, and achieve seem innate in human nature. This is normal for humans. However, we humans can b ecome too enamored with our accumulation of knowledge. The age of technology, with the highly specialized use of knowledge, has brought many benefits. We salute the ingenuity of informed accomplishments. Is there a "down side" to this blitz of human progress? Yes! A very contagious disease called "pseudo -intellectualism" is spreading. Symptoms include insufferable arrogance, vicious self -assertion, and unrealistic confidence, along with an unmitigated conviction that "man is the measure of all things." This stance of what can be called a sort of "anthropocentric divinity" conceals a potentially fatal flaw in the human psyche. Even with all our insights, most of us have not yet learned enough to acknowledge a God who looms so far above us that our intellectua lism is infantile before Him (1 Corinthians 1:18 -25).

A close corollary to God's omnipresence is His omniscience; God has infinite, universal, complete knowledge . This is emphasized in the Scriptures. When speaking to his "friends" about God, Job said, "He looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens" (Job 28:24). The Wise Man of Proverbs said, "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good" ( Proverbs 15:3). The ramifications of G od's omniscience are many. Numerous questions may be raised. Let us consider a few by way of illustration. God's omniscience raises many questions. One question often raised is: "How does God know?" We have said that omniscience and omnipresence are close corollaries. Have you ever heard someone ask of a storyteller, "How do you know?" Often the resounding answer is, "I was there!" So it is with God, to the infinite degree. He knows because He is everywhere. However, one must not conclude that God knows be cause He, like a reporter, gathers the facts. Remember, we are studying the nature of God, not humanity. It is God's nature to know just as His nature is to be. God does not become; He already is. God does not learn; He already knows. God's omnipresence lo gically helps us to see how God knows. Another question sometimes asked is: "Does God actually know everything, without exception?" The immediate impulse is to say, "I hope so, because if He does not know everything, the one thing He does not know may be fatal to Himself, thus removing Him from being God." Of course, the question requires a more circumspect answer than that. This includes a consideration of how the term "know" is used. God knows Himself internally He is fully aware of Himself ( 1 John 1:5). He also knows everything external to Himself that is, His creation, including humans ( Job 34:21). This omniscience penetrates to our very inward beings. The psalmist cried out that God knows our very thoughts ( Psalms 139:2). Yes, God does know everything, without exception. The questions so far have focused on how God knows and to what extent He knows. Another type of question often arises: "Does God know what would have happened if?" The key to answering this question is to remem ber that it usually concerns the future. It addresses a contingency, something that could alter the course of events, something that has not happened yet. This is a question asked by humans, those who think that events happen unexpectedly, that surprises occur. However, God is never surprised. He knows the outcome of contingencies, whether past, present, or future. In other words, He knows "what would have happened if" as well as "what will happen if." He even knows how it would be if the theoretical becam e actual (Matthew 11:21, 22 ). All of this is the inevitable consequence of His omniscience. God's omnipresence is His simultaneous presence everywhere throughout eternity; His omniscience is His simultaneous knowledge of everything throughout eternity. From the viewpoint of humans, we say that God knew everything, He knows everything, and He will know everything. This is also biblical language, addressed to us. God 's point of view is timeless and universal. For Him, the past and the future are simply now. His existence, His presence, His knowledge are simultaneous in our time and in eternity. All of this means that the "if" questions are based on false premises. The y grow out of our lack of understanding. God's omniscience also posses struggles. Our struggle with the all -knowing facet of God's nature is difficult for several reasons: God and we are in different intellectual dimensions ( Isaiah 55:8, 9).

God is unknown until He reveals Himself, and His revelation is selective and limited (Deuteronomy 29:29). Even the revelation God has given, though sufficient ( 2 Peter 1:3), is often hard to

understand (2 Peter 3:15, 16). We are time-bound here on earth and, therefore, tend to see the immediate as the ultimate (James 4:13-16). Most significantly, we are not merely limited in our understanding; we also have the defect of sin in our lives (Romans 3:23).
These hurdles may lead us to despair. We may feel overwhelmed and dismayed. The first hurdle looming before us may seem too high to overcome: "If God is 'Wholly Other,' how can I even begin to communicate with him?" The second hurdle raises th e question: "If I choose to seek God, where shall I turn if His revelation of Himself is indeed selective and limited?" The third hurdle involves another agony: "How shall I be certain I have found Him in His revelation, if the understanding of revelation itself proves difficult?" The fourth hurdle raises the practical question: "If the immediate the nowis not the ultimate, how can I know how to evaluate and direct my life from day to day?" The last hurdle presents a serious problem: "Since I am sinful, up on what grounds may I develop any hope? Is it possible to survive here, to say nothing of hereafter, before God, who is always present and always knows me inside and out?" These are serious questions. Like most significant questions, they cannot be answered in a staccato fashion. They can be answered, however. We strive to find solutions to questions of life that really matter, such as those mentioned previously. One challenge that is before us as we study God's omniscience is to remember that His omniscience is not equivalent to His will. This distinction eases the tension caused by some of the questions just raised. The fact that God knows all does not mean that He wills all that happens. Human comparisons with the divine are limited, but we resort to thi s practice to help us understand. God, on an infinite and universal basis, knows that people are disabled in a far more devastating way than any physical sickness can make them ( Isaiah 64:6); but "it is not his will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9; New English Bible). Therefore, He educates ( John 6:45), He warns (Luke 12:4-5), and offers all the assistance required to rescue the perishing ( John 3:16). God's omniscience offers an explanation. Let us now turn to the consideration of prophecy in the Scriptures. First, prophecy is so pervasive that the Bible would literally be decimated if it were removed. The Bib le would no longer be rational, coherent, or even readable for the most part. Imagine a Bible without the major and minor books of prophecy, the extensive prophecies scattered through the historical books, the vast number of prophetic teachings and utteran ces of Jesus, and the Book of Revelation. Without these portions of Scripture intact, the Bible would not be the Bible. What can we infer from this? The Bible, in its wide prophetic dimensions, is a mirror of God's omniscience. This is true even though pro phecy is not confined to foretelling. It would not be true if every prophecy had to be held in abeyance until its fulfillment. After all, we are informed that the fulfillment of prophecy is what established the credibility of a prophet ( Deuteronomy 18:22). Of course, many biblical prophecies have not been fulfilled. Some are yet to be fulfilled in history; many point to the end time. How, then, does biblical prop hecy illustrate the omniscience of God? Many prophecies uttered in biblical times were fulfilled almost immediately; others came to pass in a relatively short time and still others were fulfilled after centuries of waiting. Fulfilled Biblical prophecy is an excellent example of what historically -confined humans call the foreknowledge of God. Foreknowledge means "knowing ahead of, or before; to have previous knowledge of." This foreknowledge actually reverses the "normal" order of events.

Our knowledge of a n event comes after the event has come to pass. We may think we know beforehand. We may be very certain that some event will occur. Isn't it embarrassing to be wrong? Sometimes we are, you know! God is not wrong. He knows in eternity what has happened, is happening, and will happen in history (time). What we and the biblical writers call God's foreknowledge is a description of His infinite mind in a finite way ( Acts 2:23; Romans 11:2). It could not be otherwise. If God had wanted us to "see" Him in His fullness and from His perspective, He certainly could have provided the view; but sinful as we are, we would not be the humans we are now. Perhaps the idea or the phrase "sea of eternity" may help us to see God's omniscience. The sea of eternity implies that eternity is unlimited. In the sea of eternity is a large submarine that represents everything temporal, that is, time -bound. Everything in the submarine will end, except God's presence. He simultaneously exists in time and eternity. When time is over, the saved and God will exist eternally in eternity. God, in His omnipresence and omniscience, "sees" it all. But the grand prospect makes us appreciate the following exclamation of Paul: Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and Knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His Judgments and unfathomable His ways! . . . For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the g lory forever. Amen (Romans 11:33-36).

Lesson 3

This means that our God does not "wane." Any discussion of God is hampered for many reasons. Perhaps the most significant one lies in our lack of comprehension. When we are confronted with the fact of God's existence, as was Job, we are often moved to respond as he did: "I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (Job 42:3). Another difficulty in discussing God is that He is simultaneously what we must discuss sequentially. God is at the same time omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent but, we must discuss these features one after the other. While we do this, we should try to retain in our thoughts that God is, knows, and acts continuously, simultaneously. His existence never ends, His knowledge n ever lacks, and His power never wanes. Our hope of understanding God more fully lies not in our cunning ability to ferret Him out but in His willingness to have something of Himself revealed to us. We should be grateful that He had done just that in natur e (His creation), in Christ (His Son), and in the Scriptures (His Word). We will now turn to His Word to understand better the all -powerful nature of God we find there. His power is pictured vividly in the Old Testament. The Old Testament emphasizes the omnipotence of God as seen in His mighty acts. This does not eliminate metaphysical or abstract concepts of God. However, such concepts are indeed rare in the Old Testament. Rather, we find in the Old Testament a God whose power alters history. The kingdom of Egypt was drastically affected by plagues ( Exodus 711, KJV). The Red Sea parted so the Israelites could escape Egypt but destroyed the Egyptian army ( Exodus 14:15). Mount Sinai quaked and smoked, and the people were terrified by God's manifestations. The waters of

the Jordan River were stopped as the Israelites crossed the river with the pr iests carrying the Ark of the Covenant ( Joshua 3:4). The walls of Jericho came tumbling down before the Israelites, confirming Joshua's order to the people: "Shout ! For the Lord has given you the city" (Joshua 6:16). Scores of examples could be added, but these few are enough to illustrate divine power. God's people saw Go d's power as underlying His providence. Their history was the enactment of God's dealing with them ( Psalms 66:1-12). Their faith in God's care for them was a faith in His power to do so. This conviction of God's power, exerted providentially, is a cornerstone in many of the Psalms as well. We read, for example: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, 'My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust!" ( Psalms 91:1, 2) God's people were certain that He would be their great Provider and Refuge if they w ould trust in Him. This conviction rested not only in their belief that God willed to provide and deliver them from harm but also in their faith that He was able to do so! We also see God's power ascribed in His name. Many names ascribed to God by the Israelites testify to their belief in His power. In Psalms 91, we see three examples. First "most high" is a translation of elvon. The first syllable, El, was an early Canaanite name for the Canaanites' chief god. It meant "the strong, powerful one." When pur ged of paganism, the name El was applied to the true and living God of the Hebrews. In Psalms 91 the name is a superlative: Elvon equals "Most High," the One with power to the highest degree. Second, the Israelites remained intimately aware of God's power and providential care, as indicated by the names Israelite parents gave their children. Israelites are Eli, Samuel, and Elijah. The third example in Psalms 91 that shows the Israelites' belief in God's power is the name Shaddai, translated "Almighty." We also see His power reflected in the New Testament. The New Testament also depicts a God Who has all power to do what He wills. This is brought directly to the forefront with statements such as this: "The things impossible with men are possible with God" ( Luke 18:27). Like the Old Testament, the New Testament shows this conviction of God's power coupled with the belief that He exercises power for the good of His peop le: "If God is for us, who is against us?" ( Romans 8:31). This assurance of God's ability to protect, provide for, and deliver His people is related to their belie f in His nearness (Acts 17:27) and His awareness of every detail of their lives ( Matthew 10:29-31). God has revealed to us in the Bible not a distant, ignorant, or weak God. In fact, this entire lesson on God's limitlessness stresses that He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. This means that He is not described b y Deism: He did not exercise His great power in creation only to withdraw and watch the world function in an impersonal way. Neither is He the God of Pantheism: He does not fit the prescription that holds that God is the mind or soul of the universe and th at whatever is, is God. He is definitely not the God of Process Philosophy-Theology: He is not so involved in the processes of the universe that He is altered by them as He works within His creation. God is both transcendent and immanent, in charge of all things, including our personal destinies. We can rely completely upon God. This makes it possible for us, through enlightened faith, to accept His most powerful and life -changing act of all our redemption. The turning point of all history was the crucifix ion of Christ. In this historic moment, a veil was removed and a new relationship with God was made possible for humanity. The power to turn history around and make it possible for us to have an eternally happy relationship with God was demonstrated by both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ. This is the gospel of

Christ, the good news. Of course, its ultimate fruition hinges on God's power to complete His work. So, let us consider some applications. Our faith, which holds that with God all thi ngs are possible, is what shapes our religion and our lives. However, our faith is not a "blind" faith. We do not brush off hard questions concerning God's power. We must face them. Let us consider some of these questions. "What happens when the unlimited power of God faces an immovable object?" God's power does not apply to that which is self -contradictory. In this question, the "immovable object" does not exist. The question is theoretical. It evades reality. A similar question is: "Can God change the p ast?" This hypothetical question addresses that which is gone, so far as time is concerned, and nonexistent in eternity. The answer to this question is what keeps us from praying for the salvation of someone who died a wicked scoundrel. Other questions are sometimes heard: "Can God lie?"; "Can He sin?"; "Can He die?" Each answer is a thunderous, "No!" These actions are contrary to His nature. He cannot lie because He is absolutely true ( Jeremiah 10:10). He cannot sin because He is absolutely pure (1 John 3:2, 3). He cannot die because He is life itself ( Psalms 36:9; 133:3). God cannot do anything contrary to His nature. We have grounds for th anksgiving in knowing that God is not so weak as to act capriciously. He is a faithful God ( Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Corinthians 10:13 ). He remains unmoved from His own nature ( James 1:17, 18). Finally, "Does God ever limit His power?" This question must be answered very carefully. We must remember that it is God's nature to be all -powerful. Therefore, it would be contrary to His nature to limit His power, even the power of His omnipotence. However, in His infinite wisdom He may choose to exercise His unlimited power in ways that are perfectly designed to accomplish His infinite will. This principle lies behind one of the most moving and exalted passages in all Scripture. Perhaps Paul's prayer should be the prayer of all of us as we seek to be enlightened ( Ephesians 1:18-21): I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These a re in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in The heavenly places, far above all rule and authority And power and dominion, and every n ame that is named, Not only in this age, but also in the one to come. Now we want to note that God's omnipotence is illustrated extensively in His context for us. Someone has said, "If God is small enough for us to understand Him, He is not big enough for us to worship." "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void . . . and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the water" (Genesis 1:1, 2). "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets . . . has spoken to us in His son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning With God. All things came into being by Him . . . In Him was life, and the life was the ligh t of men (John 1:1-4). If we are going to make sense out of the big picture we call "reality," we must give thought to why everything is as it is. We explored the significance of God, who is ever -present, all-

knowing, and all -powerful. These are fundamental elements within God's very essence, which is spirit. We spoke briefly about some of the consequences that arise out of the nature of God. We will pick up on this theme now and develop it more fully. This needs to be done; otherwise, we tend to think of God as some sort of benevolent, distant, abstract "Force." Of course, an all-wise God was aware of this problem and took action that would orient us more specifically in regard to Him. This action He took is encompassed in our consideration of God's context for us. When we speak of God's context for us, we are not struggling with how He came to be. His existence is a given. Rather, we are struggling with how and w hy everything else came to be, including us. Why are we the way we are? Why is our world the way it is? How do answers to these questions help us? Why should we be concerned about anything beyond today? What is God's "interest" in all of this? The challen ge before us is daunting. However, if we refuse to be concerned about such matters, we relegate ourselves to lives of ambivalenceuncertain as to which path to follow and where it all "ends." We want to stress, as the verses we quoted show, that our God i s creative. We can hardly think of power, especially unlimited power, without considering its expression in some way. We recognize power primarily in its effects. Power exerted is power expressed. Humans, although limited in power, have been able to harnes s latent power and use it in various ways. The power found in the lightning bolt is utilized to light homes and cities. The power contained in the atom is being channeled into an enormous source of energy. The power of petroleum, as put to use in the inter nal combustion engine, has transformed travel. These examples are impressive. We are all influenced by these uses of power in our world. But these examples of power are actually examples of using power that is already present. People discover, adapt, cont rol, and utilize power that is already latent in our world. This indicates something about the nature and source of our world. It is clothed with incredible power restrained in an orderly way. The atoms that make up our physical world are literally swirling with energy. If they are set in disarray by certain fission or fusion processes, chaos breaks out in the form of almost unimaginable force. What has all of this to do with God? In the study of "God's Limitlessness," we discussed the omnipresence, omnisc ience, and omnipotence of God. Because God is all -powerful, He is creative. Power is expressed in action. Because God is all -knowing, His creation is as we would say, "as He envisioned it." It is according to His will. Because God is ever -present, He is immanent. He expressed Himself in His creation of the world. Thus, in creation we see something of the very nature of God. This is the stance of Scripture: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" ( Genesis 1:1). This is why the psalmist cried out, "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth . . ." ( Psalms 8:1, 9). The earth is a grand exhibit of God's creative handiwork. Why? Creation itself is the cosmic expression of God's creative nature and power. We briefly suggested the extensiveness of His creative work. And here, we emphasize the place and role of the earth and man in God's cosmos. We find that man is made of the earth. We are told that "God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7). Our "form," our physical constituent, is of the earth, so we and the earth have much in common. As physical entities, we are of a common source and are made up of common elements. As physical beings, we come from the earth, are sustained by the earth, and return to the earth ( Genesis 1:29; 2:9, 16; 3:17-19). Therefore, it can be said that God, in His creative genius, has linked His physical human creature with His physical creation,

earth. Therefore, the earth became the context in which we live. This life on earth was enhanced in at least four specific ways. First, God knew that it was not good for man to be alone. He made a helper suitable for him, and intimate fellowship was established between the man and the woman. Second, God knew that it was not good for them to be idle. He gave them work to do. Third, God enri ched their lives by giving them dominion over other life forms. And fourth, and most significant, God allowed them to have fellowship with Him. What a privilege! What a joy! What a concept! How was this possible? Why did it happen? This subject will be ta ken up in more detail in later lessons. However, we have more than enough to challenge us right now. And as we look we find that we are made in His image. The biblical record is careful to state that "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27). God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [ nephesh]" (Genesis 2:7). Nephesh is a Hebrew word with a wide range of nuances. Since God's creation of man is the context here, the meaning is more than likely "being, or complete person." Therefore, we find that we are not merely "earthly." We are "complete be ings," made in God's image. The essence of God is spirit, so our likeness to God is certainly not our physical form. Our likeness to God rests in spirit, not flesh. When God breathed into man the breath of life, he was endowed with something of God's own e ssencethat is, His spirit. Of course, all beasts, birds, living things, have what is called the "breath of life" in Genesis 1:30. The difference could be said to be in the comprehensiveness or quality. The Bible says: "The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord" ( Proverbs 20:27). Human beings are capable of enlightenment, openness, and consciousness. Adam and Eve were rational, thoughtful, and aware of themselves, their surroundings, and God. Although made of earthly elements, they were enhanced, by the gracious gift of the spirit from God, with more than material existence. This made it possible for them to have a meaningful relationship with God. This communion between the Creator and human creatures was truly idyllic. The Garden of Eden was a place well prepared for this ongoing, blissful, uninhibited camaraderie ( Genesis 2:7, 8). This relationship had full potential for unending happiness. We say "potential" for eternal happiness because every child who has regularly attended Bib le school knows that something terrible happened. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden. They had the sentence of death placed upon them. They were cursed with labor and pain. They could no longer immediately experience the glory of God's presence. Why? In the garden were "the tree of life . . . and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:9). God said, ". . . from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die" ( Genesis 2:17). Why did God put that tree in the garden? Why not simply provi de "the tree of life" ( Genesis 2:9) for man and woman, and continue to have a mutually satisfying relationship with them? These questions may seem perplexing. Howe ver, a careful analysis provides us with satisfactory answers. We have looked at the universe in its cosmic expanse. It is significant that it is said of only one creature: "God created man in His own image." The lovely context God provided for humans, the ir likeness to God and God's willingness to communicate with them indicate their creation held special meaning for God. Here were creatures capable of participating in a self -conscious, responsive communication with the Creator! Imagine unhindered, direct fellowship with God!

To make this fellowship practicable and possible God made us with the power to choose. Only one element was essential for this relationship to have ultimate and enduring significance. The relationship must be entered into by man and G od as an act of free choice. It must be a free -will decision. For free will to have full expression there must be the ability and opportunity to accept or reject. God provided Adam and Eve with the ability (intellect) and the opportunity (the tree). God ga ve them the free will to choose to obey Him and to follow His will. It could not have been otherwise if there was to be reciprocity between God and His human creation. When Adam and Eve made the wrong choice, God's creation became marred by sin, separation, curses, pain, thorns, ugliness, and death. Did God's magnificently creative work fail? No. God's work continues. He cursed the serpent (Satan), the one who instigated the fall, and promised restoration to fallen humanity through the coming of a Victor: And the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel ( Genesis 3:14, 15).

Lesson 4


As Creator, God provided the context in which we live. We are of the earth. God arranged for us to have an ideal place in which we could live in harmony with Him, each other, and nature. This "heaven on earth" vanished wh en sin entered into the world. That first human pair was separated from God by sin. The earth began to exhibit some hostile features that made life difficult for them. Satan ran rampant. The gigantic battle between God and Satan raged. God had provided a way for humans to choose the path of full fellowship with Him. The risk was real. It was the only way the relationship could be authentic; otherwise, their ability to choose would have been null and void. The relationship would have been mechanical, robot like, and servile. Adam and Eve made a horrible mistake. They made the wrong choice, freely. The consequences were staggering, and many were immediate. The life -giving spirit that God had given to them was thwarted. They were separated f rom Him the day they sinned. Death means separation. Adam and Eve were cut off from the tree of life; therefore, they were destined to die physically. "This is terrible" we say. How we sympathize with them! However, we must realize that this is not the end of the story. The results of their sin were not merely personal. They had a widening effect. As ripples on a calm lake spread out and reach the shore when a stone is dropped in the water, so the consequences of their sin reach our lives. Sin, condemnatio n, and death have spread to all. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 ). "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Romans 5:1 2). "So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men . . ." ( Romans 5:18). As

accountable beings, we, too, stand "outside the garden." Their fall led to our fall. Their separation from God led to our separation from God. We stand before God and cry out with Isaiah of old, "Woe is me, for I am ruined!" ( Isaiah 6:5). Are we hopeless? Are we doomed to become Satan's exhibit pieces in his infamous museum of horrors? Are we to be eternity's proof of God's failure in His attempt to create beings able to have everlasting fellowship with Him? While these a re sobering questions, we can give an emphatic answer in chorus: "No!" We need not lose hope, because God has not given up on us. We can actually establish God's victory and dismiss any thought of failure. These are encouraging words, but do they have subs tance? Is there any basis for them? What assurance do we have that this is not just wishful thinking? The answer requires a shift in focus. The answer must come from God, not us. In the previous lesson we looked at God's creative work. We saw His genius, presence, and power displayed. We also saw His intention to have humans always in full fellowship with Him. We saw all of this in His creative work. In addition, we saw the context for this fellowship as a sort of "heaven on earth." To conclude that everyt hing ended in failure would be a tragic mistake. We would be overlooking a crucial fact: God is not only creative but also historical. His work in history is as significant for us as His work in creation. Both are indispensable for our eternal life with Hi m. First, if He had not created us, we would not exist. Second, if He were not active in the history of His creation, we would be doomed. How do we know that God is working in history? We know the same way we know of His work in creation. Creation reveals His handiwork; history reveals His involvement. We have both God's creative work and His historical work described in His Word, the Bible. So, let's now note God outside of history. Nothing is more basic to the Bible than its historical view of God. God dwells in eternity as well as time. Let us envision time as a submarine in an eternal sea. We live in the submarine. We are presently confined to the space within the vessel. History is being acted out within the submarine. God, however, is not only in the submarine (time); He is also in the sea (eternity). His actions in the submarine are taken from His perspective in the sea. This has great implications for us. First, since we do not have His perspective, we cannot always understand, or even see, His actions. Second, His presence in history may be seen by the way He steers the vessel, just as His work in creation may be seen in the finished product ( Psalms 19:1). Third, just as we see God's creative work in both general revelation (nature) and specific revelation (the Bible), we also see His historical work. It may be difficult for us to recognize His work in general history, but it is shown specifically in biblica l accounts of His dealings with His chosen people. Therefore, we turn to the Bible to consider God as historically active. And that brings us to God within history. In the Bible we discover something marvelous. We find that history is more than a record o f sequential events. There is a sense of purpose. God's first context for us was creative now it is historical. God has not given up on us, even though the first context was marred by sin. The second context gives us the opportunity to escape from sin. The refore, history is often called salvation history. This does not mean that everything in history saves, but that God has a saving purpose within history. This saving purpose in history is sometimes observed in the way God directs people to the accomplishment of His grand design. For example, God directed Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family, and the species of all living things. This was certainly good news for Noah and his family, but it was even better news for the human race. Evil was purged , and life was spared (Genesis 6:1-9:17, KJV). God saved Noah, but He had even greater plans in store.

God directed Abram to leave his home and his clan and journey to a country he di d not know. Why did God direct this man to do the extraordinary? It was God's plan that Abram, whose name meant "exalted ancestor," become Abraham, "ancestor of a multitude," and that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed. Abraham became th e Hebrew, the father of the Hebrew people ( Genesis 12:1-4; 14:13; Isaiah 41:8), and eventually every person who surrendered to Jesus the Messiah would be the offspring of Abraham ( Galatians 3:26-29). The course of history was in God's hands. Joseph, Abraham's great -grandson, led an eventful and unpredictable life. Who would have thought that the son of a nomadic chieftain in Canaan would become a slave in the house of Pharaoh's army commander? Who could have foreseen that this Hebrew slave would be disgraced and imprisoned but eventually exalted to the most authoritative position in all Egypt , Pharaoh excepted? Finally, could anyone have pre dicted that Joseph would come to the rescue of God's people, the Hebrews? God's working in history is usually impossible to see. However, just because we do not see His providence does not mean it is not working. God's direction of Joseph's life was for a greater purpose than saving Joseph ( Genesis 45:4-15). It was for the preservation and perpetuation of His people! The mighty power of Egypt was brought to naught by an incredible series of events. The Hebrew infant Moses was under sentence of death at his birth, as were all newborn Hebrew male children. He escaped death by the unlikely occurrence of being found by Pharaoh's daughter in the Nile River . This son of Hebrew slaves was reared in the palace of the king. Both the Jewish historian Josephus and the Christian writer Tertullian wrote of Moses. They asserted that Moses was a great general in the Egyptian army and described his military victory over the Ethiop ians. Moses later fled into the exile in Sinai Peninsula and remained isolated from world affairs until the age of eighty. In the desert, Moses received a directive from God to bring His people out of Egypt to freedom. Imagine a shepherd telling an Egyptian pharaoh what he must do! Pharaoh stubbornly refused to allow his host of slaves to leave. However, after much hardship and chaos in the land and grief in every Egyptian household he relented. The Hebrews left Egypt as slaves and became a nation of free people at Mount Sinai . The course of history was altered. Once again, an historical God had displayed His power and His providence (Exodus 320, KJV).

Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work; And His righteousness endures forever. He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate. He has given food to those who fear Him; He w ill remember His covenant forever. He has made known to His people the power of His works, in giving them the heritage of the nations ... The works of His hands are true and justice; All His precepts are sure ... He has sent redemption to His people; He ha s ordained His covenant forever; Holy and awesome is His name (Psalm 111:2-9).
In our continued study of The Universal God Became Specific, we now want to look a t the morality of God. In our study of God so far, we have found Him to be omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, creative, and historical. We have discovered that each of these qualities has a bearing and influence on our lives. In fact, we would not exist if the God we have been studying did not exist: "In Him we live and move and exist . . ." ( Acts 17:28). Our God is near, strong, and understanding. He has provid ed for us and guided us. For all of this, and more, we are indeed thankful. We have not yet considered one attribute of God that is crucial for our well -being. All of the

qualities of God we have examined could have led us to a grotesque, miserable state if God were not a moral Being. It is not too much to say that our well -being in life here, as well as our eternal destiny, hangs upon God's morality. Therefore, let us study carefully this supreme attribute. First, we notice that this truth is affirmed ma ny ways. To be absolutely moral is to be absolutely holy. Absolute holiness is a state of moral and spiritual perfection. Of course, this can only be said of God. The Bible has many affirmations of God's holiness on earth and in heaven. Let us consider the following: Mary burst forth in song as she anticipated the birth of her son: ". . . the Mighty One has done great things for me . . . holy is His name" ( Luke 1:49). As a heavenly scene unfolded before the apostle John, he saw God's throne surrounded by men and angels. The "living creatures" sang unceasingly, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come" ( Revelation 4:8 ). The "living creatures" ascribed glory and honor to Him on the throne. They were joined by the twenty four elders who worshiped the eternal One, singing Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created ( Revelation 4:9-11). We see from their 'heavenly perspective" that God was holy even before the creation of the world. It is His nature to be holy, just as it is His nature to be all -knowing and all -powerful. Again, the "heavenly perspective" came to the forefron t as the prophet Isaiah saw God sitting on a high and lofty throng attended by seraphs who called out, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory" ( Isaiah 6:1-3). These scenes emphasizing God's holiness on earth and in heaven are expressly related to His creation: "The whole earth is full of His glory." He is worthy to receive glory and honor because He created everything. Therefor e, it may be said that His creation is crowned with a halo of holiness. We find a moral quality in creation just as we find energy, beauty, and order. Having discussed God's context for us in creation and in history, we now want to become aware of God's moral context for us. He is the Originator (in creation) and Perpetuator (in history) of our lives. Since He is supremely holy, it is to be expected that humans are moral beings. That expectation is correct. We were created moral. This was the state of man and woman before the fall. They had direct fellowship with God because they, like God, were holy. However, after they sinned, they were afraid and ashamed. Their pristine state turned ugly. Their moral purity was gone. It is an age -old truism that we all s ense: ". . . yet I know, where'er I go, that there hath passed away a glory from the earth." What once was pure is now scarred. God's people were called upon to turn to God and once again share in His holiness: "I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselv es therefore, and be holy; for I am holy" ( Leviticus 11:44). This desire of God for them to come back to Him, and by His help lead a holy life, accounts for a great number of biblical teachings about morality. God's holiness is the basis for our moral obligation. He has mandated the way we are to live. Therefore, there is an "oughtness" about our lives. Our morality must conform to His teachings if we are to be accepted by Him. This "oughtness" of what we should be and do cannot be settled upon the basis of conscience. The appeal to conscience is often a noble appeal. However, we must realize that our consciences have fallen under the presence of sin just as all ot her aspects of our

beings have. Our consciences are, therefore, defective. On one hand, we must never violate our consciences; on the other hand, we must never let them be our ultimate guide. God's commandments must be our guide, informing our minds and co nsciences. This means that our morality will be objectively based on God's Word, not on our subjective inclinations.

Lesson 5


We continue our study of God's moral standards as they apply to us today, and what the basis of those standards are. For example, we cannot claim power as a basis for morality. We know that might does not make right among nations or individuals. We also know that something is not moral simply because it works to accomplish a desired end. If this were true, the taking of millions of lives in genocidal slaughter by the Nazis during World War II would have been moral. The holocaust was directed toward a desir ed end, but it was not moral. If the use of any means to justify a desired end makes that end result moral, the taking of multiplied millions of lives by abortion on demand would be moral. Is it? Neither is something moral simply because "that is the way things are." Doing what comes naturally would be perfect if we were living in a perfect world. Since humans became imperfect, sinful, our natural inclination is not a basis for true morality. If it were, how would one explain the burglar alarms, security g uards, and locked doors in homes across the landor the prisons filled with both civil offenders and criminal felons? We all sense that might does not make right and that utilitarianism is not the basis for morality. The fallen world does not provide the a rena in which true morality "comes naturally." We must look elsewhere. The nature of God is supremely manifested by His holiness. His holiness becomes both the foundation and the guide for our moral lives. His statement in the Old Testament is clear and unmistakable: "Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy" ( Leviticus 19:2). This also rings out in the New Testament: "Like the Only One who called you, be holy your selves also in all your behavior" (1 Peter 1:15). We look to God, whose moral perfection is the basis for our morality. In the Bible we find God, who tells us how to be right and to do right because He is right. How "ought" we to be? God not only tells us specifically how we "ought" to be; He shows us how we may become what we "ought" to be. Jesus Christ, God's Son, said, "I do not seek my own will, but the will o f Him who sent Me" (John 5:30). In His conformity to the will of His Father we see the moral excellence of God in Him. Therefore, in our conformity to Christ we cast aside our immorality and let the purity of His life be seen in us. When we, in faith and repentance, "clothe ourselves with Christ" in baptism, we are buried with Him, cleansed, and raised to walk in newness of life ( Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26, 27 ). And in that way we become, by His grace through our faith, what God wants us to be ( Ephesians 2:8-9). We see God's nature implement ed and revealed in Scripture. Although the new life in Christ may have many facets the one we are concerned about in this lesson is moral life. How shall we live, morally? The answer seems simple: On a day -by-day basis, we avoid immoral thought and conduct and practice moral behavior. What is moral, and what is immoral? Earlier, we looked at some principles; now, we look at specifics. However, in doing so, we

will not exhaust the subject. We will merely point in a "right" direction. Our God is moral. His holiness is the basis for all moral obligation which is often expressed specifically in the Scriptures. Note the following litany of negative instructions: Do not kill, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness, maim, rape, disrespect or injure parents, li e, be dishonest, engage in prostitution or fornication, commit incest, engage in homosexual conduct, or practice perversion. Now note the following litany of positive instructions: Be merciful, peaceable, generous, loving, straightforward, considerate, wis e, pure, patient, gentle, kind, humble, and honorable. These lists are incomplete, but they do point us in the right direction. Our God is moral. He created us in His image. He desires for us to be moral. He is specific about what morality means. In this lesson we have learned: (1) what it means to have a God who is absolutely holy, (2) how He has given His fallen beings an opportunity to shed our immorality and other sins, and 3. that we are challenged to live moral lives. The psalmist has said: I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old. I will meditate on all Thy work, And muse on Thy deeds. Thy way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? ( Psalm 77:11-13). And now as we note how God's morality is implemented, we come to how we may relate to Him properly. Someone has said, "God has three dwelling places: heaven, in His universe, and within His people." We are told that All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work ( 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Again, But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20, 21 ). For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal lif e. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only be gotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds shou ld be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God (John 3:16 -21). In a previous lesson we learned that "God's Limitlessness," emphasized the vastness of God. We considered His omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence. If we examined only these cosmic dimensions of God, it would be difficult to understand why He desires to have a relationship with tiny specks in the universe like us. In another lesson on "God's Context For Us, " we saw Him as Creator and ourselves as creatures set in His created world. We came to realize that God plays a dramatic role in history and that we are part of that historical drama. Then we noted that the supreme attitude of God is holiness. Therefore, His creation has a moral quality. His history, working itself out in the world through His providential direction, has a moral thrust with a definite telos, or

ultimate end. He expects us to participate in the moral march toward that telos. We need His help, encouragement, and love to make this march successfully. Therefore, let us examine God's relationship with us and the divine aid He gives. In the first place, we find that our God is revelatory. In one important sense, God cannot remain concealed. His very existence results in revelation. Since He is creative by nature, the creation itself reveals its Creator. Our own existence as creature is evidence of creation. Some years ago I had the thrilling opportunity to stand in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and admire the marvelous frescoes painted on the ceilings. As I stood in virtual awe, I wondered how any person could have accomplished such a work of art, but I did not wonder if someone had! The presence of those paintings was proof positive that som eone had painted them. Also, I saw in that stunning display clues of the character of the artist. I realized that the work took a long, long time to complete. Great patience was required about four and one -half years' worth. Extraordinary skill was evident . The work showed superb knowledge of perception and proportion. It was obvious that physical stamina was necessary. In short, it was not only a foregone conclusion that the artistry required an artist but also the masterpiece told me certain qualities of the master artist (Dr. James E. Priest). So it is with creation. It is a magnificent general revelation of Someone. In the general revelation of the creation we can discern more than the "mere" fact of the Creator's existence. We can also see something of the "character" of the Creator. For example, this observation was made by David, who already devoutly believed in God: "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1). David saw glory in the handiwork of God. Today we are amazed at the immensity of the universe and the precision by which our solar system functions. In fact, we rely on this precise order when we look at our watches and calendars. We know the order of day and night and the comi ng and going of seasons. Astronomers tell us the location of the planets that will circle our sun and where eclipses will occur on our earth for years in the future. Yes, we know something of the glory, greatness, and orderliness of the Creator by studying His creation. In another important sense, God is veiled. We see in the creation the fact of the Creator and even certain "traits of character" of the Creator. However, the creation itself does not tell us who that Creator is, just as the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel do not tell us who painted them. We learn that Michelangelo painted them, not because we look at them, but as we read and study the history of Italian art during the High Renaissance period. In like manner, we find out who created the univer se, our world, and us as we read and study the Bible, the specific revelation of God. In the Bible we find that He is the grand architect. Neither you nor I could know who the Creator is without the aid of the Scriptures. This is why we have been careful to utilize the Bible in our discussions about God. We found general revelation (nature) helpful in establishing the fact of a Creator and even some of the attributes of that Creator, but we turned to the Scriptures to identify that Creator as the God of the Bible. We also studied His mighty acts as a revelation of Himself in the history of His people. However, the significance of His involvement in history was grounded in His moral nature. This grand truth comes from the Bible not from His isolated acts. Th erefore, we have a veiled God and a revealed God. He is veiled until He is revealed in nature (creation) and in the Bible and then only to the extent He wills it. So, we want to note now how He is revealed in His communication. The Bible shows God

revealing Himself in a personal way. He spoke to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Nathan, Ezekiel, etc. This communication was to make His will known. He wanted His people to be properly guided. More than historical facts were involved. A rationale for His actions among them and His relationship with them were paramount in His revelation. Therefore, His acts and His words combined to portray a God offering protection, care, guidance, and reconciliation. His will was revealed in that context. And His will was revealed in His covenant. The covenant, with all of its ramifications, was the masterpiece of God's concern for His people. That covenant was not discerned by them, through studying nature, analyzing history, or borrowing sections of contemporary law code s from neighboring peoples. It was given by God directly, beginning with the "ten words" the Ten Commandments given to Moses on Mount Sinai . We also find that He was revealed in His acts and words. God continued His self -revealing process to His people through the ages by His acts and words. His acts revealed Him in His power. His words, giving motives for those acts, were revealed to them. All this was written down so that succeeding generations would benefit. The people were cautioned to adhere closely to what was written. God's revelatory acts and words were necessary ingredients in His relationship with His people. If He had not acted, they would not have known His power. If He had not spoken, they would not have known His will. If that salvation history had not been written, they would not have remembered. If they had not remembered, they would have been separated from Him. It is not surpri sing that one of their great leaders said, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my savior, Thou dost save me from violence (2 Sam uel 22:23). We also find God revealed in the prophets and their message. God's greatest and most complete revelation was yet to come. The prophets of God were a major channel by which His will and plans were revealed. While living, under the Sinai covena nt, they spoke of a new covenanta new covenant that was to come. Jeremiah described this covenant its origin, its nature, and its beneficial results for those who received it. He wrote:

Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt . . . I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will w rite it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the Lord, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Among God's prophets, there was no one comparable to Moses except the One great One who came later. This is spoken of in Deuteronomy 34:10 -12. Moses spoke of a prophet to come who would be like him. The people were to h eed this prophet explicitly, because he would speak the words of God ( Deuteronomy 18:15 -19). And, surprisingly, we find that God was revealed in His Son. This p rophet was later to be identified as the suffering Messiah, Jesus ( Acts 3:17-26), the Righteous One who was put to death (Acts 7:52-53). Before He was crucified, He met with His apostles to eat the Passover meal. During this meal He gave a new meaning to the loaf and the cup. Of the loaf He said,

"Take, eat; this is My bod y." Of the cup He said, "Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" ( Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19, 20 ). Through His sacrifice, He became the Mediator of a new and better covenant. He made the first covenant obsolete, while at the same time providing a means of redemption for those who had lived faithfully under the old covenant (Hebrews 8-9, KJV). This Jesus of Nazareth is the supreme revelation of God. He was identified as the One spoken of by Isaiah the prophet as "Immanuel," which means "God with us" ( Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23). Therefore, God's revelatory relationship with His people reached its greatest height in the person of Jesus, His Son. Paul says, In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him (Ephesians 1:7 -9).

Lesson 6


God is inspirational and loving. It should not be surprising that after a lesson on how God has revealed Himself we should turn to consider how God has inspired His messengers. Inspiration is a special means of revelation. In this lesson we will speak of o ur God as "inspirational" in two related but distinct aspects, both having to do with His relationship with us. The first thing we consider is His influence on us. First, God is inspirational because who He is and what He does has an exhilarating, enliven ing, and exalting influence on all who yield to that influence. He is the one true and living God who has done and continues to do a great work. His greatness and power are seen in His creation and in the gift of life that animates us. We are aware of Him as Originator. In Him we see our beginning. We are aware of Him as our Director. He gives direction to life and makes history meaningful. We know Him as Preserver. Our life is sustained by His power. The present is significant because we live for Him. In H im we are certain that the future holds promise for us; He holds the whole world in His hands. Our concepts of God as our Creator and Guide are part of our reality. They are encompassed in our reason for being. When we trust in God, life becomes more than mere existence. The routines of day -to-day activity are engulfed in the larger scope of life. The boredom of mundane tasks and superficial values is replaced by joyful appreciation for the beauty of God's world and the pleasure of fellowship with God's pe ople. Life becomes an adventure. Zest for living becomes the norm. Is this a Pollyanna -type picture, you say? Not at all. We are describing the influence of an inspirational God on those who submit to Him. We can know that the preceding analysis is not wishful thinking. We have access to records that show how inspirational His influence can be in the lives of His people. Abram was given great assurance when he expressed concern about the future and his relationship with God. He was told, "'Look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you

are able to count them . . . So shall your descendants be.' Then he believed in the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness" ( Genesis 15:5-6). Abram was lifted up by the promise of posterity and by the knowledge that his faith in God was not misplaced. Life was not easy for the Israelites during the days of Joshua. They had lost their great leader, Moses. The times wer e uncertain. The invasion of Canaan was impending. Bloody warfare against strong, entrenched peoples lay ahead. How was Joshua able to lead the people during such a stressful time? "The Lord said to Joshua, 'This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you'" (Joshua 3:7). Joshua received strong encouragement from his God. Even in difficult times it is possible to see obstacles as opportunities when we are convinced that God is leading the way. Hannah was the wife of Elkanah, a man from the hill country of Ephraim. They had been married for years. Her husband loved her dearly. However, she was distraught because she had not given him a son. Childlessness was a devastatin g blow for women who lived in ancient Near Eastern countries during the second millennium B.C. Barren married women felt a heavy burden. Hannah certainly did. Therefore, while in Shiloh at the tabernacle of God she prayed earnestly for a child. Her prayer was answered. In her great joy, she gave the name of the child that expressed her gratitude to God: His name was Samuel. Then Hannah prayed and said,

My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Thy salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides Thee, nor is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2:1-2).
We read of another woman, more than a thousand years later, who praised God in rapture because of news from Him. He was going to bless her with the conception of a child from the Holy Spirit. His name was to be Jesus ( Matthew 1:20-21). What a change i n her life! What a sense of purpose, mission, and privilege! Her gratitude and joy were expressed in song: "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior . . . the Mighty one has done great things for me; and holy is His name" ( Luke 1:46-49). One of the greatest examples of how confident and positive one can be when living under God's influence is Paul. His life as an apostle was filled with t urmoil and stress. Paul suffered many hardships, traveled thousands of miles, and spent years in jail because of his loyalty to God. Was he confident? He said: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Was he positive? He sai d: "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1). Was he contented? He said: ". . . I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances" (Philippians 4:11). What about his evaluation of his life? He said:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will awar d to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
These examples from the Bible could be multiplied. The truth illustrated would be the same. Through the ages, countless millions have found out what t hese early followers of God experienced. God is indeed the great Encourager. He lifts us up. He leads us on. He gives meaning and significance to life. He even calls us to eternal life. There is no question whatsoever that our God is inspirational. We also find in the Scriptures we call the Bible, that God expresses His inspirational nature in a second wayin His inspiration of the Holy Scriptures, which is the bedrock foundation of

their reliability. The Bible tells how Abraham, Joshua, Elijah, Mary, Step hen, and many others were able to live triumphant lives because they trusted in God and did His bidding. Of course, we could not know that these are "true stories" if we had no assurance that the Scriptures are true. We do have that assurance, however. The vast field of Christian evidences, such as Bible archaeology and ancient writings contemporary with Bible times, has come a long way in establishing the validity of biblical history. Studying these sources can be beneficial in providing a high view of th e Bible. We are thankful for the progress being made. While these evidences enhance our confidence in the Bible, they do so because they bolster our awareness of its historical accuracy. The Bible must be accurate if it is to be what it claims to be God's Word inspired. We read: "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). As we look at the phrase "All scripture is inspired by God" in Greek being pase graphe theopneustos , ambiguity is caused by the various translations. This arises because the Greek word theopneustos , meaning "God-breathed," has been translated by way of the Latin divinitus inspirata and become "God-inspired." In the process, the "outbreathing of God" has been turned on its head to mean the "inbreathing of God." Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 was stressing that the Scriptures are the result of God's divine power and are profitable for us in the ways stated. In fact, the grand theme of God's creative powe r by way of His "outbreathing" is found elsewhere in the Bible. We saw this demonstrated as we studied God's human creation. We see the exhilarating picture of His creation described in Psalms 33:6: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by th e breath of His mouth all their host." Thus we see the "outbreathing of God" as a way of describing the outpouring of His power to accomplish His purpose. This is the case whether His purpose is the giving of life, the creation of the universe, or the writ ing of His Word. Just as surely as the creation came by the "breath of God," so also the Bible came by His "breath." Both are the product of His power and work. While we are thankful for Christian evidences that point to the historical accuracy of the Bible, our appreciation for and love of God's Word is largely a matter of faith. When we turn to the Word of God, written, we find that this is where our faith is generated not from archaeology or any other science ( Romans 10:15-17). The power of God's Word, written, is a faith-generating, faith -saving power. In the Bible we find a latent power greater than any we can experience elsewhere! We know of the power of ragi ng storms, earthquakes, tidal waves, forest fires. In the Scriptures we find a Power so strong that it can transform and save a human life! This Source is more powerful than the destructive forces mentioned, the devastating power of sin, and even the death we all face from birth. This power can set us free ( John 8:32). The psalmist said: "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). The ap ostle John said of Jesus: "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). In the Bible, written by inspired man, we meet the most inspirational Person we could ever know. He said, "I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly" ( John 10:10). Our God is truly inspirational, in more ways than one. Now, let us consider the highly exalted aspect of God's love. In the lesson "Our God is Moral," we learned that holiness is the supreme, or fundamental, attitude of God and we are called to be holy as He is holy. This attribute, like all of God's attribu tes, is a characteristic of His divine nature. It cannot be conceived in its perfection apart from God. It is the ground of

all of His manifestations to us. It is His nature to act morally because He is holy. Another attribute of God is love. Like holines s, love is seen in its perfection only in God Himself. It is so much a part of God's nature to be loving that we read: "God is love" ( 1 John 4:8). We now see how G od's love is described in Scripture. Humans have trouble talking about God's perfect love. We have difficulty talking about anything perfect. In fact, we are often a bit embarrassed by perfection. For all our talk about the perfect, we are painfully aware of our own imperfections. How often have we heard someone attacking the words, actions, or motives of another with the qualifying expression "I'm no saint, but . . ." When it comes to the "virtues," we all have our limitations. This has always been true. Virtue has been a topic of major concern throughout the course of history. The Greeks of the fourth century B.C. believed the four cardinal virtues to be wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice. During the Middle Ages of the Christian Era, the scholastics saw the four preceding virtues as "natural"; faith, hope, and love were considered "theological" virtues. The Bible is much more inclusive in its overview of virtue. We can relate to the agonizing cry of David: "Create in me a clean heart, O God . . ." ( Psalm 51:10). We may echo the words of Peter as "he fell down at the feet of Jesus, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'" (Luke 5:8). Observe how closely virtue and love are related in the two major lists of the New Testament that stress Christian qualities:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever i s honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things (Philippians 4:8).

. . . applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self -control; and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Morality and love are to keep company, and we are to join that grand and noble company. This is the challenge for us as Christians . Our general feeling of inadequacy comes from two directions: First, we live in a world that has, for the most part, lost the knowledge of what "love" means. Our language betrays us: "I love ice cream"; "I love to tell the story of unseen things above"; "I just love my automobile." Second, because of our lack of understanding "love" in our relationships to objects and people, we are mystified by the love of God. The mystery is indeed great, at best; but when we have lost the meaning of love at the human l evel, how can we hope to understand love at God's "level"? There is a way to come to grips with this tantalizing question. Paul prayed,

. . . that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth a nd length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).
It involves three activities on our part: prayer, study and practice. Any search for God's love that does not send us to our knees in prayer will end in failure. Humble and searching prayer is essential for a successful quest. However, prayer is not enou gh. The study of God's Word is necessary for us to come to a better understanding of God's

love. His Word was written for our instruction ( Romans 15:4), and we must study it to be enlightened in God's way ( 2 Timothy 3:15). In our lessons thus far we have already emphasized God's moral excellence, omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience. We have noted the infinite nature of all these qualities exists in God. Love is also infinite in God. God's people have spoken of His love as eternal, everlasting ( 1 Kings 10:9; Jeremiah 31:3; Romans 8:35-39). The eternal nature of God's love raises a question. Whom did God love before He created humans? Before time, the capsule in which we find ourselves, there was eternity and there was God (Isaiah 57:15). The question before us is relevant, and the answer is crucial. The question is relevant because, of necessity, it implies the Persons of the Godhead. Since the absolute love of God existed before creation, we conclude that this love was a free -flowing self-communication among the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus touched on this as He prayed to the Father; saying, "Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24). Then, independently of the universe, God has full communication with Himself, full devotion to Himself, full impartation of Himself. This is the awesome love of God in the absolute sense. Perfect harmony, infinite peace, sublime self-willing, tranquil immutability, and sacred blessedness exist within the context of the Holy Trinity. This is God's absolute love; the object of His love is within Himself.

Lesson 7


God does not keep His great love to Himself; it is also transitive. That is, the object of His love can lie outside of Himself. Just at the living God offers us life and the perfect God offers us truth, the loving God offers us Himself! When we conte mplate the outpouring of God's love for us, we realize that this is not the kind of love we are accustomed to among our peers. We may be at ease when we think about God's awesome power, penetrating knowledge, and intimate presence because we are assured th at all of these attributes are active under the umbrella of His holiness, purity, morality, and "ethics." The realization that God is loving, can put us at rest because God's loving is, shall we say, the expression of His holiness. We are deeply moved and truly grateful in knowing that we have such a loving God. We may still be confused, however, by the great gap between His love for us and our love for Him. We may feel about His love as Jesus' disciples felt about prayer. After Jesus had finished praying on one occasion, one of His disciples requested, "Lord, teach us to pray" ( Luke 11:1). We must break out of a worldly mindset to embrace the love of God. We must ha ve a meeting of minds with God if we wish to respond to His overture of love. First, we must realize that "love, in the Christian sense, does not mean an emotion. It is a state not of the feelings but of the will." We may find this shocking after being nurtured in a society that equates love with sensualness. A society that believes that love is perhaps 90 percent sex is a long way from being able to understand or appreciate the love of God. Although the word eros is not found in the New Testament, the dangers of eroticism are stressed (Matthew 5:27-29; 1 Corinthians 6:18 -20). Surely love that is approved by God must be expressed on a higher level tha n that. The institution of marriage is God's prescribed way to propagate the human race and provide for the intimacies of shared sexual love. When a marriage is functioning as God planned, it is

held up in such high regard by Him that it is compared to the relationship of Christ and His church (Ephesians 5:22-33). Friendship is another beautiful expression of love. In fact, Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13 ). The noun philos , used dozens of times in the New Testament, usually indicates friendship ( John 11:11; Luke 12:4). The verb phileo , also used frequently in the Scriptures, shows love for friends ( John 11:3), love for Jesus (John 11:15), and parental love ( Matthew 10:37). So God's love is demonstrated in remarkable ways. The highest degree of love is that shown by our God, Who is love ( 1 John 4:8). Agapao is used hundreds of times in the New Testament. This love calls us to the highest plateau of living. It has heaven as its source and its designed is to take us there. It is not an abstrac tion. It is not merely an influence. God's love for us has a vital, living quality. The greatest demonstration of that love in history is God's great love offering - Jesus Christ, His Son. This is agape , the all-giving love: "For God so loved the world, t hat He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16 ). This offering of Jesus shows us not only the love the Father has for us but also the love the son has for the Father. In Gethsemane , Jesus prayed in great distress that the will of His Father be done; and He gave Himself willingly. This is the greatest measure of love on earth - to give ourselves freely to the Father's will through Jesus Christ, our Lord:

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2-3).
As we look further at God as our Father we find that God will be to us eit her a compassionate Father or a consuming fire. Two developments in recent years have caused concern in the field of biblical studies. They frequently go hand in hand and both touch on the subject we are preparing to examine. Therefore, a few words need to be said about these developments as a preliminary to our present topic. The first development falls within the area of biblical translation. Anyone who has attempted to do serious translation knows there is some truth in the old adage: "Every translation is an interpretation." We run into problems when we try to bring an ancient text into a modern language. For example: the English translators of the Elizabethan era felt at ease in translating ta splaqchna as "the bowels." However, approximately four hund red years later the translators are convinced that the translation is better served with the words "the hearts," as in Philemon, verse 7. In each case a metonymy is involved. At the time of the King James Version (1611), the "bowels" were thought to be the seat of the emotions. In modern times, the "heart" seems more appropriate. In this passage, "the bowels of the saints" were thought to be the seat of the emotions. In modern times, the "heart" seems more appropriate. In this passage, "the bowels of the saints" and "the hearts of the saints" are attempts to convey the idea of how Christians have been refreshed. We can understand and appreciate this kind of translation challenge. However, when translators decide that "meaning" must take priority over "words,' the result may easily become mere paraphrase under the guise of translation. This raises legitimate concern. For example: The Greek phrase "en de te mia ton sabbaton" means "on the first [day] of the week" ( Acts 20:7). This is indicated in a number of versions. However, the New English Bible reads "on the Saturday night ..." The reasoning for this change is logical, but it is not at all conclusive. There is no justification for altering the plain words of the text whe n

there are no ambiguities or variants to create textual problems. The second development falls within the area of cultural influence and follows on the heels of the "open translation" practice mentioned previously. We refer to the feminist movement. As with most significant changes, the feminist movement of our time has helped to correct many inequities, giving rise to abuses as well. In the area of biblical studies, feminism has merged with liberation theology, resulting in some amazing and disconcertin g "translations" of the Bible. For example, the New Revised Standard Version is a meticulous version. It is obvious that the translators have a high view of the Bible as the Word of God, yet they consistently translate the Greek word adelphoi , which means "brethren" or "brothers," as "brothers and sisters." Since these translations are in the contexts where the generic term adelphoi includes "sisters," one may wonder why the translators wanted to place in the text the phrase "brothers and sisters" while sta ting in a footnote that the Greek text means "brothers." Should not the translation of the text carry what the text says and let paraphrasing and explanation be in the footnotes? In spite of an explanatory paragraph in the preface of the New Revised Standa rd Version, it seems to me that the translators have yielded to the climate of the times in biblical studies and have cast a shadow on what otherwise is a commendable work. These comments have been made in order to alert us to the fact that "gender" has b ecome a topic to be included in any discussion of God the Father. This has not been a pressing problem in ages past. Now that a furor has been raised by liberal theologians and the feminist movement objecting to the exclusive use of the term Father for God and other "gender" matters, it is time to examine the issue. With these considerations in mind, we will now look at God as "Father" and see how important it is for each of His children to embrace this relationship with Him. So the question arises, "How is God our Father?" The very essence of God is pneuma , meaning "spirit." "Spirit" is neuter in Greek, which means that the word has neither male nor female connotations. Jesus said that we must worship pneumati or "in spirit", without regard to gender (John 4:24). This reminds us of Paul's great affirmation concerning the baptized ones: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is ne ither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). It may seem a bit strange to speak of gender without including the idea of sex that is, male and female. However, this is common in Greek and many other languages. For example: I remember my initial encounter with this linguistic trait years ago when I first started studying German. I was astonished to learn that der Loffel (masculine gender) means "spoon;" die Gabel (feminine gender) means "fork;" and das Messer (neuter gender) means "knife!" Of course, these are grammatical genders; they have nothing to do with maleness or femaleness. How is it, then, that we refer to God as Father? The answer lies in two directions. First, we need to remember that our Father is an eternal Fath er. We go directly to the internal relations within the Godhead. Here we find one answer to our question in the essential nature of God. He is a Triune God, Whose essence is spirit, in whom there are three Persons. The eternal God is the eternal Father, th e eternal Son, and the eternal Spirit. Therefore, God is first spoken of as Father, because as Father, He is always in eternal relationship with His "only begotten Son" ( John 3:16). There has always been a Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. God the Son is not a created being. God the Spirit proceeds from God the Father and is sent by God the Son ( John 15:26). All of this means that there never was an occasion in eternity when God "needed" a female

consort in order to "produce or create" a prodigy. The idol male and female gods of fertility among the Canaanites were deno unced and legislated against in the Old Testament. How, then, is it possible to refer to God as Father? We do so because He is eternally Father by spiritual nature in the Godhead. As in essence He is spirit, in person He is Father.

Lesson 8


This is a continuation of our previous lesson on "The Fatherhood of a loving God." And as we get into this study we find that He is a creative Father. The second direction we take to probe the question of the Fatherhood of God go es outside the internal nature of the Godhead. As we proceed, we must keep in mind that although the distinction of Persons is seen in the Trinity, the unity of their work is apparent in what they have done and are doing. Three examples help to clarify thi s point. Creation is the first example ( Genesis 1:1-2; John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3). It is the work of God in totality the Trinity. Revelation is the second example (Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:2-6). It, too, is the work of God in totality the Trinity. Atonement is the third example. The work of God in totali ty (the Trinity) is also seen here (Hebrews 9:14; 10:3-10). While more examples could be noted, these are enough to illustrate that God is "entirely" involved in all His work. God the Father is not solely involved in creation, revelation, and atonement. The distinctiveness of the roles of the Persons in these works does not nullify their unity in the works but enhances it. For example, in the overall plan of redemption, God the Father sent God the Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. However, God the Father did not die on the cross; nor did He suffer on the cro ss. God the Father sent God the Son to die for us. After the Son's burial and resurrection, God the Father gave Him all authority and power, exalting Him to His right hand ( Matthew 28:18; John 3:16; Acts 2:2333). After looking "wit hin" at the works of the Godhead, what do we conclude about God as Father? He is eternally Father, not because of sexual orientation or masculinity but by divine nature. His work of creation is not exclusively the work of God the Father, but of God in totality. Then, by appropriation (participation) we find Him taking a unique role in the affairs and destiny of humanity. In light of this, it is obvious that the term Father for God is not evidence that the ancients were chauvinistic. As we said earlier, ido latrous and pagan societies usually perceived their gods as males and females. Many, if not most, of their cultic practices were fertility rites. Male gods and their consorts romped about with wild abandon. These rituals were alluring to the Israelites at times, as the Old Testament repeatedly shows. After all, their God was invisible and austere compared to the vivid displays they observed among the people around them. Therefore, it is incorrect to claim that when the Israelites called their God "Father" it somehow reflected the tenor of the times. He is the one true and living God: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" (Deuteronomy 6:4). There was no polytheism, no mother god. These prohibitions were pressed upon them by law. The religio us conventions of other nations called for male gods and female gods but not the revealed religion of Israel .

In fact, there is not even a separate Hebrew word for "goddess" in the entire Hebrew Bible. To claim that a "patriarchal complex" caused God to end up being called Father instead of Mother cuts across the abundance of evidence, both biblical and nonbiblical. That claim also denies the accuracy of the Scriptures as a true revelation of God. When people advocate that the Lord's Prayer is to be disco ntinued on the grounds that it is addressed to "our Father" it is a sad commentary on our time, not on biblical times. As we look further, we find that God is a universal Father. We have previously spoken of God as Father in the relationship of Persons in the eternal Trinity. Now, as we consider God as Father, we look back upon the extensive historical revelation of God to His people the Bible. Here we find that God is revealed as Father in three different ways. All of these are important: All are distinct ive. The first way we note is that God is universal Father by way of His creation. Since we have seen that all three Persons of the Trinity were engaged in creation, we are now reminded that by appropriation the Father's role in creation is stressed. (In like fashion all three Persons are engaged in the overall work of redemption, but only in His appropriation of the Redeemer role do we see God the Son paying the redemption price.) The Father relationship of God to His creation arises from His creative wor k. Humanity is seen as the crowning creation, because in the human race the image and likeness of God are implanted (Genesis 1:26-27). The power displayed in God' s creative work assures Him of Lordship over all of His creation. Many Bible passages reflect this combination of Creator -Father and Power -Lord. They assert a close relationship between the universal Fatherhood of God and His creation:

Just as a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him, for He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust . . . The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all (Psalms 103:13-14).
God is Father in His compassion toward man as He rules over His creation. The universal Fatherhood of God was recognized in Paul's address to p agan philosophers at the meeting of the Areopagus in Athens . He quoted one of their own poets, who said of God, "We also are His offspring" (Acts 17:24-29; esp. verse 28). If we are the offspring of God, He is our Father. This has reference to all people. Thus, by creation, God is universal Father of everyone. It is interesting to read in the Bible of Adam's genealogy.

In the day when God created man, He made h im in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created (Genesis 5:1, 2).
However, in the New Testament, the language used to describe this creation is found in the final statement of Jesus,' shall we say, reverse genealogy, as "the son of Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:37). God's creation of Adam (man) is seen as a "fatherly" role. As the Father of the original man, He is the Father of all mankind. While God is the Father of all mankind, He is also a selective Father. God is selective Father by way of His promise/covenant. A passage from Malachi gives us a transition of thought from God as universal Father by creation to God as selective Father by promise/covenant. God said that His covenant with His people was a covenant "of life and peace." He also said, "You have turned aside from the way . . . you are not keeping My ways." Then Malachi made a plea to the Jews based upon a universal truth. He said: "Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as

to profane the covenant of our fathers?" ( Malachi 2:5-10). Malachi was reasoning with the people upon the basis of two overarching principles: God is Father because He is Creator; He is Father of Israel because of His covenant with them. God as selective Father by way of promise/covenant is a major theme of the Old Testament. We should see an important development taking place. God as universal Fat her by way of creation was sufficient grounds for man to have full fellowship with God so long as sin did not cause a separation from God. In his pure state Adam was, as we have seen, "a son of God." When man sinned, he was separated from God. From then on , throughout all history, God as universal Father by way of creation has not been sufficient grounds for full fellowship with God. Through God's initiative, Abram was called to His service and encouraged by God's promises (Genesis 12:1-3) and the covenant ( Genesis 17:1-2). So were his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, or I srael (Genesis 26:2-5; 35:9-12). Were these actions of God the work of God the Father? Yes, indeed. Even before the Law was given to His people, beginning at Sinai, God acknowledged Israel as His first-born son (Exodus 4:22). The people called by God were aware that they were selected from among all others to be His people upon the basis of their faithfulness to the covenant ( Exodus 19:3-6). As time passed, the people entered Canaan . They had judges for leaders. Eventually, kingship was established. Amid the glitter, pomp, and power of the reigns of David and Solomon, God reminded them that He was their Father. God said to David concerning his son Solomon, ". . . I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me . . ." ( 2 Samuel 7:1214; 1 Chronicles 28:4-7). The psalmist sang praises to God concerning these glorious times of Davidic kingship, the covenant, and David's acknowledgment of God as His Father and recorded what God said about His relationship to David: "He will cry to Me, 'Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my Salvation.' I also shall make him My first -born . . ." (Psalms 89:24-29). Many of the prophets stressed the Father/children relationship of God with His chosen people. This was often done in terms of reprimand when the people were not loyal to God, the Father. Once, when they complained and questioned God's method of delivering them by using the Persian king Cyrus, His sharp reply through Isaiah was: "Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' or to a woman, 'To what are you giving birth?'" ( Isaiah 45:9-11). Incidentally, it is interesting that the apostle Paul used this Scripture for a similar reason in Romans 7:14-24. These passages show that the relationship of God as selective Father with His people included Lordship on His part and servant -hood on their part. This brings into sharp relief God's view of His people when they became idolatrous. It was shameful when they said to wood, "You are my father," and to stone, "You gave me birth" ( Jeremiah 2:26-28). Their rebellion and unfaithfulness to His will was described as dishonoring the Lord of Host s as Father, showing no fear to Him as Master ( Malachi 1:6). Overall, the prophets kept proclaiming that God was not only the God of their forefathers, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but He was also, always, the Father of His chosen people, the one and only living God upon whom they can depend: "For Thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not recognize us. Thou, O Lord, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Thy name" (Isaiah 63:16). They also acknowledged, "But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and all of us are the work of Thy hand" (Isaiah 64:8). In spite of the famine, pestilence, punis hment, rebellion, captivity, idolatry, warfare that

marked much of Israel 's eventful history, God, the selective Father, always acknowledged Himself as their Father ( Jeremiah 31:9). He remained faithful to His promise/covenant and continued to hold out forgiving arms to His beloved children. One of the most poignant passages in the Old Testament describes God's unrequited love for His wayward children:

When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they [God's prophets] called them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it is I who aught Ephraim to walk. I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I let them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them (Hosea 11:1-4).
Now we turn to a consideration of God as our s piritual Father. We have analyzed how God may be seen as eternal Father (in the Godhead), universal Father (in creation), and selective Father (in His covenant/promise). Now we will begin a study of God's work as spiritual Father. Here we consider the pro blem of separation. As universal Father, God was in full fellowship with man until sin marred that relationship. God did not act arbitrarily when He sent Adam and Eve out of the garden and away from the tree of life. This condition of separation was because of God's nature and their sinful state. God is absolutely holy; they became sinful (unholy). Once sin appeared, the separation was inevitable. It was preceded by a warning and followed by a promise ( Genesis 2:17; 3:15). What we read in Genesis 3 is the way the separation was carried out by an all -wise and loving God. This separation was not automatic annihilation; it was the certain consequence of sin. Sin creates a barrier over which we cannot climb (Isaiah 59:1-2). In fact, "the wages of sin is death" ( Romans 6:23). This principle operates through the ages as we follow the way God has dealt with the presence of sin in man. The first era began with the creation of humans in God's image. It continued uninterrupted until they became sinful. We tend to think of the period between creation and the fall as relatively brief, perhaps because it is covered in the first three chapters of Genesis. A ctually, we know no more about the length of their tenure in the garden than we do about the time of the second coming of Christ we just do not know because we are not told. After their expulsion from the garden, God continued to be concerned about their d estiny. However, the fellowship between God and His human creation took on a different character. Before Adam and Eve sinned, it had been direct, "conversational," immediate. After they sinned, individuals began to offer sacrifices to God and to call on Hi s name (Genesis 4:3-4, 26). In other words, sin has separated, but God had not annihilated. God continued to be the universal Father of humanity, but that relations hip was not sufficient for them to have full fellowship with God because of their sinful state. Now we look at God's process of preparation. As God began the selective process by way of His promise/covenant, this did not mean that He ceased to be universa l Father. However, His continued activity shows that He did not consider His universal Fatherhood grounds for the survival of humanity. Therefore, based upon His early promise in Genesis 3:15, He began to deal with the human race through promise and covenant to Noah. Let us notice these following readings from Genesis:

And behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark you and your sons and

your wife, and your sons' wives with you (6:17-18). Then Noah built an a ltar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt o offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, 'I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the inte nt of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done' (8:20-21). Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 'Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. And I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of a flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.' And God said, 'This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth' (9:8-13).
The import of this promise/covenant was that God would never again destroy humankind as He has done with the flood. Therefore, it is obvious that th is benefit from God to His creation had reference to the physical life of humans. It was a grand and gracious commitment by the universal God. It was good news and was unconditional. It is "everlasting." Today we may rest assured that as long as the earth lasts God will not sweep us away in such a wholesale fashion as He did in the deluge catastrophe. Although the physical survival of humanity is not the ultimate survival, it did set the historical stage upon which God would launch His majestic role as sele ctive Father. We see how God's providence unfolded as He chose a particular people through whom He would proceed with His historical saga of retrieving sinful mankind. This process started with Abram, the Hebrew. God promised Abraham His blessing, a great name, and land. God also promised that through him all nations would be blessed or bless themselves this great multiple promise was sealed by covenant. Abraham received all these favors with complete trust in God, and God viewed Abraham's faith as righteo usness. It should be emphasized that it was God's plan that eventually, through Abraham's seed, all nations would be blessed. After the descendants of Abraham had reached millions in number, they were given a law. God's chosen people were called Israelite s by the time they received the Law at Sinai. Jacob, Abraham's grandson, had his name changed to Israel . His descendants who received the Law at Sinai were called the twelve tribes of Israel , or Israelites. The law God gave to the Israelites through Mose s, beginning at Sinai, was specifically for them. This was another step in the work of the selective Father. They were His chosen people; the law of Moses was God's law for them. God did not choose them because they were "special" people among the peoples of the earth. Rather, it was God's selection of them that made them His chosen ones through whom He would fulfill the promise made to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ( Deuteronomy 9:4-5).

Lesson 9


Again, we stress the overlapping feature of His unfolding plan. Although He is now seen as selective Father, He reveals Himself as being concerned for everyone. This concept for all, even while God is carrying out His selective process through one nation, may be illustrated from three major areas. The first major area is that of law. Three examples will suffice. The first example falls in the area of legal ethics. The Israelites were not to oppress or mistreat the resident aliens among them (Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:33). The second example has to do with benevolence. At harvest time they were to leave some grapes on the vines and all that fell to the ground for the poor and the aliens to gather ( Leviticus 19:10). The third example shows that God was indeed concerned for all people and that He required reverence from everyone:

. . . the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall s urely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death . . . There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God (Leviticus 24:16, 22).
The second major area in which we see God's concern for all people is history. Every Bible reader is familiar with th e story of Jonah. Even before we could read, most of us had heard about Jonah and the big fish that swallowed him. He lived in a village near Nazareth during the eighth century B.C. At that time, Jeroboam II was king of Israel . Jonah was sent by God to Nineveh , the capital of the Assyrian Empire, to preach the message of destruction because the people were so wicked. Although he was reluctant to go, he eventually yielded to God's commission and preached in the city. The implied condition of repentance to escape God's wrath was sensed by the Ninevites. They repented and prayed to God; therefore, they were spared. The first area shows how God provided for the welfare of people who were not of God's chosen nation. They could voluntarily place themselves unde r the Law, observe its precepts, and receive its benefits. By doing this they were expressing their belief in the God of the IsraelitesYahweh . The second area shows that God even provided a message of hope to those who were not under the Law as Israelite s or as resident aliens. The Assyrians were spared because they believed God and responded to His proclaimed Word ( Jonah 3:5, 10). It is easy to forget that a large majority of the earth's population that existed throughout the ages we have been studying were in the same category as the Assyrians. They had to answer to God upon the basis of what they knew. In other words, these large numbers of people were part of th e Gentile world spoken of by Paul, as follows:

For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their consc ience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus (Romans 1:14-16; for the larger context read Romans 1:18-2:16, KJV ).
God does, indeed, love His human family as universal Father, while at the same time being

the selective Father of the Hebrews through whom He performed His wondrous work. The third maj or area in which we see God's concern for all people is prophecy. As God led His chosen people, He began slowly to open their eyes to the future through His Word. He had faithfully kept the promises He had made to His people at the time He chose them. These promises, formalized by covenant, were largely temporal and conditional in nature. Most of them were not designed to be eternal or irrevocable. For example, God chose Abraham to be the "father of the Hebrew nation." God's choice was expressed by promise (Genesis 12:1-3). However, conditions were attached; there was a covenant to keep. "God said further to Abraham, 'Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you a nd your descendants after you throughout their generations'" (Genesis 17:9). Circumcision was the sign of the covenant. Abraham trusted God completely. When Abraham had stood the testing of his faith, God said to him, "In your seed all the nations of the e arth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice" (Genesis 22:18). The law of Moses was part of God's promise/covenant relationship with His people, beginning at Sinai. Even though it was in the form of law, it, too, contained promises. These promises to God's chosen people were not designed to be eternal or unconditional. For example, one of the commandments carried this earthly promise: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you" (Exodus 20:12). Many examples could be added. For the sake of vividness and clarity, let us refer to the great covenant presentation scenes found in Deuteronomy 26:16 -30:20 (KJV). Here we see the full relationship of promise/covenant/law on God's part and trust/obedience on the part of His people. We also see the utter devastation of those who fail to keep this relationship. Again, this emphasizes the material nature of most of th e blessings that accrued to the Israelites. All of the preceding ideas do not imply that God's people were totally unaware of life beyond the grave or of blessings God could bestow that would extend into the "afterlife." Still, it is surprising to find ho w rarely these concepts were expressed, especially if one does not turn to the words of the prophets. We find King David praying for his sick child born to Bathsheba. After the child died, David expressed a desire to worship. His attendants were astonished. His explanation to them was, ". . . now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me" ( 2 Samuel 12:23 ). Although this is not an irrefutable example of a belief in life after death, it is assumed to be by many various commentators. However, many interpreters doubt that David expected to join his child in a living state. So, at best, this is an ambiguous example of belief in life after death, especially since no idea of resurrection is expressed. There are other statements outside the prophetic writings that are often viewed as life after death affirmations. However, most of them are debated among exegetical scholars. One such text is Psalm 16:9-11. Another is Psalm 73:24-26. Also, Job 14:7-14 is considered by many to be evidence of Job's belief in life after death. This passage, too, is contested among the interpreters. However, there is clear -cut teaching found in the Old Testament non -prophetic writings asserting afterlif e. For example: "God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol; for He will receive me" (Psalm 49:15). As we turn to the prophetic writings, two statements will be emphasized. The first one is:

Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy. For your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and

the earth will give birth to the departed spirits (Isaiah 26:19).
This verse is in a context that deals with the deliverance of the Jews from Babylonian Captivity and their return to their homeland. For them, this implied a new setting, life, freedom and a fresh relationship with their God in His temple. This wonderful news was presented by analogy of a bodily resurrection. We realize that Isaiah's analogy of resurrection to describe the overall revival of God's people would be meaningless at best and misunderstood or misleading at worst, if his readers either had no concept of resurrection or did not believe in resurrection. Thus we have here, by analogy, a belief in bodily resurrection so strong that hope may be based upon that faith. The second reference is:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have in sight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:2-3).
This passage emphasizes four major teachings: 1. For many, the resurrection will result in everlasting life. 2. For others, it will bring shame and eternal contempt. 3. The wise ones will "stand out" in the heavenly realm. 4. The evangelistic ones will survive forever and ever, along with those whom they have led to righteousness. Conservative biblical scholarship holds that Isaiah was written during the eighth century and early seventh centuries B.C. and Daniel was written in the sixth century B.C. At a relatively late date, measured from the time of Abraham's call, God began to speak pr ophetically about a bodily resurrection of the dead that would be a great blessing to many. As this grand vista opens up, the time came for God to fulfill His role as spiritual Father. So we turn to consider this part of the Fatherhood of God by consideri ng the progress of revelation. We have looked at God as eternal Father (in the Godhead), universal Father (in creation), and selective Father (in promise/covenant). We have seen how His role of universal Father overlapped His role as selective Father, and we have briefly mentioned how His role as spiritual Father overlapped that of selective Father. We now turn to a more detailed study of God as spiritual Father. Although God's plan unfolded in historical epochs with some overlapping, it is, in fact, one great plan presented on the stage of history. A relay race provides a good illustration. While a relay race is actually one race, there is some "overlapping" in each segment as one runner passes the baton to the next team member. Even so, God, in His three Persons, is involved in all phases of His great plan. We have been emphasizing the central role of God the Father in the plan, but this emphasis is not to minimize the work of God in His totality. We are aided immeasurably in our study by what we call God 's progressive revelation. This has already come before us in our tracing of the subject of resurrection. Apparently, in its early development, the idea of life after death did not necessarily involve a bodily resurrection. This seems to be the case from t he ambiguity that surrounds the use of the word Sheol in the Old Testament. However, as we have seen in the prophetic books of Isaiah and Daniel, straightforward statements affirmed the bodily resurrection of the dead. This growing awareness was not the re sult of a superior intellect on the part of either Isaiah or Daniel. As God's prophets, they received God's revelation. God's progressive revelation occurs in another way that is pertinent to our study. Notice the

reference to "a prophet" as Moses spoke t o the people God's words:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him . . . I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
In its context, this passage likely referred to the authoritative voice of God spoken by His servants, the prophets that would ring across the centuries through men like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Amos. However, by God's progressive revelation we find in the New Testament that embedded in this prophecy was an additional meaning that would emerge at the proper time. Peter explained to a crowd composed of "men of Israel " that Moses had also spoken of Jesus, the Messiah, as the authoritative prophet who would be raised up. The import of these two examples of progressive revelation found in the Bible has a direct bearing on our study. First, we see that God had an overall plan for us all along. It was not a piecemeal, crisis-centered, decision -making operation on God's part. Second, we are grateful that we are able to observe the marvelous unfolding of God's plan in its fullness as it has been made apparent to us in His Word. The coming of Jesus the Messiah into the world had ample publicity. Moses made reference to Him as the authoritative One. Messianic passages appear often in the Old Testament. The word Messiah means "anointed." The psalmist spoke of God's anointing the king of Israel with the "oil of joy":

Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Thy kingdom, Thou has loved righteousness, and hated wickedness; Therefore God, Thy God, has anointed Thee With the oil of joy above Thy fellows (Psalm 45:6, 7).
By the phenomenon of progressive revelation we find that this passage is used to indicate God's selection of His Son as the Messiah ( Hebrews 1:8-9). Exactly what did the Father select or "anoint" His Son to do? The answer to that question is one of the most significant statements ever made. In John 3:16 -17, we find the answer stated:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
The answer is also provided by what Paul wrote: "a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all" ( 1 Timothy 1:15). Have you ever thought about the complexity of God's plan of redemption? Have you ever wondered why He did not just wipe man out of existence when he sinned or why He did not go ahead and save man and have it done? Why has His plan been in effect from ages past? It seems almost ridiculous to suggest that the difficulties suggested by these questions arise because of the very nature of God and humankind but it is true. Let us notice some major developments in the relationship between God and humanity. God is loving, holy, just, gracious, and forgiving. His hu man creation was created pure and holy like God. God's creation of man and woman was a love act, and love always seeks responsenot out of obligatory love but out of reciprocal love. For human beings' response

of love for God to be real, they had to have a n option. They had to be able to choose to love and gladly yield to God's will; otherwise, their relationship would not have been a loving or godly one. They made the wrong choice when they decided to satisfy themselves instead of God. This caused a breach between God and humans because of the very nature of God's holiness and their sinfulness. In His loving nature, God reached out to the "separated ones" to bring them back to a mutually loving relationship. However, this had complicating elements. God cou ld not receive them back in their sinful state, because he is absolutely pure. Absolute purity cannot mix with impurity. God could not simply forgive their sins, because He is absolutely just. Sin has its price. Justice demands it. The wisdom of the omnis cient God is seen in His solution to this seemingly insurmountable dilemma. It unfolds in the pages of the Bible and spreads over thousands of years. As we have studied, we have seen Him calling a special people through whom all nations would be blessed. We have marveled as we watched how those people turned to idolatry, tested His love, and violated His laws. We have been amazed at His extensive patience and longsuffering. He kept calling them back through His prophets. Through them He kept reminding the p eople of the coming Messiah, Who would bring blessings to all people. God was preparing the way for the Ultimate Solution. It was not an easy solution, but it was the only solution that would not violate any of the attributes of an absolutely pure, just, loving God. His solution was the only solution that would permit humans to be reconciled to Him in a pure state. We have noted that as selective Father God gave precious promises of many blessings to His chosen people. He spoke prophetically of a Messiah who would eventually come through the seed of Abraham and through whom all nations would be blessed. Therefore, it is obvious that God had planned another role for Himself in His effort to reconcile the human race to Him. We know that God's role as univers al Father in creation was not sufficient for salvation, because He became selective Father of a people to prepare the way for a time when His blessings of salvation would be available to all humankind. Therefore, neither His works as universal Father nor H is works as selective Father were meant by Him to be the Ultimate Solution.

Lesson 10


God's Ultimate Solution became an historical reality when He, as spiritual Father, offered His Son on the cross as a pure, priceless, perfect sacrifice for the sins of all humanity. This sacrifice is difficult to discuss. It has features that we can state but cannot comprehend. It shows a love with dimensions we cannot grasp. It illustrates the power and horror of sin as God sees it, in contrast to the human view that sees sin as a personality defect. It impresses us with the grim realism of God's determination to be faithful to His promises. It shatters our egotistical inclination to work our way out of our sin somehow. It makes us stan d in wonder at the integrity of a Father Who offers His Son as a sacrifice so He may remain pure and just, and still forgive the sins of those who accept and submit themselves to that Son. This close affinity of the spiritual Father with His Son is spelle d out in great detail in Scripture. For example, we read that:

when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a

woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).
The incredible virgin birth of Jesus to Mary was the way God's Son was "born of a woman." Mary was told by the angel,

The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).
Not only was Jesus born during the time the law of Moses was in effect but He also lived His life under that law. However, with His sacrificial death He "canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross" ( Colossians 2:14; also, see Hebrews 10:5-10). Not only was the sacrifice of Christ the fulfillment of the old law, but it was also the means of redemption for those who had lived faithfully un der it.

And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15).
Also, this offering was made "that we might receive the full rights of sons" ( Hebrews 12:711). As we study the earthly life of Jesus, we are impressed with His close relationship with His heavenly Father. Even as a child, Jesus was aware that He must be engaged in His Father's work (Luke 2:29). At the inauguration of Jesus into His personal ministry at His baptism, His Father was very attentive. He announced His love for His Son and His pleasure in Him (Matthew 3:17). At the transfiguration of Jesus, the voice of His Father again stressed His love and pleasure in His Son with the added emphasis: "Listen to Him!" ( Matthew 17:5). Jesus' prayers reveal to us the close bond He had with His Father. Jesus' most extensive recorded prayer shows His glorious presence with the Father before creation and how He had glorified the Father on the earth. He spoke of the eter nal love His Father has for Him and of His desire for that love to be also in His followers ( John 17, KJV). Jesus prayed that His Father's will be done even in His most intensive experiences. As He approached His death on the cross, He prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt" ( Matthew 26:39). While hanging on the cross, He prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." Then, as He died, His final words were: "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit" ( Luke 23:34, 46). We learn that God was indeed the spiritual Father of Jesus Christ. Although Jesus fulfilled the old covenant (law) of Moses and established a new testament by His death, He lived and died under the old covenant. This means that as a Jew of the human kingly lineage of David ( Luke 3:23-31), who "was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel " (Matthew 15:24), He was teaching and preaching to His own people who were under the law of Moses. (Occasionally Jesus responded when Gentiles approached Him [e.g., Matthew 15:21-28].) Much of His teaching about the Father, therefore, was to a people who knew God as selective Father. He often spoke to them about God as "your Father" ( Matthew 5:16, 45, 48 ; 10:29). As we have seen, God was opening up a far more comprehensive era in His dealing with sinful humanity. The time had "fully come" for everyone to have the opportunity to know God as spiritual Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is not surpris ing to find that

Jesus spoke to His disciples about His Father's will for them and the importance of observing that will ( Matthew 7:21). He stressed this obedience to the Father as basic to the family relationship with God as Father and Himself as Brother ( Matthew 12:48-50). The Father will not allow this family circle to be broken by intruders (Matthew 15:13). Jesus often spoke of God as His Father. He stressed this to His followers with a specific possessive pronoun: "My Father!" ( Matthew 18:35; 20:23). He even taught them: "Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). Teachings like these and there were many should have alerted His disciples, and especially His apostles, that there was something unique in the way He referred to God as His Father. Early on, Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew "the secret." She was aware of His divine origin. She certainly knew the factual nature o f His miraculous birth. Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, was very discreet about Mary's pregnancy. Also, when Jesus was of a tender age she heard Him speak of His Father without reference to Joseph. "And His mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:41-52). Perhaps the followers of Jesus did sense a unique relationship between Him and His Father. However, the awareness seems to have been slow in coming. After all, did they not also have God as their Father? Had not God called Israel His Son? ( Jeremiah 31:9). Could they not address God as "Our Father" just as Jesus had taught? (Matthew 6:9ff). Yes , they could, and they did. We have studied the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) concerning the Israelites' view of God as their Father. We also know that the Judaism of Jesus' day reflected an intimate concept of God as Father. For example, included in their daily prayers was the plea: "Forgive us, O Father, for we have sinned against Thee, wipe out and remove our iniquities from before Thine eyes, for great is Thy mercy, Blessed be Thou, O God, Who forgivest abundantly." However, the full impact of Jesus' u nique Father/Son relationship with God was difficult for the Jews to grasp. How were they to know that Jesus, as the Son of God, was any different from others who were called sons of God? Had not great leaders before Jesus been called God's sons? (2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 89:26-27). Yes. We should not be surprised, then, to learn that it took a revelation from God the spiritual Father for them to learn the "full truth." The angelic messenger from God had told Joseph that the virgin Mary would bear a child: "For that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And sh e will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins" ( Matthew 1:20-21). Jesus experienced a miraculous birth into the world and was to receive legitimate recognition as God! As we have said, at that time Mary kept many things in her heart. If we take all of this as seriously as it is presented, we will realize how stupendous it is. The history of the world was veering off its expected course. Times were changing. A new and glorious epoch was in the making. It is difficult for mere mortals to relate to events of such magnitude. It is no small wonder that Jesus' entrance into history needed a divine explanation. E ven that was slow to be recognized. After all, the people who struggled with the identity of Jesus while He was here on His great mission did not have the privilege, as we do, of opening the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to discern these magnificent truths. We, however, can read that the Father persisted in unfolding the true nature of His Son. For example, there is truth in describing Jesus in the words of Nathanael: "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel" (John 1:49). Jesus commended his sinceritybut do his words not smack of the old nationalism imbedded in the Jewish mindset of the times?

Was Nathanael free from such influences? The Jews yearned for a national revival and the glorious reign of a king whom they could look to as God's anointed, chosen son, as their forefathers had enjoyed during the reigns of David and Solomon. The Jewish multitudes yearned for Jesus to be king ( John 6:15). On one occasion Jesus' power over death led the observers to a remarkable conviction. "A great prophet has arisen among us!" they said. "God has visited His people" ( Luke 7:16). This was a great declaration made while they were filled with awe, but did this praise acknowledge Jesus as God? We must remember that the Israelites had seen God's visitation among them occurring in His words or His works, without im plying the incarnation of God Himself. When Jesus forthrightly affirmed His deity, it elicited ridicule, contempt, and persecution from the religious leaders ( John 8:42-59). Nicodemus, a learned man, certainly spoke admiring of Jesus when he said, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher, for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him" ( John 3:2). As one "teacher" to another "Teacher," Nicodemus saw in the "signs" Jesus performed evidence of God's power and blessing. Did Nicodemus see more? Not necessarily. We know, however, that God was buildi ng up to revealing the true nature of His Son. The progressive revelation of God continued. In response to Jesus' query, Peter made the notable confession: "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the living God" ( Matthew 16:16). Was this confession more significant than those already mentioned? We know that it was pivotal. First, it was in direct response to Jesus' inquiry. Second, we are told that Peter was able to make the confession because it came as a revelation from Jesus' heavenly Father ( Matthew 16:17). The truth of Jesus' full identity was latent in this confession. However, we have some reasons for assuming that Peter himself was unaware of the full implications of the confession. Shortly after the confession we find him rebuking Jesus for teaching about His death and being sharply reprimanded! ( Matthew 16:21-23). We also know that it was not out of the question for Peter to make statements, even by inspiration, the significance of which he did not fully understand ( Acts 2:39; 10:28-34). We know that Peter could speak rashly in times of excitement (Matthew 17:4-5; Mark 9:5- 6; Luke 9:33). Even in a time of deep loyalty for his Master, Peter could utter a heartfelt conviction that would not stand up under stress ( Matthew 26:33-35, 69-75). We conclude, therefore, that Peter probably did not realize the full significance of his true confession that Je sus was the Christ, the Son of God. Perhaps we should not be surprised that it was not until after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that human lips declared Him to be Immanuel. How ironic that this earthshaking truth was uttered by the very pe rson who had been skeptical! Thomas had seen the power of Jesus. He had heard His unparalleled teachings. Thomas had enjoyed the privilege of observing His perfect, righteous living. He had seen His deep compassion for those in distress. Perhaps he had eve n heard Jesus Himself say that He was "I AM" ( John 8:58). It is probable that all of this came into focus in the mind of Thomas as he stood before the resurrected Jesus. What he saw was no longer framed in a statement, doctrine, or propositional truth for his consideration. He saw the crucifixion scars on the bod y of Jesus. He knew that he was looking at resurrection and he knew that no one had power over death but God. Therefore, "Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'" (John 20:28). At last God, the spiritual Father, had made it clear. Jesus of Nazareth is His spiritual Son

Deity, in the flesh! We now come to the conclusion of the study of God the Father. You will recall that at the outset of our journey we spoke of how audacious it is to probe the nature of God. We hope that, in spite of formid able challenges along the way, we have made progress in our odyssey together. We confess that no progress could be made in our search for God if He had not revealed Himself in His creation, His Son, and the Scriptures. What God has not revealed about Himself we cannot knowperiod! This makes us acutely aware of two facts. First, we are utterly helpless in coming to know Him without His aid. Second, we may rest confidently in knowing from creation that there is a God. We can learn from the Bible what God is like and what He wants us to be and do. This explains our extensive use of the Bible in our study together. We trust that you have been amazed and awed, as we have, at the multifaceted role of the Great Theme of God as Father. As we have turned the corner s of time in our travels, the vistas have shown God to be eternal Father, creative Father, universal Father, selective Father, and spiritual Father. Our hearts leaped for joy as we peered through those ancient mists in the Garden of Eden and saw man and woman in all their primordial holy perfection - creatures similar to their Father. We stood brokenhearted as we watched them disobey God, receive banishment, and suffer the consequences of being separated from Him. Our spirits were revived as we followed God's patient work to revive fallen humanity. In spite of rampant corruption, God saved a few righteous souls from the flood by way of Noah and the ark. In spite of idolatry and paganism, God persisted in His grand design by calling Abraham as the person thr ough whom He would begin to lead His people in a new direction ( Galatians 3:6-9). In the person of Moses we saw God safeguarding His people with a law that was desi gned to lead them ultimately to the Messiah, Christ ( Galatians 3:23-25). Then we traced the arrival into the world of God's uniquely born Son. When God's view of "the fullness of time had come," we saw His son come to the earth in greater splendor than the sun at high noon. In fact, His uniqueness, grandeur, person, and glory were so compellingly convincing, so overwhelmingly godly, that even the brilliance of the sun was shrouded in darkness when this pure and righteous man offered Himself in sacrifice for the sins of the world ( Mark 15:33). The scene was so vivid, so pierc ing, so demonstrative of "other worldly" elements that even the Roman centurion who stood before Jesus and watched Him die said, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" ( Mark 15:39). We have been on an incredible journey. We have, at last, seen God portray Himself as the spiritual Father of Jesus of Nazareth but is that the end of the story? Did Jesus come into the world only to show that God is His spiritual Father? This is a mind-boggling revelation worthy of our greatest praise and wonder. However, there is more that stretches our minds to the utmost and causes our spirits to soar with gratitude and thanksgiving. We now know that as the spiritual Father of Jesus God offered His Son as a sacrifice for our sins so that we, too, may have God as our spiritual Father. This is the climax of God's work among us. As long as time shall last, no greater work is forthcoming. In centuries to come there will not be an era in whi ch God will be described in another book like the Bible, taking on another role as Father. In the Christian Age, we are experiencing the culmination of His great plan of redemption. It is an astonishing plan. It is the apex of God's reconciling work. God s aw its consummation in Christ even before the creation of the world.

. . . just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that

we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6).
What a grand and glorious work by a gracious, loving Father! He has provided a way for us to become His children. He wants to be our spiritual Father. Just as He created humankind pure in the beginning of the race, He yearns to create us again. He desires t hat we be in His family. He wants us to "come home." How do we respond to His gracious overture? We accept His incomparable love offering Jesus Christ (John 8:24). Believing Him to be God's Son, we turn to him in repentance ( Luke 13:1-5) and are baptized into Him for the forgiveness of our sins ( Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38-39). In this burial we die to sin, and in a rebirth we are raised to a new life (John 3:3-5; Galatians 3:26 -29; Romans 6:1-12). Having confessed our faith in Christ in this way, we know that we will be acknowledged by Him before our spiritual Father in heaven ( Matthew 10:32-33). In Christ we have become the "new creation" of God.

Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them (2 Corinthians 5:17-19).
The transaction is done. God's plan to offer His Son as a sacrifice for our sins has been gloriously accomplished. When we accept God's offer of "reconciling the world to Himself in Christ," He becomes our spiritual Father through His Son Jesus. W hat a grand prospect for our eternal destiny! With the spiritual Father as our Sovereign and Jesus as our Savior, Brother, and Friend, we become a part of God's work that is so awe -inspiring that all the intelligent creatures of the entire cosmos are struc k by the supernal wisdom of God. Note as we close Ephesians 3:10-12:

. . . in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.


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Cambridge , 1965. Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1954. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible . Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1982. Ferguson , Everett . Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1987. Frank, Harry Thomas. Bible Archaeology and Faith . Nashville : Abingdon, 1976. Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. Nashville : Abingdon, 1970. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. San Francisco : Harper and Row, 1984. Grant, Robert M. Gnosticism and Early Christianity. New York : Oxford University Press, 1960. Green, Michael, ed. The Truth of God Incarnate . Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1977. Greenlee, J. Harold. Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1985. Guthrie, Donald. A Shorter Life of Christ. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1970. Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New York : New American Library of World Literature [ Mentor Book], 1959. Hammon, A. Prayer: The New Testament. Trans. Paul J. Oligny. Chicago : Franciscan Herald, 1971. Harrison, Everett F. A Short Life of Christ. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1968. Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation and Authority, vol. 1. Waco , TX.: Word Publishing, 1976. Ijams, E. H. The Reality of God. Nashville : Williams, 1978 Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York/London: W. W. Norton, 1978 Felleman, Hazel, selector and arranger. The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Garden City, NY. Doubleday, 1936. Ladd, G. E. A Theology of the New Testament . Grand Rapids : MI: Eerdmans, 1974. Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York : Macmillan, 1960. Locke, Louis G., William M. Gibson, and George Arms, eds. Introduction to Literature, 4th ed. New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1962. Marshall, I. Howard. I Believe in the Historical Jesus. Grand Rapids , MI : 1977. Miller, H. S. General Biblical Introduction: From God to Us . Houghton , NY : WordBearer, 1956. Morris , Leon . I Believe in Revelation. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1976. Phillips, J. B. Your God Is Too Small. New York : Macmillan, 1961. Plato. The Republic. Book IV. In Great Dialogues of Plato. Trans. W. H. D. Rouse, Eds. Eric Warmington and Philip G. Rouse. New York : The New American Library of World Literature, 1962. Reston, James, Jr. Our Father Who Art in Hell. New York/Toronto: Time/Fitzhenry/Whiteside, 1981. Rhodes, Arnold B. The Mighty Acts of God. Richmond , VA : CLC, 1964. Russell, D. S. Apocalpytic: Ancient and Modern. Philadelphia : Fortress, 1979. Sanders, J. Oswald. The Incomparable Christ. Chicago : Moody, 1952. Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Trans. W. Montgomery. Introduction by James M. Robertson. New York : Oxford University Press, 1968. Shepherd, J. W. The Christ of the Gospels. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1939. Smith, F. LaGard. When Choice Becomes God. Eugene , OR : Harvest House,

1990. Stauffer, E. Jesus and His Story. London : n.p., 1960. Steinberg, Milton . Basic Judaism. New York : Harcourt, Brace and World, 1947. Stewart, James S. The Strong Name. Grand Rapids , MI : Baker, 1972. Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systematic Theology. Valley Forge , PA : Judson, 1907. Thomas, J. D. The Spirit and Spirituality . Abilene , TX : Biblical Research Press, 1966. Walker, Williston, Richard A. Norris, David W. Lotz, and Robert T. Handy. A History of the Christian Church. 4th ed. New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985. Warfield, Benjamin B. Miracles: Yesterday and Today, True and False. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1954. Zahrnt, Heinz. The Question of God. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969. Commentaries: Albright, W. F. And C. S. Mann. The Anchor Bible, vol. 27: Matthew. Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and Davi d Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971. Ash, Anthony L. "Psalms." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 10. Ed. John T. Willis, Austin , TX : Sweet, 1980. Barclay, William. The Gospel of John, vol. 2. Philadelphia : Westminister, 1955. Barrett, C. L. The Gospel according to St. John . London : SPCK, 1965. Boles, H. Leo. A Commentary on the Gospel by Luke. Nashville : Gospel Advocate, 1940, reprint, 1959. Bruce, F. F. Commentary on the Book of the Acts. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1966. Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids : MI: Eerdmans, 1964. Clarke, Adam. "Job." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 3. New York-Nashville: Abingdon, n.d. Clarke, Adam. "Joshua-Esther." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 2. New York-Nashville, Abingdon, n.d. Clarke, Adam. "Psalms." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 3. New York-Nashville: Abingdon, n.d. Dentan, Robert C. "Malachi." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 6. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. Nashville : Abingdon, 1956. Dorris, C. E. W. A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Nashville : Gospel Advocate, 1937. Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Anchor Bible, vol. 25A: The Gospel according to Luke . Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985. Gealy, Fred. D. The First and Second Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus . In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 11. Gen. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick, New York Nashville: Abingdon, 1955. Good, Edwin M. "Job." In Harper's Bible Commentary, ed. James E. Mays, San Francisco : Harper and Row, 1988. Guthrie, Donald. "John." In The New Bible Commentary, rev. eds. D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, and D. J. Wiseman. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1970. Howard, Wilbert E. "John." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 8. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. New York : Abingdon, 1952. Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible , vol. 2. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Kelcy, Raymond C. Second Corinthians. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1967.

Lange, John Peter. "Genesis." In Commentary on the Holy Scripture: Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical. Trans. And Ed. Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John . Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. "Samuel." In Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical. Trans. Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids : MI: Zondervan, n.d. Lewis, Jack P. The Gospel according to Matthew , Part 1, ed. Everett Ferguson. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1976. Mann, C. S. The Anchor Bible, vol. 27: Mark. Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986. McGarvey, J. W. New Commentary on Acts of Apostles. Des Monies, IA: Eugene S. Smith, n.d. McGarvey, J. W. and Philip Y. Pendleton. The Fourfold Gospel. Cincinnati , OH : Standard, n.d. Morris , Leon . The Gospel according to John . In The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Ed. F. F. Bruce. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1971. Nixon, R. E. "Matthew." In The New Bible Commentary. rev. eds. D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1970. Rhodes, Arnold B. "Psalms." In The Layman's Bible Commentary, vol. 9. Ed. Balmer H. Kelly. Atlanta : John Knox Press, 1982. Roberts, J. W. Letters to Timothy. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1961. Roberts, J. W. Titus, Philemon and James. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1962. Taylor, William R., exegete, and J. R. P. Sclater, expositor. "Psalms -Proverbs." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 4. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. New York -Nashville: Abingdon, 1955. Tenny, Merrill C. John: The Gospel of Belief. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1975. Willis, John T. "First and Second Samuel." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 6. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1982. Willis, John T. "Genesis." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 2. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1979. Willis, John T. "Isaiah." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 12. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1980. Journals and Magazines: Cook, William J. "How Old Is the Universe?" U.S. News and World Report 123 (May 1996): 60-61. Ebeling, G. "The Beginning of Christian Theology." Apocalypticism: Journal for Theology and the Church 6 (1969): 58. Elmer-DeWitt, Philip. " Battle for the Soul of the Internet." Time 144 (July 1944): 5055. Hoberman, Barry, "Translating the Bible." Atlantic Monthly (February 1985): 43-58.
Sheler, Jeffery L. "Spiritual American." U.S. News and World Report 121 (April 1994): 48 -59. presents Part II of God's Fullness


(Christology) God the Son probes the existence, nature, and activity of the Son before His incarnation as they reflect the wisdom and power of the Father. After His incarnation, Jesus is studied as the "Son of Man," King, and Messiah. While H is Deity is reflected in His self-awareness, that Deity is confessed in His "I AM" statements. The humanity of His incarnation is evidenced in nonbiblical records, and apparent in His baptism, prayers, temptations, and death. Redemption was His mission; resurrection was His victory; exaltation established His authority. This section of God's Fullness takes us to the heart of the Father through His Son. As in parts I and III, the language is designed to promote communication between reader and subject, teacher and student.

INDEX God the Son before the Incarnation God The Son Before The Incarnation (2) His Deity After The Incarnation His Deity After The Incarnation (2) His Humanity After The Incarnation His Humanity Was Evidenced By His Temptations His Miracles And Their Effects The Triumphant God/Man The Spiritual Aspect Of Jesus The Victory Bibliography

Lesson 1


As we study together, we will see that Jesus of Nazareth is both the Son of God and God the Son. This may seem like a foregone conclusion, but it is astonishing that out of the billions of people on earth, many have not accepted the Christian belief that J esus is deity. Notice the following statistics:

These statistics bring the deity of Jesus into sharp focus. They also raise some pertinent questions: Why do billions of people not know the story of Jesus? Why have they not heard about Him? Of course, the major answer to each of these questions lies in t he lack of mass global evangelism and missionary work. The next two questions provide the challenge with which we will struggle in this study: 1. Why do many who have heard of Jesus not believe in Him? 2. Why do many who do accept Him as Gods Son not accept Him as God the Son? The answers to these questions will vary from person to person. Some will be superficial, but others will go beyond that, revealing an agony brought about by confusion. This conf usion concerning Jesus may result from a faulty or untimely teaching process. The tragedies of cults like that of Jim Jones years ago naturally raise skepticism regarding the truth about Christ among many people who might otherwise be receptive to a clear, reasoned presentation of who Jesus is and what His teachings involve. Another reason many do not believe in or accept Jesus may be the difficulty we have in explaining His uniqueness. We may have faith in Jesus. We may be sincere in our attempts to convince someone else about Him. However, our concept of Jesus may be hazy or shallow. We may have trouble with difficult questions about Him. Our faith in Jesus, especially if it is secondhand, may simply not be deep enough to answer the probing questions of skepticism. This is not to say that we would deny our faith. It simply means that we may not have the resources or the maturity of faith that would enable us to fill the void in the life of one who is searching for answers about Jesus. Consider this: You have conjured up the courage to ask a friend to attend worship service with you next Sunday. Suppose your friend says, Lately I have thought a lot about turning to God and worshiping Him. However, you Christians have three gods. If I am anything religiously, I am a monotheist. I believe in one god. I cant accept your belief in three gods. What is your reaction? How do you reply? How do you verify what you say? You are not alone if this question presents a problem for you. In fact, the church during the second and third centuries struggled to explain to Jews and pagan idol worshipers how

Christianity stood for a monotheism that could speak of God the Father and God the Son. Since our concept of God ultimately determines our religion, we sincerely invite you to join in our present examination of God the Son. The early church realized that they had to convince the people of their day that Christianity had a monotheistic view of God that included God the Son and God the Father. If they did not, Christianity would lose its truth, power, uniqueness, and relevance. One has a tendency to think of Jesus in terms of His ministry on earth. The announcement by the angel Gabriel reminds us that this male child was not one of ordinary birth. His birth was accompanied by the good news that Gods Messiah had arrived. It was an occasion for praise and glory to God. All the surrounding details of Jesus birth come to mind. It was a time when wise men paid homage to One Who was wiser than they. The one glimpse of Jesus boyhood reveals to us His innate wisdom as He amazed the experts of Judaism with His questions and answers in the temple. The one concise statement of His human growth from childhood to manhood emphasizes His wisdom and favor with God and man. Have we ever pondered the implications of this stress on the wisdom of Jesus? Have we caught His profound insight when He stated at the beginning of His personal ministry that His baptism was to fulfill all righteous? Have we noticed that His method and ability to withstand all of the temptations at Satans disposal was through marvelous knowledge and instant use of Gods Word? Have we been taken aback by the lofty wisdom wisdom rising above human capacity that is expressed in Jesus Sermon on the Mount? Of course we have! Jesus wisdom shines in His every word, action, and attitude. This demonstration of wisdom by Jesus was inevitable. Can water cease being wet? Can fire cease being hot? Can God cease being wise? Of course, the answer to these questions is No! It is the nature of water to be wet and fire to be hot. It is also Gods nature to be wise. In all eternity and time, God has never committed a foolish act or said a foolish word. As we continue our study of the Trinity, we will see how Jesus God the Sonmanifested the wisdom and power of the Father, even before His birth into our world.

The Son as the Wisdom of the Father

To appreciate fully the wisdom of the Son, we must first see Him as the wisdom of the Father. The wisdom of the Father is first made m anifest to us in creation. Out of infinity came God the Son, the expression of God that brought into being the universe, our world, and time. It is necessary for us to pause and remind ourselves that it is beyond the limits of the human mind to probe into what lies behind creation and time. The highly developed human intelligence has an intense curiosity and considerable capability to work with available data. This effort often brings wonderful benefits to humanity. However, if data are lacking, speculation may lead to wrong conclusions and dire consequences. Speculation is ill advised concerning what may lie beyond time and creation. Does this mean we are insulated in a capsule of ignorance regarding what may lie beyond

creation and time? Yes, if we insis t upon relying solely on our own limited resources and capabilities. No, if we will humble ourselves and accept what God has revealed to us in His creation, Son, and Word. In nature, Jesus, and the Bible, we find evidences of Gods power, person, and will. These evidences came from beyond and give us insight into the significance of reality and the eternal nature of what lies outside history and time. We look back to the primordial state. We do not use a huge telescope. Allan Sandage has probed deep spac e as far back as 6 billion light years. However, our reference points to infinity. We reach for what was before the beginning of our universe and time.

The Son As Taught in the New Testament

We do our search for what was before the beginning by exami ning what God revealed last in order to understand better what He revealed first. We will do this by examining the New Testament perspective of Jesus as the wisdom of God before the creation. The New Testament points out that the wisdom of God existed before time began and was inseparable from the crucified Lord of glory: Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak Gods wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him. For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God (1 Corinthia ns 2:6-10). This amazing truth was not known until the Apostolic Age because it was Gods revealed mystery that had been hidden in the past. This revealed secret opens up windows of wonder for us. The preceding passage points out a bridge extending fr om before time to the cross of Christ. When this bridge had its grand opening, the wisdom of God was made apparent in Jesus. Further identification of Jesus as the wisdom of God is pointed out in Pauls letter to the Christians in Colossae . They were b eing troubled by some teachers advocating a wisdom that minimized the Person and the work of Christ, especially in creation and redemption. Paul responded by insisting that the mystery of God, now revealed, is [Christ,] in whom are hidden all the treasu res of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). When Paul spoke this way about Christ, he was not saying that Christ is merely the repository for Gods wisdom. Paul was proclaiming that as God, Jesus is Gods wisdom now fully revealed. Paul had already pointed out that Christ is the very image of God. I n addition, Paul had stressed the preexistence to creation of Gods Son. In one of the most exalted passages about Christ in all the Bible, Colossians 1:16 -17a, Paul states the following: For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on eart h, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created by Him

and for Him. And He is before all things. The Son described in Colossians as the creative wisdom of God is not merely the Son of God; He is God the Son. As such, in [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). The Greek word pleroma (fullness) is found earlier in the Colossian letter: For it was the Fathers good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in H im [Christ] (Colossians 1:19). In other words, the essence of God dwells in Christ. The essence of God is spirit (John 4:24). Colossians 2:9 is the one and only place in the New Testament where the Greek theotes (Godhead, KJV; Deity, NIV) appears. Th e full nature (essence) of deity in the totality of God is seen in Christ. This, of course, is an eternal relationship, which, in the context of Colossians, includes the historical Jesus.

The Son As Reflected in Redemption

To consider Jesus as the wisdom of God is not our usual beginning point. Most of us were first introduced to Jesus as the Son of God, Who, in Person, manifested the love, mercy, and grace of God the Father. The extent of the Fathers love for us was demonstrated in His offering His Son on the cross for our redemption. Then, as we surrendered to Jesus, He became our Savior as we were raised with Him in baptism through faith in the power of God, Who raised Jesus from the dead (Colossians 1:21 -23; 2:12). This was the good news, the gospel of Christ. As we look further concerning Christ, we find that He shows us more than Gods love, mercy, and grace. He is also Gods wisdom made clear to us. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he reminded them that the wisdom of God is not apparent to many because they are not looking for it in the right place. The Jews were infatuated with signs. They wanted to see miracles (Matthew 12:38 -39). The Greeks were indeed seeking wisdom, but largely through the medium of philosophy, which Paul described as the wisdom of the world. Against this background Paul then stated: But we preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23 -24). Thus, through Gods plan of salvation for us, Christ became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30b). Therefore, in His redemptive work, the Son reflects the wisdom of the Father.

The Son As Displayed in Creation

God has never performed a foolish act or said a foolish word, because He is omniscient, all knowing. It is His nature to be all -wise, just as it is His nature to be all -powerful. Therefore, it should not surprise us to see Gods wisdom in Jesus, His Son. He is the appearance (revelation) of Gods wisdom that was with Him in et ernity, in creation, and is now revealed in history. Now that we have observed the wisdom of God up close in Jesus, let us look far back to that momentous event of creation. Wisdom was there! Does that surprise us? Certainly not. In view of Gods natu re (being all -wise) and in light of the later revelation of Gods wisdom in Jesus (the New Testament), we would indeed be astounded if we did not find wisdom present even before creation.

The Son As Described in Proverbs 8:22 -31

Proverbs 8:22-31 makes the following points: 1. Out of the vast expanse of space the wisdom of God began to stir and take center stage (v. 22). 2. Wisdom has eternally been at the forefront of Gods deeds, including the creation (v. 23).

3. Gods wisdom was eternally actualized even before creation (vv. 24 -26). 4. As an active participant with the Lord, wisdom characterized the various phases of creation (vv. 27-30a). 5. The harmony of Gods wisdom and work in the creation of the world and mankind br ought forth delight and joy (vv. 30b -31). This passage gives a breath -taking picture of the Lord, wisdom, eternity, time, and creation. In this passage, do we see Jesus as an active participant in creation? Does the wisdom of Proverbs 8:22-31 equal that o f Jesus of Nazareth? Consider the following: The Son of God was to be called Jesus at His birth (Matthew 1:21; 2:23). Therefore, one would not expect to find the name Jesus in Proverbs 8. Biblical writers are very cautious with their words when writing ab out Gods creation. For example: How long does one read before one finds any biblical writer using the name Jesus to describe the role of Gods Son in creation? The activity of Gods Son in creation was a mighty work He performed ages before He was called Jesus. Another feature of Proverbs 8:22 -31 is that wisdom was spoken of as feminine. Why was Gods wisdom described as feminine? One reason rests in the very nature of language. The word wisdom is feminine gender in Hebrew ( hokmah ) and in Greek ( sophia ). Therefore, a discussion of wisdom in biblical contexts often used feminine gender (Proverbs 9:1 -6). In Proverbs 1:20-33, wisdom invited the foolish ones ( pthayim, v. 22) to partake and warned in graphic terms against rejecting her. Proverbs 3:13 -18 spoke of the blessings of wisdom, for she is more profitable than silver, and yields better returns than gold (v. 14). It is also noteworthy that folly, wisdoms opposite, was also spoken of in the Bible as feminine in gender (Proverbs 9:13ff). Personification is also a feature in Proverbs 8:22 -31. In this passage, wisdom is not only described as feminine; she is personified as a being from eternity. Therefore, she predates the creation and participates in it. A personification is the representation of a bein g, thing, or abstraction with anthropomorphic (human -like) traits. This is very common in the poetic literature of the Bible, such as Proverbs and Psalms. Personification is still a favorite literary device. Joyce Kilmers well -known poem, Trees, is a good example. He extols a tree as an inspiring example of Gods creative genius and power. He describes a tree as a female with sight to look up to God, arms to lift in prayer, hair for birds nests, a bosom upon which snow falls, and a hungry mouth. This is a straightforward personification. Trees do not get hungry. They do not have mouths.

A tree cannot look, lift, or pray. However, in this poem a beautiful truth is expressed by literary feminine personification. It does not disturb the reader that prac tically everything said in this poem about a tree, including its gender, is impossible. We know that Kilmer was using poetic license to convey a deep truth, which he emphasized at the close. From a literary point of view, there is a parallel between what was expressed in Proverbs 8:22-31 and Kilmers poem. Both poets described Gods creative work through a series of feminine personifications with oblique, symbolic language. In both poems, the reader sees a truth that lies beyond their actual statements. In Trees we are made aware of the beautiful harmony between God and His magnificent creation. In Proverbs 8:22 -31 we note the joy, delight, uniqueness, and wisdom of God in His handiwork. The writer of the Proverbs passage did not attempt to make Gods wis dom feminine any more than Kilmer was trying to make a tree feminine!

The Son As Affirmed in Progressive Revelation

New Testament teachings associate Jesus with the wisdom of God. The truths found there show that the wisdom of God is eternal and was active in the creation. Obviously, from the perspective of the New Testament writers, the eternal wisdom of God we see so actively engaged in Gods creation is God the Son. How privileged we are to see through the eyes of men who were given such deep insight by the Holy Spirit! Through them we see truths that even prophets and angels could not fully discern (1 Peter 1:10 -12; 2 Peter 1:19-21). Does this mean that God practiced progressive revelation? Yes, it does! If the language of the Bible means anything at all, we see God more fully in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. The progressive revelation of God and His will for us is found in the Scriptures and is restricted to the Scriptures. This is affirmed in both Testaments (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5 -6; Revelation 22:18 -19). Examples of Gods concern about His revelation and His Word are frequent. Therefore, when we read Proverbs 8:22 -31 we realize what the writer expressed. He described in poetic language an attribute of God, wisdom that characterized His creative work. We do not assume that the poets God -inspired mind led him to think of God the son or the second person of the Trinity! On the other hand, many Old Testament writers, including poets and prophets, expressed truths that later would be expanded to reveal even more profound truths. Through progressive revelation, the writings of the God -inspired writers of the New Testament enable us to see more than what the Proverbs writer saw in the passage under study. We see what he saw. We also see wisdom as the very nature (essence) of God expressed as a Personnot merely as a poetic personificati on of an abstract concept (wisdom). In other words, we see God the Son reflecting Gods wisdom in creation. One author has said: . . . the very origins and the authority of Wisdom suggest more than a personified order of creation. Wisdom is somehow identi fied with the Lord. The call of Lady Wisdom is the voice of the Lord; she is the revelation of God, not merely the self -revelation of creation. Christ, as the wisdom of God, reflects that wisdom in the creation and the redemption of the world. These associations are in the Bible so that we can profit from them. Christians, like

Paul, can infer that Christ is Gods wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:24).

Lesson 2


The Son as the Power of the Father We have spent some time considering Christ as the wisdom of God. The preexistent Christ reflected the wisdom of God in creation. On one hand, although Old Testament men of God spoke in lofty language about the role of God's wisdom in creation, they never spoke in terms of a second Person in the Godhead. The New Testament, on the other hand, contains statements either implying or affirming that Christ is the wisdom of God Who was before all time and Who participated in the creation.
We now turn to another area of study about Go d the Son. This probe falls into the category of Christ as the Word of God before the incarnation or before His birth in Bethlehem . As in our previous lesson, we will go to relevant passages in the New Testament. Equipped with information concerning the W ord of God in creation, we will then go to the Old Testament to seek out its teaching on the subject.

The New Testament Teaching In the New Testament, we find that the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew and Luke are quick to emphasize that the birth of Jesus heralded the personal arrival of God in the world. Matthew identifies the baby Jesus as Immanuel that is, God with us. Luke speaks of Him as the Son of God. Both books speak of the virgin Mary's conception of the Christ child as being from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1; Luke 1). In the Beginning The Gospel of John takes a different approach. The prologue (1:1-18) does not deal with the details of Jesus' birth. There is no genealogy of Jesus as Matthew and Luke give it (Matthew 1; Luke 3). Instead, ther e is an opening statement that almost boggles the mind! John 1:1 begins with a phrase that echoes across the expanse of time: In the beginning. We immediately think of Genesis 1:1.
Let us say the phrase "in the beginning" over and over. If we do, a ques tion immediately arises: Beginning of what? If these two phrases in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 were all we had about God in the Bible, we could easily conclude that the writers were speaking about the beginning of God. However, the eternal existence of God is one of the major themes of the Scriptures. Therefore, we apply one of the classic rules of biblical interpretation at this point: Never interpret an obscure passage so as to contradict plain biblical teaching in another passage on the same subject. Thu s we conclude that beginning in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 refers to God's creative work, not His existence. Hence the article the has been inserted in English translations. Genesis 1:1b says: . . . God created the heavens and the earth. This seems to be a comprehensive cover statement of the creation. It is followed by the unfolding activity of the creation. However, we should note the relationship of God in the creative process and the

all-inclusiveness of that relationship throughout the creation.

The Term Logos Why did John use the term logos (Word), and even more important, why did he explain its meaning so precisely? The word logos was already rich in meaning before it was used in the New Testament. Concepts imbedded in logos were especially att ractive to Greek philosophers, notably the Stoics. Heraclitus of Ephesus, an early developer of Stoic thought, saw logos as the law of nature in the discipline of physics. Centuries later (around 300 B.C.) Zeno of Cyprus became the acknowledged founder of Stoicism. In his school in Athens he articulated logos as reason in the universe the reason that gave all things their order, shape, and harmony. His belief in deity related this logos with creative fire, sometimes called pneuma (spirit). Thus the Stoics s aw logos in nature as order and logic; in expression as reason and word; in theology as a rational spirit providing all things and relating itself to all things.
The world of the first century A.D. witnessed the beginning of Christianity. The good news of hope and salvation in Christ was preached around the Mediterranean basin, beginning from Jerusalem . By the end of the century, God -inspired men had spelled out the faith. These writings, in Koine (common) Greek, utilized that language to describe God's n ature, His activity, and His will for humanity. In the first half of the first century A.D., the writings of Philo projected logos concepts into the theological thought of both Jews and Christians. Philo was a Jewish Hellenistic philosopher and theologian . Having been reared and educated in Alexandria , Egypt , he was thoroughly steeped in the Old Testament Scriptures and Greek philosophy, as evidenced by his writings. His reinterpretation of the Old Testament by using allegorical and Greek philosophical p rinciples had an impact in his day that lingered into modern times. He spoke of logos as the divine directive that moves the course of history along its assigned path until its goals are reached. Thus the effects of logos have a bearing on the cosmos and t he ultimate destiny of humanity. (See the multiple -volume works of Philo on the subject in the Loeb Classical Library). The logos (Word) was present at the beginning of creation. Since the Word was there when creation began, the Word was there before creation began. Can a carpenter build a house without first being there? The preexistence of the Word is clear. He was present. Also, the Word was with God. This speaks of relationship. John 1:1-3 is a marvelous statement of what Christ did in creation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by H im, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being The Word was God; the Word was with God. Through Him all things were made. Here we have identification, relationship, and activity. In this compressed statement we have a paradox: complexity surrounds the simplicity of God. With whom is the preexistent Word related in the creation process? Hebrews 1:2 says: . . . [God] has spoken to us in His Son . . . through whom also He made the world. (See also Hebrews 2:9). Here, then, is a Fa ther/Son relationship that existed before the incarnation.

Later we see this Son referred to as Jesus in His incarnate, redemptive work. However, we should keep in mind that deity's existence as Father and Son is eternal and thus is not dependent on the in carnation. Does the statement in Hebrews 1:2 [God] has spoken to us in His Son mean that the Word, in His preexistent state, was indeed deity? Does Sonship with God mean deity? The answer depends on the context. For example, in Romans 9:26 Paul used Hos ea 1:10 to teach that God's people are sons of the living God, but no one would conclude from these statements that God's sons are divine beings. However, if there is any doubt that God's Son, as the preincarnate Word, was deity, we need only to read Hebrews 1:8a: But of the Son He [God] says, Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever.' This verse, like many others in Hebrews, is a quotation from the Old Testament. This one is from Psalm 45 (v. 6). This is a royal wedding psalm that was used to celebra te the marriage of a Hebrew king and his bride. Three facts regarding this psalm are central for our thinking: (1) The king is obviously of the Davidic dynasty. (2) The psalm finds only partial fulfillment in David or any of his descendants. (3) Messianic application by the New Testament writer of Hebrews brings home its full impact in a startling way! In Hebrews, Psalm 45:6-7 is applied as the supreme fulfillment of the royal line of David the Messiah. It is framed as a personal address by God the Father ( v. 5) to the Son (v. 8), calling Him God (deity)! Therefore, we see that the relationship between God and the Word spoken of in John 1:1 -3 is in fact a Father/Son relationship. It necessitates a conclusion that both the Father and the preincarnate Son are deity. Therefore, the eternal Father/Son relationship of God is implied in every biblical passage about the creation of the world. Truly, as John wrote, The Word [logos] was God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. The conviction that the power of God created all things runs throughout the New Testament. However, the full realization that this power was expressed through the logos the preexistent Son, God the Son, who later became incar natecomes to the forefront only in the writing of John, which completed the New Testament. An overview of this development follows: In the Gospel of Mark we find Jesus speaking of the creation as God's work (Mark 10:6; 13:19 ). During the early days of t he church, the disciples acknowledged God as the Creator of all things (Acts 4:24 ). When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, he spoke of God the Father, . . . from whom are all things, and Jesus Christ, by whom are all things . . . (1 Corinthians 8:6). Here Paul was relating the Father and the Son in creative activity. Paul did not relate the Son to the logos (the Word). In Romans, Paul expressed in a moving doxology that from God and to God are all things (Romans 11:36a). Later the Ephesian letter speaks of God, who created all things (Ephesians 3:9b). In Colossians the Son is spoken of as the image of God. He is God's first-born; He predates the creation, has sovereignty over it, and sustains it. Colossians 1:15 -17a says, And He is the image of the invisible G od, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all th ings.

This passage reaches the heights in graphically describing the Person, the place, and the role of God's Son in creation. Here we have a breath -taking picture of the power of God displayed. In yet other insightful passages, we find that the creation occurred at God's command through His Son, whose powerful Word continues to uphold, or sustain, all things: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir o f all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1 -3). By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3). For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water (2 Peter 3:5). It is tempting to read into these passages the clearly stated logos concept as found in the Gospel of John. After all, we usually read the Gospels first when we begin reading the New Testament. However, we should remember that, chronologically speaking, John's writings are the last of the New Testament. This means that it was not until John's awesome pronouncement near the end of the New Testament that the full brilliance of God's creative work was unveiled. The logos/Word, the preexistent Son, God the Son, Who later became incarnate, was shown to be the energizing power of God the Father. This logos/Word brought into being a universe that had not ex isted before; it was all a perfect display of the unsearchable wisdom and power of God.

The Old Testament Teaching We are highly privileged people as we look to the Old Testament. The veil has been pulled aside for us. We can now perceive truths in many Old Testament passages that were not apparent or were only dimly visible to the early readers. This is possible because of the enlightenment from the additional revelation of the New Testament passages interpreted by the writers in ways the ancient Hebrews did not discern. When it comes to the creative power of God, the Old Testament speaks consistently and with deep insight. In the Psalms, God is praised as an eternal Being for His creative work (Psalms 90:2; 102:25 -27). In the prophetic literature, God is described as the transcendent Creator Who alone rules over, and is involved in, His creation, including all humanity (Isaiah 40:21 -26, 44:24; 45:12; Jeremiah 10:16).
The Old Testament concept of Yahweh as Creator is full of grandeur. God is all -powerful, sovereign, transcendent as well as immanent and concerned about His creation, especially His human creation. Is it legitimate to take these exalted expressions of God's creative activity with us as we read the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2? Of course. This helps us to appreciate the exquisite literary framework, condensed simplicity, and sublime description of origins, including our own. The affirmation of a creator God that runs through the Old Testament reminds us that the Creation accoun t found in Genesis, chapters

1 and 2 is not an isolated, mythological tale. This is not to say that the account is a scientific one. Must it be scientific to be true? Many scientists admit there are truths that fall outside of scientific guidelines. Neith er is it necessary to hold that the revealed truth of Genesis, chapters 1 and 2 contains all that may be said about creation. In fact, we know it does not, because other biblical teachings on the same subject give us additional information. Genesis begins by saying that God created the heavens and the Earth. This is apparently a sort of umbrella statement, covering everything else. As the Spirit of God hovered over the emptiness and darkness of this watery mass, light and order emerged at the initiative of God. The creation account continues to unfold until at last we see God saying, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . (Genesis 1:26 -27). The summary and expansion of the account are given in Genesis 2:4 -25, while more details abo ut God's human creation are given in Genesis 2:7, 21 -22. We are not to suppose that when Moses wrote Genesis he knew the underlying details of the emerging order of the universe as we do today. Moses wrote only what was revealed to him. Was it revealed to him that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were involved in the creation of the universe? Specific mention is made of God ( elohim) and the Spirit of God ( ruah elohim) in Genesis 1:1-2. Other accounts tell us that God's Spirit participated in creation (Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30). Let us consider Moses' concept of the Godhead. Did Moses see polytheism in the use of the plural noun elohim for God? The answer is: No. Moses is the one who expressed the foundation of faith for all Israel in the Shema: Hear, 0 Israel ! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One (Deuteronomy 6:4). In this great affirmation the picture is clear: Although Moses used a plural form for the name of God he was stating that God is actually one. Also, the Genesis text used a singular verb, bara' , meaning He created, to describe God's creative work. This indicates singularity of thought. Why, then, did he use 'elohim? In view of Moses' expressed faith in one God, it can be said that he was using the common name for deity th at lingered long in Hebrew history. The Canaanites, with whom the Hebrews had been associated from their earliest times, had el (mighty one) at the head of their pantheon. Their pantheon was made up of many 'elohim (gods). The purging of a polytheistic co ncept of God from Hebrew thought proved to be a difficult task. In fact, one of the persistent sins of the Hebrews/Israelites throughout their history, at least until the Babylonian Captivity, was the sin of idolatry. To be sure, Moses was enlightened abo ut God's true identity. God had revealed Himself to the patriarchs as 'El Shaddai (God Almighty), but to Moses He revealed Himself as Yhwh (I AM) (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 3:14 -16). These forms are singular! It can be safely said that Moses was no more concerned about the origin of the plural form for God ( 'elohim) than we are about the origin of our neighbor's name, which happens to be Smith. Why then, did God say Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . .? Note the following possibilities: (1) the plural of majesty, as a king might use in proclaiming a decree; (2) the plural of intensification, to express completeness or fullness, as in the phrase the four corners of the earth; (3) the editorial we' as a way for God to relate more intimately

with his human creation. However, these possibilities fall short. While dealing with why plural forms are used, they evade the question: To whom is God speaking? We know that God has a heavenly host about Him with whom He has communication (1 Kings 22:19-23; Isaiah 6:1-8). However, to suggest that any created beings, such as angels, were invited by God to participate in the creation is going beyond what the Bible teaches about God as the sole creator of the universe and humans. Moses was speaking of th e superlative nature of God as far as revelation and language would allow. Like other inspired writers we have mentioned, did he actually say more than he realized? The answer is: Yes. Although there is no indication that Moses had any concept of three Persons in the Godhead, it is in harmony with later revelation that God is to be seen as one in essence and three in Persons. We can conclude that, in terms of ultimate truth, a revelation of the fullness of God is seen in the plural pronouns of Genesis 1:2 6. Indeed, it could hardly be otherwise.

The summation is that the totality of God was involved in the creation. That is, it involved God the Father, God the Son (as logos before His incarnation), and God the Spirit.
Lesson 3


We have seen the Son of God presented as the wisdom and power of God the Father. Our marvelous universe, made up of material elements, provides the setting for the revelation of God's knowledge and might. Our habitat in this vast handiwork of God is a small planet called Earth, one of several planets in a solar system in one of the countless galaxies of the unmeasured expanse. The Earth was prepared by God as a suitable place for the only living creature said to be made in God's image man. This divine/human relationship is no doubt the basis for God's concern for, and His involvement in, human history. However, the manner and extent of His close association with us could scarcely be imagined were it not for the unique record we have in the B ible. From the Scriptures we can deduce that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit were all active in the creation of man. We also find in the Scriptures that man's failure to remain properly related to God because of disobedience brought about a separation between Divinity and humanity. The separation between God and us could not be bridged by our efforts, and God, because of His pure nature, could not accept us in our blemished, sinful state. For reconciliation ever to be possible, God had to t ake the initiative in three specific ways. First, He Himself had to build a bridge across the gulf between humanity and Himself. Second, He had to provide the means by which we could qualify to cross the bridge back to Him. Third, He continually has to supply our strength, insight, qualifications, and guidance to enable us to make the

crossing successfully. God's personal involvement on our behalf came in the Person of Jesus Christ, whose blood bridged the gap between us and God (Ephesians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:19-22). To this end, God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Let us consider how Jesus, the incarnate God both God and man reflected His deity while He was on the Earth. Biblical Terms Reflect the Son's Deity on Earth At some point after God created mankind, something went terribly wrong. The man and the woman chose a self-serving path and disregarded God's protective warnings. This sin cost them their fellowship with God and brought on the horror of death. The chasm between God and Adam and Eve was deep and wide. The consequences were far -reaching; they even affect us. As every link in a chain used in oil drilling is smeared with oil, each generation in human history has been linked and smeared with sin. Unless altered, the human race was doomed to death (Romans 5:12). We were separated from God and without hope in the world (Ephesians 2:12). All would have been lost if God had not acted on our behalf. In an incredible demonstration of love, mercy, and grace, God came to earth in Person! He crossed the gulf. He built the bridge. He acted out of love that cannot be measured by its, height, depth, breadth, or length. What He did was not only unexpected; it was undeserved. What glorious, joyful, invigorating good news! On the other hand, how easy it is to misunderstand! Our specific goal in this lesson is to deepen our understanding and heighten our appreciation of what God has done for us. Many of the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament pertained to the coming of God's Messiah. The culmination of these is seen in the coming of Jesus. By the time the New Testament was completed with the writings of John, it had been revealed to the church and the world that not only was Jesus the Son of God, but He was also God the Son (John 1:1 -14; 20:26-31). The Son of God The phrase son of God did not necessarily carry with it the idea of deity in the Old Testament or the New Testament. Moses addressed the Israelites saying, You are the sons of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 14:1). The Israel ites knew that they were not divine beings, even though they were called sons of God. In the New Testament, we find Jesus saying that peacemakers will be called sons of God (Matthew 5:9). No one assumes from Jesus' statement that a peacemaker is deity. In many such examples, we see that the phrase son(s) of God does not carry with it the meaning of deity in the Old Testament or the New Testament. The only exception and it is a gigantic one is when it is applied to Jesus. Even here we should be aware that many of those applying this description to Jesus during

His lifetime may not have had deity in mind at all. The Israelites knew that their history was marked by individuals who were messiahs of God. Messiah means anointed or selected. God anointed m any leaders and kings to lead and preserve His people. Sometimes they were called sons of God (Psalm 89:20 -29; 2 Samuel 7:11b-16). In fact, the nation of Israel , collectively, was called God's son, according to Exodus 4:22 and Hosea 11:1. Thus, in the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish mind, the phrase son of God had deep significance. The Israelites were His chosen people. They were members of His family. They were the recipients and beneficiaries of His will. As God's son, Israel had a precious heritage. As God's sons, many of their leaders and kings were considered special appointees of Yahweh. When John the Baptist began his ministry, he quickly pointed out to the religious authorities that he was not the Messiah. Rather, he was preparing the way for Him. Jo hn never called Jesus the Messiah, but he insisted that the One coming after him who was actually before him was much greater than he. His statements implied the Messiahship and affirmed the Lordship of Jesus (Matthew 3:1 -3; John 1:15, 19 -23, 30). The King Therefore, when Jesus entered into His ministry after His baptism, it is not surprising that He was often referred to in terms of kingship by many of His Jewish contemporaries. Some, believing Him to be a great prophet, wanted to make Him king (John 6 :14-15). Others cried out, Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! (Luke 19:38; see also Psalm 118:26). Some Gentiles were also aware of the aura of kingship that surrounded Jesus' life and ministry. At His birth, magi from the East, presumably Gentiles from Persia or Arabia , came seeking the one born King of the Jews (Matthew 2:1 -2). Near the end of Jesus' life, Pilate, the Roman governor, was particularly concerned about Jesus' reputation and His acknowledgment that He was the Messiah, the King, and the Son of God (Matthew 26:63 64; John 18:37). At Jesus' crucifixion, Pilate ordered a sign to be placed on the cross; it read: JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS (John 19:19). The Messiah In His lifetime, Jesus was looked to by some Gentiles and many Jews as being God's anointed King and Son the Messiah. Jesus Himself accepted this status and the acknowledgment of others who ascribed these roles to Him (Matthew 16:16; John 1:49). However, just as John the Baptist never called Jesus the Messiah, Jesus seemed reluctant to identify Himself as the Messiah during His ministry. This may have been due to His own timetable of ongoing ministry (Matthew 16:20; 26:18; John 2:4; 7:6; 8:20; 17:1), or it may have been to keep the many misconceptions of the Jewish people about their predicted Messiah from being applied to Him. It was most certainly not because He lacked a

messianic consciousness. These terms used to describe Jesus did not necessarily mean that those using them thought that Jesus was God. In fact, the forthright confession that Jesus was deity, other than from Jesus Himself, came only after His resurrection, when doubting Thomas saw the scarred body of Jesus and said, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). The climax had arrived. The resurrection victory was decisive. The full identity of Jesus was now affirmed. Jesus is God (deity)! His Self-Awareness Reflects the Son's Deity on Earth One area of evidence concerning Jesus' deity is His divine awareness. Although we have little information about Jesus' personal life, the insights we are given in the Gospel accounts illustrate that He was aware of His deity. He used His divine omniscience and omnipotence as tools in His ministry. He knew all that would happen as He fulfilled His role as Redeemer including the thoughts and actions of others, both present and future. His self-awareness is shown in many ways. His Knowledge of His Relationship with His Father From early boyhood, approximately the Bar Mitzvah age, Jesus was conscious of His role in His Father's plans. When Joseph and Mary found Him in the temple, this conversation followed: Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, your father and I have been anxiously looking for You. And He said to them, Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father's house? (Luke 2:48 -50). Jesus was not referring to Joseph, but contrasting Mary's phrase Your father to His words My Father. There is no evidence that Jesus was unaware of His divine relationship with His heavenly Father. Quite the contrary! What does this Father/Son relationship mean in light of J esus' deity? He said elsewhere, All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him (Matthew 11:27) (emphasis ad ded); This is an affirmation of universality ( all things ) and exclusiveness ( except the Father . . . except the Son ). This unique Father/Son relationship means nothing unless it includes intimate, divine relationship. This relation of Father to Son enables the Son to reveal the Father to others as He chooses. This Divine initiative lies behind some of the remarks Jesus made to His disciples. For example, Jesus informed a questioning Thomas that He was (and is) the exclusive way to the Father. Thereupon, Philip asked that they be permitted to see the Father. Jesus' response gives a marvelous example of His consciousness of His identity: He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, Show us the Father ? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father,

and the Father in Me (John 14:9b -11a). He was aware that He was not the Father; He was aware that He was the Father's Son. The two are so closely related that to see one is to see the other; to hear one is to hear the other. Another time Jesus went further in saying that whatever the Father does is what the Son does because they are mutually aware of each other. Life and judgment have been entrusted to the Son by the Father; therefore, both the Father and the Son are to be honored: Jesus therefore answered and was saying to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes (John 5:19 -21). Jesus' awareness of His relationship with His Father rested on the foundation that He was (and is), as His Father is, deity. Did Others See Jesus as Deity? Jesus knew His own identity. His apostles heard Him confess it to them and others. As Christians, our faith also leads us to confess that Jesus is God. We are able to do so because we have heard the complete story of Jesus. We have read the full revelation of the Scriptures. We know and anticipate the wonderful biblical ending. Do you ever become so excited in reading a book that you could not resist peeking at the end to see how the story comes out? Aware of the marvelous ending, you begin to perceive hidden meanings in conversations, descriptions, and relationships as you read. Knowing the end beforehand can give us a feeling of satisfaction, but we may forget that the characters in the book do not know the ending. We wonder why individuals do or say certain things. Surely they should know better! No. They do not know how it ends! Therefore, we must be careful not to misread what they are saying or doing. If we read the Gospels through the ey es of those individuals we find in the Gospels, we may realize their perceptions are quite different from ours. It is easy to assume too much. We may push our privileged perspective, gleaned from knowing the entire story, upon the actions and words of thos e who were actually living or recording the events. Examples abound in Scripture. Take the episode of the Canaanite woman from the Tyre and Sidon area. She cried out to Jesus, Have mercy on me, 0 Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed (Matthew 15:22b). He healed her daughter and said to her, 0 woman, your faith is great;

be it done for you as you wish (Matthew 15:28a). What was the woman's belief about Jesus? She addressed Him as kurie. This word is translated Lord, which was a common address of respect. It is also translated as Master or Sir (Matthew 13:27). (Saul of Tarsus used this term to address Jesus even before he knew who He was [Acts 9:5]). The woman also called Jesus the Son of David. However, there is nothing in thi s exchange between Jesus and this Syrophoenician woman to indicate she saw Jesus as divine, a Deity. Her faith was in Jesus as a healer, not in Jesus as God. Neither Jesus' followers nor His opponents were prepared to see in the episodes of His life the evidence of Immanuel God with us. We, as readers of the whole truth about Jesus, should be careful not to anticipate the truth. We must let it unfold before us. We should not deliberately ignore this principle. Jesus spoke of coming to the truth, not anti cipating it prematurely (John 8:32). Terms such as King of the Jews, Messiah, and Son of God may have been used at times by uninspired men to describe Jesus without necessarily implying that He was a Divine Being. In Israel 's past, kings, anointed ones (m essiahs), and even Israel collectively had been called sons of God as God's chosen ones. Where shall we turn for definitive, convincing evidence that Jesus was not only the Son of God but also God the Son? We can go to the other writings of the New Testament; however, we need only the Gospels. The personal life and teachings of Jesus bring to the forefront that He was indeed deity. We can look at the Gospel accounts and see evidences that those of Jesus' day did not see, not because we are more insightful than they, but because we have had the privilege of looking forward to the later revelation of the entire New Testament. His Awareness of His Divine Knowledge Another area to consider is the knowledge Jesus had beyond human capability. This occurs so often in the Gospel accounts that it is easily overlooked because of its frequency. We will note several examples taken from the Gospel of Mark: (1) When Jesus healed the paralytic brought to Him by four men, Mark 2:8 says that He knew the thinking of some teachers of the Law even before they spoke. (2) Jesus began to teach His disciples tha t He was to be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the Law. He would be killed, but after three days He would rise from the dead (8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33 -34). (3) He predicted that some of His contemporaries would still be alive to see the kingdom of God come with power. (4) He mentioned the persecution and death of some of His apostles (10:39).

(5) He knew ahead of time about details that would affect His ministry (11:2 -6). (6) When Jesus was questioned, His reply was often said to be b ased on His knowledge of the inner thoughts and attitudes of the questioners (12:13 -17). (7) Jesus graphically described the coming destruction of the temple and the catastrophe to follow (13:1-23). (8) He knew that Judas would betray Him, that Peter wou ld deny Him three times, and that all the apostles would fall away (14:17 -21, 27, 30).

Lesson 4


His Timetable Reflects the Son's Deity on Earth Introduction Jesus was fully aware of His identity as deity, as God the Son. He knew from an early age that He was the chosen One (the Messiah). Apparently, Jesus tried to keep the revealing of these two facets of His identity within the framework of His personal ministry timetable. This was not an easy task. While Jesus did not keep His identity and position completely concealed, He did control the world's developing awareness of their significance. Let us examine two significant ways in which Jesus did this. How Jesus Concealed His Identity Jesus tried to control others' awareness of His identity by concealing it. When Jesus performed signs (semeia), John said: These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believin g you may have life in His name (John 20:31). In John's Gospel, however, the very first sign Jesus did was done only at the urging of His mother. Why? Because His hour had not yet come (John 2:4). Jesus was cautious in displaying His supernatural powe r for several reasons: 1. He knew that His power would not necessarily be seen as the power of God (Matthew 12:24). 2. He knew that belief in Him simply upon the basis of miracles and wonders and signs (Acts 2:22), would not, in itself, be sufficient. 3. Jesus knew that great signs and wonders could be used by false Christs and

false prophets as powerful tools of deception (Matthew 24:24 -25). 4. He did not want people to rush ahead of His timetable for laying the foundation for His kingdom. Jesus utilized signs frequently. Perhaps we could actually say that He would have been out of character had He not done so. Many times His great compassion moved Him to act; even though He often specifically requested that the miracle be kept secret (Matthew 8:3-4; 9:27-30). Sometimes the miraculous was used as a means to show His glory and the glory of His Father (John 2:11; 11:1 -4, 38-44). However, it is obvious that He tried to avert a political or premature proclamation of His supernatural power and Messiahs hip (Mark 8:29-30; John 1:48-5l). How Jesus Revealed His Identity Jesus tried to control the unfolding significance of His full identity and role by revealing His identity according to His own timetable. One of His favorite descriptions of Himself was the phrase Son of Man. Remarkably, in the Gospels this phrase was never used by anyone about Him. The only time the term was addressed to Jesus was when the crowd threw back into His face His own statement: . . . how can You say The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? (John 12:34b). There is no question that Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man. He used this description of Himself some eighty times in the four Gospels, disregarding the parallelisms. Even when taking the par allelisms into account, one is struck by a singular fact: Jesus not only identified Himself with this title but also occupied Himself in His overall ministry as the Son of Man. Let us carefully add how encompassing Jesus' role as the Son of Man actually is. (We urge you to read the supporting Scripture). 1. The Son of Man underwent hardship (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58) 2. He was a servant (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45) 3. He identified with people (Matthew 11:19; Luke 6:22; 7:34; John 9:35) 4. He was interested in people's reaction to His Son of Man role (Matthew 16:13) 5. He was betrayed (Matthew 17:22; 20:18; 26:24, 45; Mark 9:31; 10:33; 14:21, 41; Luke 9:44; 22:48; 24:7a) 6. He suffered (Matthew 17:12; 26:2; Mark 8:31; 9:12; Luke 9:22) 7. He was crucified (Luke 24:7b; John 3:14; 8:28; 12:24) 8. He arose (Matthew 12:40; 17:9; Mark 9:9; Luke 11:30; 24:7c)

9. He was revealed (Luke 17:30) 10. He is coming again (Matthew 10:23; 16:27; 24:27, 30, 37, 39, 44; 25:31; 26:64b; Mark 13:26; Luke 12:40; 17:2 4; 18:8; 21:27; John 3:13) 11. He will judge (Matthew 25:31 -46; Mark 8:3; Luke 9:26; 12:8 -9; 17:26; 21:36) 12. He has a kingdom (Matthew 16:28; 19:28) 13. He will ascend (John 6:62) 14. He will reign (Matthew 26:64a; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69) 15. He is superior to the Old Law (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5) 16. He is superior to angels (Matthew 13:41) 17. He is glorified (John 1:51; 13:31) 18. He forgives sins (Matthew 12:32; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24; 12:10) 19. He is authoritative (Matthew 9:6; John 5:27) 20. He fulfilled the Scriptures (Matthew 26:24; Mark 14:21a; Luke 18:31) 21. He gives life (John 6:27, 53 -56) 22. He saves (Luke 19:10) 23. He has a timetable (Mark 14:41; John 12:23) It is paradoxical, almost contradictory, that God the Son would continually describe Himself as the Son of man. Why did He do it? Using this phrase was a beautiful and subtle way of both revealing and concealing His true identity. This gave Him a forum by which He could control the unfolding of His true nature and identity during His earthly ministry. His timetable was important to Him. As Rabbi, Master, and Teacher, He was always aware of this timetable. For example, His most prominent method of teaching was the use of parables. This was a method suited to both revealing and concealing the truth taught. He also employed other types of figurative language for the same reason, along with His promise that at the proper time He would communicate in plain speech. Even His incarnation was a sort of concealed truth, a living parable, if you will. After all, who could look upon the face of God directly and live. Jesus was God in the flesh and because of the veil of His flesh, a human being could look at Him and say, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). When Divinity came to us in a veil of flesh, that veil became the glorious revelation of God's great love, mercy, and grace when Jesus body was pierced and He shed His blood on Calvary . God the Son carefully controlled the peoples evolving understanding of His complete identity as the Son

of Man. The Son of Man Perhaps we tend to think of the term Son of man as Jesus identification with humanity. However, if we had lived at the time of Jesus the term would have had the opposite effect. The phrase would more readily have identified Jesus as a heavenly figure. Why? Because Jesus lived in an apocalyptic time. While we cannot investigate apocalypticism on a full scale, a few explanatory comments can help us to grasp fully Jesus' favorite description of Himself Son of man. The world of 200 B.C. to about A.D. 100 had become a world tumbled in for the Jews. Preceding these centuries, the Jewish people had experienced calamity after calamity. In 721 B.C. the kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria . From 606 to 586 B.C. the kingdom of Judah had been conquered, the people had been taken into Babylonian Captivity, and their temple and beloved city of Jerusalem had been destroyed. In 539 B.C. the Persians had conquered the Babylonians and shortly thereafter had permitted the Jews to return to their homeland. There they eventually had felt the harsh blows of Greek, Syrian, Egyptian, and Roman domination. Although they had rebuilt the temple (515 B.C.) and regained their indpendence from Syrian rule for a time (ca. 165 -163 B.C.), they remained under direct Roman rule for centuries, from about 63 B.C. The Romans destroyed the second temple in A.D. 70. This prolonged historical collapse of order bought anxiety and dis may to generations of Jews. Their national hopes were thwarted. They found it necessary to reinterpret some of the promises found in their prophetic Scriptures. To many, it was either reinterpretation or loss of hope. Where was their promised kingdom? Wher e was their promised Messiah? What about the promises of grand restoration and messianic rule by God's appointed One? Out of this cauldron of agony a genre of apocalyptic literature emerged to bring hope to God's despairing people. This message of hope wa s usually set forth in elaborate, symbolic, figurative language. Basic to most of this writing was the conviction that God had given up on history because of the wickedness of the human race, but that God was still in control. God would overcome the worl d; the righteous would be vindicated, and God's reign (kingdom) would flourish either in time or in a posthistorical kingdom. The promises of the Scriptures were still expected to come truebut in a new way. In this context, the phrase Son of man carried electrifying significance. It indicated one of heavenly origin. The apocalyptic section of Daniel, chapters 7 through 12, points to a Son of man as being in the presence of the Ancient of Days. He was given a kingdom which will not be destroyed (7:14). In contrast to the kingdoms of the earth, Daniel said, the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom and will possess it foreveryes, for ever and ever [NIV]. The apocalyptic hopes of the Jews

were grounded in the Ancient of Days (God), Who would intervene in human history on their behalf through the coming of the Son of man. He would vindicate them; He would reign, and they would inherit His kingdom. Without question, the early Christians eventually saw Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Son of Man of Old Testament description. This means that they acknowledged Him as being of the heavenly realm; He was God. He was not a son of God like Solomon (2 Samuel 7:14) or Israel (Exodus 4:22 -23). As the Son of Man, He was the fulfillment of Psalm 8:4-6 (see Hebrews 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:22) and Isaiah 7:14 (also see Matthew 1:22 -23). He was, indeed, the apocalyptic Victor, the Divine One. He was seen in all of His glorious magnificence as the first and the last . . . the living One (Revelation 1:12-18).

Why, then, were the people who heard Jesus constantly apply the phrase Son of Man to Himself unable to accept Him as the long -awaited fulfillment of their hopes and dreams? Because of His incarnation. The Jewish apocalyptists had reoriented their thinking and their interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. According to their reinterpretation, the solution to their calamities was to be nothing less than a personal intervention of God near or at the end of time. The old order would f all. The apocalyptic reign of God would guarantee their glorious ingathering. The Son of Man would be a catalyst for this glorification. Obviously, a mere human being could not fufill such expectations. No mortal could consummate one age and usher in anot her, altering history and reality! Jesus in the flesh did not fit their apocalyptic vision. Although He frequently spoke of Himself as the Son of Man, His humanity hid His deity. He repeatedly stressed that the kingdom of God was at hand, but the people saw nothing to indicate its apocalyptic glory and grandeur. Their vision of deliverance and restoration to glory did not include God-in-flesh. Jesus' ministry unfolded His identity and mission on His prescribed timetable. Jesus guarded His miracles to avoid being seen as merely another wonderworker. He was cautious about revealing His identity as the Messiah to avoid being labeled as one of the false Christs (Mark 13:21-23). He used the term Son of Man knowing that the apocalyptists would never see Him filling the role of their son of man. Why did He use this indirect approach in His ministry? God has not confronted humanity directly since the fall. [God] who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light whom no man has seen or can see . . . (1 Timothy 6:15b -16). If God, in His unapproachable light, should directly confront humanity in its sinful condition, the effect would be devastating. Therefore, Jesus, as God, came incarnate, veiled by the flesh. In this way, He could seek and save the lost without consuming them by His blazing brilliance and power. If God dwells in

unapproachable light, doesnt that also mean that in His unveiled, pure holiness He cannot come into our sinful presence? H owever, He was among us! God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them . . . (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus used discretion as He brought this breathtaking truth to light. He did not press His Messiahshipbut He did admit to being God's Messiah (John 4:25 -26). He did not yield to thrill seekers who expected wondrous signs but He did perform compassionate miracles designed to establish His Messiahship (Luke 7:11 -17; John 20:30-3l). He did not fit the apocalypt ic expectations of His contemporariesbut He did teach that He was the Son of Man. (See the 23 roles of the Son of Man mentioned earlier.) He did not teach, as did the apocalyptists, that the kingdom of God was an eschatological (end -of-the-world) event; rather, He proclaimed the nearness of the kingdom and its coming within His generation (Mark 1:14 -15; 9:1). Thus it has been well said: We do not by any means merely interpret Jesus in the light of apocalyptic but interpret apocalyptic in the light of Je sus. The I Am Statements Reflect the Sons Deity on Earth Several aspects of the life and claims of Jesus are better understood against the historical setting and religious climate of His time. However, the universal significance of Jesus and His mission cannot be limited to, or measured by, the usual norms of place, time, culture, religious thought, or history. Rather, He transcends these realms and gives each of them proper meaning. He transcends them because He is God the Son. He gave them meaning b y living within them as the God-man. His deity and His humanity are indispensable for our very existence. Without His deity we would not have been created; without His humanity we could not be saved. It is not surprising, then, that Jesus taught forthrigh tly that He was God. Neither is it surprising that the New Testament writers emphasized His divinity. Without this ultimate truth as the bedrock of His life and teaching, Jesus would be no more than a great philosopher, moralist, or teacher; our hope for e scape from the clutches of sin and death would be vain and groundless. Let us face the issue squarely: Either Jesus was God or He was a cruel imposter. What does He have to say precisely about this question? His Deity Affirmed Jesus was called Son of God by many who did not necessarily think of Him as deity. We have seen that the term Messiah did not, in itself, signify deity. We have seen that Hismiracles did not always compel faith in Him as a Divine Being. We have also seen that His constant descrip tion of Himself as the Son of Man was not properly understood by the majority as a way of affirming His deity. We have not, however, examined Jesus' specific claims to be God. We will do so now.

Jesus was a Jew. His stature, learning, life, and activities led the Sanhedrin Rabbi Nicodemus to address Jesus, saying, Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher (John 3:2b). Jesus knew the Torah; the teachers of the Torah were aware that He knew well the Sacred Writings. Therefore, when Jesus used the Scriptures as a testimony of His divinity, the teachers did not miss His point. They were aghast and incensed because they knew that He was serious. They knew He was claiming to be God. The Jews held the name of God revealed to Moses in such reverenc e that they did not pronounce it. Textual evidence for this goes as far back as the Dead Sea Scrolls, about 100 B.C. The Dead Sea scroll of Isaiah shows that the scribes wrote the word adonay (Lord) over the word Yahweh (God). In that way readers were reminded to say Lord instead of the ineffable Name. Of course, the name of God revealed to Moses was Yahweh, a form of the verb to be. In other words, God revealed Himself to Moses as the I am or I will be (what I will), the Existing One. We can scarcely understand the anger and horror aroused among the Jews when Jesus applied this name to Himself: Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am! Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him . . . (John 8:58, 59a). This was the ultimate announcement. No higher claim could be made. The ego eimi (I am) is not only a reference to God, as reflected in the Greek New Testament, but also a translation of the way God spoke of Himself in Hebrew ani ani hu (I am He), in an emphatic way (Deuteronomy 32:39). Neither could the statement be reasonably considered anything other than emphatic. The phrase I tell you the truth of the NIV is, in the original, Amen, amen, traditionally translated, verily, verily (KJV), truly, truly (RSV), etc. However, the Jews did not believe Him. They considered His claim blasphemy. Since blasphemy was a capital offense punishable by stoning (Leviticus 24:16), they sought to accomplish by mob action what they were not allowed to do under Roman law (John 18:31). All things considered, it seems appropriate to speak of the I am formula as follows: It is Jesus' boldest declaration about himself. I am. This means : where I am, there is God there God lives, speaks, calls, acts, asks, decides, love . . . Nothing bolder can be said, or imagined. This profound statement is not primarily a confession. It is much more than that. It is an astounding declaration. It is the language of deity Himself (e.g., Isaiah 41:4). With this in mind, many statements in Jesus' life become charged with special significance. Note some examples: I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the door of the sheep, I am the good shepherd, I am the resurrection, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the true vine, I am the life

(John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). How could one make such statements about himself? Someone has said that Jesus was either a fan atic, a lunatic, or God. Anyone who reads these accounts, believes them, and then insists that Jesus was a fanatic or a lunatic says more about himself than he does about Jesus. His Deity Confirmed An episode in Jesus life shows others acting in an unus ual manner when He made the I am statement. Judas, the betrayer, led a contingent of soldiers and Jewish religious leaders to the Garden of Gethsemane in search of Jesus. They found Him there withHis disciples. Jesus asked them whom they were seeking (John 18:4). When they said, Jesus the Nazarene, He replied, Ego eimi(I am, translated I am He in most versions). Did this armed band of soldiers and religious dignitaries understand Jesus to say only that He was, indeed, the itinerate rabbi from Ga lilee ? If so, why did they withdraw and fall to the ground? (John 18:2 -8). Did they see something frightening and ominous in this unorthodox rabbi from a disparaged region who had been ridiculed and rejected by the religious establshment in Jerusalem ? Hardly! What they saw was an impressive figure, and what they heard was divine languageEgo eimi. He said it twice! The pronoun He was supplied by the translators. It is not in the Greek text. References to Bibles that italicize to indicate words added to the text will verify this. Notes in most annotated Bibles will also indicate the absence of He in the original. On earlier occasions Jesus had explained to His Jewish audience His unique relationship with His heavenly Father. He had stressed that He was f rom above while they were from below. He had said that they could not go where He was going because of their sins. However, He had offered them a remedy, saying, You will surely die in your sins unless you come to believe that I am. Jesus put it squarely before them. The question of the I am could no longer be merely an interesting theological side issue. Neither can it be today. Jesus is I am. His Father is I am. This is the language of deity. Any confession of Jesus that falls short of belief in His deity closes the door to Him and His heavenly home. As deity, Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah. As deity, Jesus identified Himself as the King of the Jews. As deity, Jesus identified Himself as the Son of Man. As deity, Jesus identified Himself as the Son of God. As deity, Jesus came into the world to seek and to save sinners. Jesus was, indeed, God the Son. All of these identifications were made while He was in the veil of flesh. All of them were demonstrations of the power, glory, love, and grace of God. All of these identifications were verified a nd authenticated by His resurrection! This fleshly veil both concealed and revealed a loving and gracious God. We will next examine that veil of flesh as we study the humanity of Jesus.

Lesson 5


We have stated that without Jesus' deity we would not have been created and without His humanity we could not be saved. We have dwelt at considerable length on the deity of Jesus. This is as it should be. The need exists. Consider America , for example. A recent poll asked the question: Is religion increasing or losing its influence in American life? Of those who answered, 21% said that religion is increasing in influence; 65% said it is losing in influence. George Gallup, Jr., a leading national pollster, has said that Am erica is a nation of biblical illiterates. The stark fact is, most Americans don't know what they believe or why. If that is true of many who profess Christianity as their faith, what of the billions of people alive today who make no claim to Christia nity in any form? Yes, there is a need to present a convincing thesis that Jesus the Nazarene was as human as we are. How else could we have an understanding, forgiving Savior Who has truly suffered and withstood temptation? Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:17 -18). Some have taught that Jesus was only spirit that God could not coexist with flesh. On the contrary, Jesus was flesh. He hungered (Matthew 4:2), He thirsted (John 19:28), and He became weary (John 4:6). His earthly body poured forth tears (John 11:35), sweat (Luke 22:44), and blood (John 19:34). Those who were with Jesus knew that He was an extraordinary man, but they had no doubt that He was a man. His Humanity as Evidenced Outside the Bible We have dealt extensively with the deity of Jesus. When we speak of deity, we speak of God, a Supreme Being. When we wish to identify God in Person, we speak of God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit. We have seen that Jesus is God the Son. Jesus is God Incarnate, God-in-flesh. The Docetics rejected the humanity of Jesus because they believed God (pure spirit) could not identify Himself so intimately with impure matter (flesh). That was heresy; it still is. Why all the fuss? Is not God the Savior? Why is it so important to understand that Jesus was human? The humanity of Jesus brings us to the startling realization that God became flesh in order to save humanity. From early times man has been taught that life is in blood. Bloodshed was required in sacrifice for sins, yet the blood of animals could not remove sin (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, in order to save us from our sinful state, from which we could not possibly save ourselves, God the Son offered a blood sacrifice of perfect, sinless merit, the efficacy of which is unlimited (Hebrews 9:11-14). Mark it down! The blood shed on the cross was not some sort of divine blood. The body was not a superhuman body. The death of Jesus on the cross was not the death of God. It was the death of a human bein g, a man. It was a necessary sacrifice. (Would the Father have subjected His Son to this if some less costly sacrifice had been sufficient?) Therefore, to deny the humanity of Jesus would, in effect, deny our own salvation. Having stressed the divinity of Jesus and the importance of His humanity, we now turn to records affirming His historicity and His

humanity. We are primarily interested in what the Bible says about God the Son. However, during decades of preaching and teaching I have often been asked if there are any evidences for the existence of Jesus outside the Bible. The calendar year is one illustration that we are all influenced by Jesus' presence in the world! Questioners want literary evidence. For the benefit of those who may have wondered about evidences outside the Bible concerning the life of Christ, let us mention briefly a few written sources that have survived the ravages of time. Please note that we are not interpreting or evaluating these documents. We are giving them simply as evidence that Jesus is mentioned by secular historians as well as by Bible writers. Since Jesus was a Jew Who lived and worked almost exclusively among the Jews, it is interesting to note that no responsible Jewish source takes on the task of denying that Jesus ever lived. On the contrary, extrabiblical Jewish writers indicate that He did live. For example, Josephus, a Jewish historian of the first century A.D., recorded the following in his Antiquities of the Jews: And there arose about this time Jesus, a wise man, if indeed we should call him a man. For he was a doer of marvelous deeds (miracles), a teacher of men who receive the truth with pleasure. He led away many Jews, and also many of the Greeks. This man was the Christ! Evidence from Roman writers also shows that Jesus was an actual historical person. Tacitus was a Roman historian who lived through the turn of the first century until about A.D. 120. When he wrote of the fire that had destroyed much of Rome in A.D. 64 he wrote of Nero's attempt to blame this tragedy on the Christians who lived in Rome : Consequently, to get rid of the report [which accused him of having set fire to Rome ], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most ex quisite tortures as a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus . . . Although other evidence could be cited from Jewish and Roman sources, those given are enough to accomplish our purpose. Jesus was a man Who lived at a specific place and in a specific span of time in history. This is verified from the Bible and from literary sources outside the Bible that were written by men who we re generally antagonistic to the early Christian movement. Even though some of the sources have been attacked by critics, the fact still remains that the historical Jesus was spoken of in extrabiblical sources. Why would writers like Josephus and Tacitus write about Jesus in relationship with other historical persons, such as Pilate and Tiberius, if Jesus never really existed? Ancient creeds describe Jesus as very God and very man. This is the basis and the essence of the Christian faith. This overarchin g truth upon which Christianity rests was derived from the early Christian proclamation of the Gospel, which utilized much Old Testament material, and the study of the Scriptures, which continued to appear through the last half of the first century A.D. The Baptism of the Son Baptism is strictly a New Testament practice. The baptism being administered by John was for the Jews and was a call to repent and accept the remission of sins. The baptism of Jesus, like His birth, was exceptional. It was different from the norm. WhenHe was thirty years of age (Luke 3:23), Jesus traveled maybe sixty miles from Nazareth (Mark 1:9) to Bethany (John 1:29) to be baptized by John. He joined the thousands who were coming out to hear John and to be baptized by him. Perhap s

some were lined up, going out to John in the Jordan , to be baptized. John looked up, and thenext one coming to him was Jesus. John was surprised and hesitant, but he baptized Him. The scene of His baptism illustrates the Godhead decisively: God spoke from heaven, Jesus was baptized, and the Spirit descended in the form of a dove. The Spirit gave us three accounts of Jesus' baptism, with Matthews account being the fullest: Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? But Jesus answering said to him, Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him. And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My beloved Son, in who m I am well pleased (Matthew 3:13-17; cf. Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22). This baptism was the first of four momentous events that formed a beautiful prelude to the public work of Jesus. First, when Jesus was baptized, the eighteen years of almost total silence was broken. Second, the Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:16). This was apparently the moment when Jesus received the Holy Spirit without measure (Luke 3:22; 4:1). Third, Jesus was acknowledged by His Father (Matthew 3:17). T he Father said that Jesus was His Son and that He was well pleased with Him. Fourth, Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1 -11). J. W. McGarvey wrote: It behoved him to be tempted, that thus sharing our nature with its weakness and temptation he might bring us to share in his nature with its strength and sinlessness. John was the prophet of God sent to prepare the way for the Messiah. As the connecting link between the Old Testament and the New Testament He had a twofold mission: (1) to prepare the people (Jews) for the coming of the Christ and His kingdom and (2) to identify the Messiah (John 1:23, 31 -34). What Was the Baptism of John? John's baptism was a baptism of expectation. It looked forward to the coming of Jesus (Acts 19:4). Those who were baptized by John pledged that they would receive the Christ when He came. John was not making disciples for himself but for the Messiah (Matthew 3:11). John's baptism was also a baptism of repentance (Acts 19:4). The general purpose of his baptism was to bring the people to repentance. John prepared the way for the Lord by turning the hearts of the people to righteousness. This was a new kind of repentance. Prior to this, repentance was motivated by earthly blessings; the repentance John preached called for people to repent in view of the coming of the Messiah and His kingdom. Next, it was a baptism unto the remission of sins (Mark 1:4). This baptism a water baptism unto the remission of sins is the only kind of baptism commanded in the New Testament. The blood of Jesus reached backward as well as forward. John's baptism was also a baptism of obedience (Luke 7:30). When the baptism of John was rejected, the counsel of God was rejected. His baptism was a part of the righteousness of God. Why Was Jesus Baptized by John? There is a negative view. As we explore the reasons why Jesus was baptized, let us

look at the negative side. First, Jesus did not need repentance. He was sinless during His entire earthly life. Hebrews 4:15 says: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. He was perfectly righteous and could not have been more righteous. Second, Jesus did not need the remission of sin s. Remission of sins implies guilt of sin. Having never sinned, Jesus had no guilt to remove. Third, He did not do it to be consecrated into the office of the priesthood. He was not a priest while on Earth. God made an exception in His case and made Him our high priest in heaven. Fourth, He did not do it so that deity might come upon Him. He was divine from the beginning (Matthew 1:23). His baptism did not make Him divine. There is a positive view. Let us now look at Jesus' baptism from a positive perspective. Jesus stated specifically why He was baptized by John. He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). His baptism was a fulfillment. Being baptized by John would fulfill the righteousness of God. Righteousness should be equated with walking according to all the commandments of God. We read: all Thy commandments are righteousness" (Psalm 119:172), and: They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord (Luke 1:6). Jesus later asked, The baptism of John was from what source, from heaven or from men? (Matthew 21:25). It was the will of God for Him to be baptized John (John 6:38). Therefore, in submitting to John's baptism He was submitting to God's will. Whilethe reason given by Jesus concerning His baptism is the only specific one to be found in the Gospels, His baptism has several significant implications. First, it implies endorsement. His baptism sanctioned the work and message of John, who was a prophet of God. Jesus' baptism by John said something about the origins of John's baptism. It was of God. It also said something about the purpose of John's baptism. His baptism was part of God's plan for the era that preceded the public ministry of Jesus. Second, Jesus' baptism implies commencement. At His baptism, Jesus was acknowledged as the Son of God. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, descended upon Him following His baptism. From this time forward, John would single Him out as the Lamb of God (John 1:32-36). At His baptism, Jesus was confessed by His Father. His quiet life in Nazareth would now be left behind. From His baptism Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted, and from the temptations He went into His public ministry. What Lessons Do We Learn from the Baptism of Jesus? Jesus baptism does not teach us to be baptized by John. Many have said, Id like to be baptized just like Jesus was. Of course, it would be impossible to be baptized just like Jesus was. John's baptism was for a particular period and a particular people. His baptism is no longer valid (Acts 19:1-5). Jesus, the sinless One, was baptized simply to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus obeyed the Law because He lived under it. To be obedient to God, Jesus had to obey the Law. However, it is not God's will for us to obey the Law today. We cannot be baptized by John today, but we can obey God for the same reasons Jesus did. We should ask, What is the will of God for me today, that I may obey it just as Jesus obeyed His Father's will for Him? His baptism does teach us the lesson of obedience. It was His Father's will that He be baptized. Jesus gladly submitted to the baptism of John because it was the will of His Father. No one can claim that he is following the example of Jesus unless he has

surrendered to the will of God. Sentimentalism is not always submission. If we have not submitted to the baptism of the Great Commission, we have not submitted to God (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus' baptism also teaches us the lesson of humility. The sinful baptized the sinless. The inferior baptized the superior (Matthew 3:13 -17). Humility means losing ourselves in something bigger than ourselves Jesus was more concerned about the Father's will than His own image. Jesus learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9). In addition, His baptism teaches us that obedience pleases our Father. After His baptism, God acknowledged Jesus as His unique Son in a public fashion. He not only said that He was pleased with Him, but He said that He was well please d with Him. How do we please our Father? The obvious answer is that we please Him through obedience. Three times the Holy Scriptures represent God as speaking out of the heavens in testimony for Jesus Christ: at His baptism, on the occasion of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and in John 12:28 -30. What Does It Mean to Follow in the Steps of Jesus? Jesus came to do the will of His Father. The will of God for Jesus meant baptism, temptation, and the cross. What does God's will mean for us? It means the b aptism of the Great Commission, for one thing (Mark 16:15). Jesus invited us to do God's will and showed us how. Following in the steps of Jesus means doing the will of God. If Jesus was so serious about Johns baptism, how serious ought we to be about a greater baptism, the baptism of the Great Commission?

Lesson 6


Introduction The events following our Lord's baptism surprise us. We expect to read that He immediately entered His ministry of teaching, but this was not the case. Instead, He entered a privacy and solitude more complete than that which He had known in Nazareth . His home became the wilderness, and His companions became the wild beasts (Mark 1:12-13). Into this privacy came a fierce battle, a spiritual conflict, a collision of heaven and earth, as Jesus was tempted by Satan. Jesus temptations are best referred to as testings, because temptation includes a vicious desire from within that responds to the devil's invitation (James 1:10 -12). Although Jesus did not exhibit such a desire, His temptations give us a sharp picture of His humanity. The Holy Spirit placed three accounts of the temptations in the Bible (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:2-13; Mark 1:12-13). Marks account is so brief that it is more of an allusion to the temptations than an account of them, but it was Mark who added that Jesus was among the wild beasts. Jesus was tempted many times during His life, but Satan must have made a very special effort to induce Jesus to sin at this point in His life. Perhaps the temptations involved all forty days of His fasting, with the strongest tests coming at the end of this period. This temptation experience occurred right after His baptism. Mark 1:12 says: And immediately the Spirit impelled Hi m to go out into the wilderness. The initiative to go into the wilderness was divine, not diabolical: After the approval of heaven at Jordan came the assault of hell; after the dove, the devil. Likewise, the new Christian must be ready to face temptatio ns right after his baptism into Christ. The Christian will face

trials that the atheist will not experience. Luke 4:13 says that following this series of temptations the devil departed from Him until an opportune time. This implies that Jesus had a brie f rest from the tempter following these temptations. It further implies that the devil came back to tempt Him at other times. Why was Jesus tempted? It was the divine plan that Jesus should come into the world and be tempted as a man. The Scriptures give two basic reasons as to why Jesus was tempted. First, He was tempted so that He could fully sympathize with our struggles (Hebrews 2:15-18; 4:15). Does this mean that Jesus knew every kind of temptation experienced by men and women of all ages? Obviously , He did not, but in principle He faced every trial we face. Temptation assailed Him in its full force along every avenue through which it can reach human nature. We have not felt the full force of temptation. When we were first tempted, we gave into it. S ince Jesus had never given in to temptation, He felt its full force. Suppose you were a runner who had never lost a race. While running a close race, you would feel the full force of the test. One who loses all the time does not worry much about losing aga in. However, one who has never lost regards losing as unthinkable. The surrounding circumstances and incidentals of the temptations may differ, but temptations are essentially the same for all men and all women of all ages. Temptation can come to man alon g only three avenues: appetite (lust of the flesh); avarice (lust of the eyes); and ambition (the pride of life). All other temptations are merely variants of these three. That means that Jesus was tempted in every part of His humanity, as we are. Also, He was tempted so that He would qualify as a perfect Savior (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8, 9). He was tempted for His own sake, as a test of His character (Hebrews 5:7 9). He was tempted for our sakes, that He might become a sympathizing High Priest (Hebrews 4:15-16) and our example. The temptations of Christ assume tremendous truths. First, they presuppose the reality of sin and the devil. Satan is not just a force. He is a spirit who seeks your soul. The Hebrew word for Satan, used by Mark, is translated devil in Matthew and Luke. It means slanderer or false accuser. Second, they imply that Jesus was fully human. Why did the devil test Him, if He could not sin? His temptations imply that He could have sinned. Third, they reveal that the temptation to sin is not sin. We cannot avoid temptation. Martin Luther said, I cannot keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from building nests in my hair. Winning by a Miracle versus Winning as a Man Jesus was first tested in the area of physical a ppetite. Appetite is a desire to enjoy something. John called it the lust of the flesh (1 John 2:16), And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, You are the Son of God, command th at these stones become bread. But He answered and said, It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:2 -4). What were the circumstances of the first temptation? Jesus was physically weak when Satan confronted Him with the first temptation. He had fasted forty days and nights. Satan often strikes in our weak moments. What harm would there be in turning stones into bread? Satan was asking Jesus to fulfill a natural need in an unnatu ral way. He was asking Jesus to satisfy a legitimate hunger by illegitimate means. Jesus was in need of food. Satan suggested a way of getting

food quickly. We might say, What harm was there in that suggestion? Had Jesus satisfied His hunger in that fashion, He would have been guilty of satisfying a natural need in a miraculous manner. This was not the purpose of miraculous power (John 20:31). Paul did not use miraculous power to remove his thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7). Epaphroditus did not heal himself by miraculous power (Philippians 2:25 -27). Trophimus did not use the miraculous to overcome the natural (2 Timothy 4:20). Jesus could not resort to His divine nature to overcome a human temptation and continue to be human. Jesus condescended a nd became man, truly and fully man (Philippians 2:5-7). He faced temptation on the same level that all men do. Upon the cross, He could only suffer for sin. He could not remove the pain by a miracle and still be a man. Had He worked a miracle to overcome H is hunger pangs, He would have been a discouragement to all of His followers, who must handle their human problems without the aid of miracles. It is not hard to think of multitudes that have given birth to heartache and despair by attempting to satisfy legitimate needs in illegitimate ways. The target of this temptation is the human body. Everett F. Harrison said: In coming days Jesus was to make stringent demands upon his followers in terms of discipleship. Fundamental among those demands would be the insistence upon self-denial. The right to make such a requirement and the vigor of its statement come right out of the temptation experience. Jesus established a pattern that must be reproduced in those who seek to come after him. If our Lord had yielded to this temptation by providing himself with bread through means at his command, discipleship would have been out of the question for those who must earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow. Jesus could not say, Learn of me, apart from giving a worthy demonstration of selflessness, one that would have meaning to his followers. How did Jesus overcome this temptation? Jesus fought the devil with the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Our Lord quoted to the devil Deu teronomy 8:3. This verse shows that bread, is not the only consideration. If bread were the only concern, it would have been perfectly legitimate for Jesus to turn the stones into bread. Bread was not Jesus' only consideration. He was here to do the will of God. Doing His will involved living as a man and facing the devil. Winning by Trusting God versus Winning by Tempting God The second area in which Jesus was tempted was ambition. John called it the pride of life (1 John 2:16). Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, If You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge concerning You; and On their hands 'they will bear You up, lest You strike Your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test (Matthew 4:5-7). What were the circumstances of the second temptation? The setting was the pinnacle of the temple in the city of Jerusalem. The word pinnacle probably means wing. This was probably the southern wing, which overlooked the Kidron Valley two hundred feet below. Satan was asking Jesus to

leap into this abyss, to cast Himself d own from the temple and claim His Father's promise. The devil argued that God would provide Jesus with a celestial parachute for protection, and he quoted Psalm 91:11 to back up his request. This temptation held two important attractions for Jesus: the des ire to prove His Father's promise and the desire to gain immediate popularity among the people. Jesus was being asked to create a spectacle that would overpower the nation and win its allegiance at one stroke. This was mental and spiritual temptation. What harm would there be in jumping from the temple? Had Jesus cast himself down, he would have demanded of the Father a needless miracle to prove his Sonship, and would thereby have put the love of God to an unnecessary trial. All who jeopardize themselves without any command of God or call of duty make trial of his love (McGarvey). Satan quoted Scripture, but he did not make the proper use of it. He was making God's Word say something that God did not say. The devil has a head full of Scripture but a hea rt full of sin. The devil hates the Bible, but he can use it to accomplis How did Jesusovercome this temptation? Jesus pointed to another Scripture, Deuteronomy 6:16. Jesus explained Scripture by Scripture. To get a complete understanding of the Scriptures, we must take all that the Bible says. Jesus saw the Old Testament as a unit: a passage in Psalms is qualified by a passage in Deuteronomy. It would be impossible to find a higher endorsement of the Old Testament than our Lord's clear use of it. The passage from which Jesus quoted is about Israel 's tempting God. The people were putting the Lord to the test by doubting His presence and provision. Although Israel is said to have tempted God ten times during the forty years of wandering, the one incident that is reported in detail is the one referred to here by Moses and quoted by Jesus. Jesus refused to tempt His Father. The passage quoted by the devil did not teach that God would protect His Son regardless of how reckless and careless He might be. Jesus made the proper application of the Scripture quoted by Satan by pointing out its qualification. Winning by a Compromise versus Winning by a Cross The third area of Jesus temptation was avarice, the desire to obtain possessions. John called it the lust of the eyes (1 John 2:16). Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the wor ld, and their glory; and he said to Him, All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only (Matthew 4:8 -10). What were the circumstances of this temptation? Jesus was taken to a high mountain. From this high point He was shown (in a moment of time, according to Luke) all the kingdoms of the world. Satan said that all of these kingdoms would be given to Jesus if He woul d only fall down and worship him. The devil did not own all the kingdoms of the world, but they were under his control. It is not said that Jesus saw the kingdoms of the world. It is said that He was shown the kingdoms. The devil could have simply pointed out the directions of the kingdoms and described them; it could have been visionary. This temptation is similar to the temptation of Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus saw the kingdoms of the world as Eve saw the desirability of the fruit. What harm would there be? Satan was asking Jesus to do evil so that good might come. Satan was saying, You have come to conquer the world. I will help you, if you will only worship me. Think how quickly you could conquer the world if you did not have me to fight. Jesus was

invited to achieve His spiritual goals by compromise. J. 0swald Sanders said: Jesus had indeed come to obtain all the world of glory and power, but He was to receive it His Father's way in His Father's time. And His Father's way included death on a cross the devil focused his last temptation on the possibility of an evasion of the cross by a compromise with him. How did Jesus overcome this temptation? Jesus reminded the devil that God is the object of our worship (Matthew 4:10). He again cited the Old Testa ment Scriptures, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13. Satans way to conquer the world was much different from Gods. Before Jesus could have joined forces with the devil, He would have had to compromise all of the spiritual principles upon which His kingdom was to be founded. Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom, not a carnal one. He could have gained control of the kingdoms of the world quickly through the method suggested by Satan, but such control would have been gained at the expense of truth and righteous ness. He chose to win the world by being loyal to His Fathers will and by going the way of the cross. In Jesus victory over temptation we see the humanity of Jesus clearly and unmistakably. He truly became man.

Lesson 7


Most Bible readers are aware of the tempestuous sea upon which the Gospels have been cast in the past. However, under the new quest for the historical Jesus we now have even more reason for a deeper appreciation of Scrip ture. Unfortunately, it is still true that many who follow the higher critical methodologies of biblical studies continue to underestimate the historical value of the Gospels and discount the miraculous events found in them. Let us continue with Jesus to observe His humanity and His humanitarianism. This is precisely what His early followers did. They saw His humanity and His humanitarianism; also, they eventually believed Him to be deity. Many things in the life of Jesus helped His followers to make that marvelous transition from sight to faith (Luke 24:7-8; John 2:22). Let us take note of the miracles of Jesus. They were perceived to be the stupendous work of a man. The following examples illustrate this fact. When Jesus stilled the storm on Lake Galilee , His frightened disciples were reprimanded by Jesus for their little faith. The men were amazed and asked, What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him (Matthew 8:27, NIV; emphasis added). When He enabled the mute man to speak, the crowd was amazed and said, Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel . But the Pharisees said, It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons (Matthew 9:33b -34). The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that the miracles performed by Jesus after His baptism until His death convinced the people not that He was God, but that He was an extraordinary man of God. Thirty-five different miracles performed by Jesus between His baptism and His crucifixion are recorded in the four Gospels. T here is no record that any of these miracles caused anybody to confess forthrightly that Jesus was God. In fact, Jesus miraculous power caused the Pharisees to say He was a partner of Beelzebub

worthy of death and a blasphemer (Matthew 12:14, 24; Mark 2:3 -7). However, many others did look to Jesus for help. They were aware of His reputation and power. They pleaded for healing: Have mercy on us, Son of David! (Matthew 9:27; 20:31; NIV). Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! (Matthew 15:22, NIV). People . . . begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed (Matthew 14:34 -36, NIV). Others were astounded at His power just as they were astounded at His teaching (Matthew 7:28). All the people were amazed and said to each other, What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out! (Luke 4:36, NIV). It is amazing that the accounts of so many of the miracles Jesus performed leave no recorded response of gratitude or p raise by beneficiaries or observers. Note some examples. After Jesus healed the centurions servant at Capernaum , the episode closes with the terse statement: And his servant was healed at that very hour (Matthew 8:5-13, NIV). When He cured Peter's moth er-in-law of a fever, the record simply says: . . . she got up and began to wait on him (Matthew 8:15, NIV). On the same day of this cure, He exorcised many demons from people who were brought to Him and healed all the sick who were present. Nothing foll ows except Matthew's statement that this activity fulfilled a Messianic prophecy of Isaiah (Matthew 8:16 -17). Jesus opened the eyes of a blind man who lived in Bethsaida . All that follows is Jesus' instruction to the man to go home (Mark 8:22 -26). Jesus restored the shriveled hand of a man in a synagogue on a Sabbath day. The Pharisees and teachers of the Law were so furious that they began to plot against Him (Luke 6:6 11). When Jesus healed a man in Jerusalem who had been an invalid for thirty -eight years, he went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well (John 5:1-15). What we have here is a litany of events that bring us to a startling realization. The people we have mentioned who received the healing benefits of Jesus' power offered no words of praise or thanksgiving. Neither did those who saw these miracles give any thanks or praise. Many actually became hostile and angry. What may we logically deduct from this response to the healing ministry of Jesus? These people who either saw the work of Jesus or were benefited by it believed He was a man. Would it be possible to believe we were literally in the presence of God in person without being filled with awe and reverence? Is it conceivable to receive actual healing from God in person without expressing thanks, praise, gratitude, and adoration? No! Neither would we walk away silently, betray His trust, become angry and resentful, or ascribe His work to the devil if we were certain it was God with Whom we were dealing. The miracles w e have been discussing were not proof beyond a reasonable doubt to the people who saw them performed, or benefited from them, that Jesus was God. Many beneficiaries did have a very high opinion of Jesus as a man of God, a doer of wonderful deeds. Note, ho wever, that their high estimation of Jesus often was expressed before they were healed. Examples of this may be found in their terms of address such as kurie (Lord or Sir). This was a common expression of respect (John 5:7). He was often called the Son of David (Luke 18:38-39). Jesus specifically commended some for their faith in coming to Him for healing (Luke 7:9; Mark 5:34; Matthew 15:28). In a few instances it is even recorded that the miracles observed, or the benefits received, did produce faith i n Him (John 4:53; 11:45). However, what that faith consisted of is at the heart of our inquiry. It is at this place in the investigation that we come face to face with a striking paradox. Jesus used the phrase Son of Man to speak not of His humanity but of His divinity; now, we see

Jesus performing miracles that resulted in establishing not His divinity, but a very high regard for His humanity! This explains why there were no shouts from the crowds: Jesus is God! This explains why, in many instances, t here was no reaction whatsoever. On the other hand, many people saw in Jesus' mighty works a reason for praising God. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, We have never seen anything like this! (Mark 2:12b). Many Jews believed Him to be Elijah (Mark 8:28) returned as a fulfillment of a prophecy found in Malachi 4:5. This put Jesus in the revered company of Israel 's great oral prophets, Elijah and Elisha. Others were more specific: This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee (M atthew 21:11). Apparently, some were even willing to identify Him as the Prophet like Moses (John 7:40; Deuteronomy 18:15 -19). Others were awed by Jesus miraculous power and praised God, who had given such authority to men (Matthew 9:8; 15:31). The m iraculous power of Jesus with which Nicodemus, a Sanhedrin Pharisee, was familiar, led him to say to Jesus, Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him (John 3:1-2). All of the admirations, adulation, awe, praise, and respect for Jesus noted in the preceding examples is nowhere more vividly seen than when Jesus demonstrated His power over death by bringing the widow of Nain's son back to life. The large crowd praised God. A great prophet has appeared among us, they said. God has come to help his people (Luke 7:11 -16). Since many of the Jews saw Jesus as Elijah, perhaps this spectacular revival of life reminded them of others who were called back to life b y Elijah and Elisha! This remarkably lofty view of Jesus as a man of God certainly had a legitimate base in His deeds of power. His works of ministry did not leave the impression that He was an ordinary man. On the contrary! He was addressed as Teacher, L ord (Sir), Master, Rabbi, Messiah, Son of David, King of the Jews, and even Son of God, the latter phrase also having been applied to another great king (2 Samuel 7:14). In their totality, these exalted terms from the lips of Jesus Jewish contemporaries place Him at the very pinnacle of Jewish expectations. How they yearned to crown Him king by force! (John 6:15). For many followers He was indeed the man of the hour. Even the children were echoing the sentiments of the crowd: Hosanna to the Son of David (Matthew 21:9, 15). We have looked through the eyes of Jesus' contemporaries and have seen the humanity and the humanitarianism of Jesus. We have found that the miracles He performed convinced large numbers of people that He was a great man of God in the long history of God's kings and prophets. He was seen as God's king, prophet, and Messiah. He was the one chosen by God (anointed) to lead His people to freedom and glory. His miracles were evidence that He had the power to accomplish that for which they had yearned so long. Therefore, in the next segment of our study, we will find what we expect to find. Many Worshiped Jesus In view of the high esteem in which Jesus was held by many, it is not surprising to find people worshiping Him. However, much ca ution must be exercised in evaluating this feature in the personal ministry of Jesus. When we read that many were worshiping Jesus that does not necessarily indicate their conviction that He was God. As we shall see, their worship may indicate no more than their conception of Him as an extraordinary man of God. There is a facet of worship that we need to explore in greater detail. The major

effect of Jesus miracles was the establishment of a high view of His humanity. The worship of Jesus, from the beginning of His ministry to His crucifixion, was an expression of the high honor and respect with which the people regarded Him. A verb translated worship some sixty times in the KJV of the New Testament is proskuneo. This verb has a variety of meanings such as to kiss the hand toward, to do homage, to show respect or reverence by prostration, to adore, to worship, to bow down. These acts include those directed to one individual by another or they may signify a human being's worship of Deity. In this century, Bible translators have become more cautious in translating the various forms of proskuneo. This has helped the English language reader to understand more clearly what the original language means in any given context. The following comparisons between the King James Version and the New International Version, showing how the verb proskuneo is translated, illustrate this point.

In these three examples of proskuneo we see a leper, ruler, and Canaanite woman coming to Jesus with petitions for help. We see two things as they prostrate themselves, or kneel, before Him. We see their desperation and their conviction that He can help them. We do not see any indication of their conviction that He is God. Therefore, we appreciate the NIV translators caution in using those valid meanings of proskuneo that indicate actions in a specific way. The behavior of the leper, ruler, and Canaanite woman was the usual way in Eastern culture for showing deference, respect, homage, etc. This is not to suggest that such actions were always examples of proskuneo. Once, Simon Peter fell [prosepesen] down at Jesus feet, saying, Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord! (Luke 5:8). Although the word used to describe Peter's use of proskuneo as a synonym for closely related words is seen clearly action is not proskuneo, he did show respect for and deference to Jesus. The when we examine some parallel passages in Matthew and Mark. Not e the three passages we have just examined from Matthew and compare the parallel passages from Mark. Each passage from Matthew and Mark spoke of the same person and the same incident. However, Matthew used the common term for worship ( proskuneo) while Mark used a variety of words to describe the actions, words, and attitudes of the leper, ruler, and Canaanite woman. Did Matthew disregard Mark's descriptions? Did Mark dismiss Matthew's use of proskuneo? Of course not! Matthew simply identified what these three individuals were doing; Mark described what they were doing. The synonyms show the harmony of the accounts. They are not contradictory. The examples we have in Scripture of various ones worshiping Jesus, from the time of His baptism until His crucifixion, are expressions of homage, respect, adoration, deference, etc., that one would naturally show to another person held in high esteem. Note the following examples:

Jesus taught that it was possible for one person to show deference, homage, submission, and respect to another person by use of proskuneo. This was called worship in Matthew 18:26 (KJV). The NIV called it falling on one's knees and begging. By either translation, this example from Jesus showed proskuneo being used to describe one person's actions toward another person. Worship to God was not involved. An examination of the miraculous work of Jesus has shown that this aspect of His personal ministry had the prime effect of convincing multitudes of people that He was truly a great man of God. The worshipers of Jesus were convinced of His God-assigned role as prophet, King of Israel, Master, Rabbi, Messiah, Son of God. Their worship expressed their high regard for this Great One Who had emerged in Israel . They believed He would restore them to their proper place. They could hardly have expressed a more exalted view of His humanity. There is only one time between the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus that one finds homage paid to Him by some of His chosen disciples described as proskuneo (worship). The disciples were attempting to make a crossing of stormy Lake Galilee when they saw Jesus coming near to them, walking on the water. They were terrified. They thought He was a ghost. When Jesus identified Himself, Peter wanted more assurance, saying, Lord, if it's You, tell me to come to You on the water. Jesus said, Come. Peter failed. Jesus rescued him. Mark recorded: They were completely amazed their hearts were hardened. Matthew wrote, Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God. Their hearts were hardened. They were terrified and amazed. However, the circumstances led them to worship Him, confessing He was the Son of God. In the emotion of the moment, it seems they were especially mo tivated by dawning recognition of the divine Sonship. If so, it was embryonic and halting. It was never repeated before Jesus' death. Neither did any of them proclaim His deity until after His resurrection. Jesus and Demons We close with a word about an uncomfortable, embarrassing, and awesome dimension of Jesus' ministry. It is uncomfortable because it spoke forthrightly of the demon world. It is embarrassing because it showed that demons were fully aware of Jesus power over themeven though, at the time, the human race was not aware of Jesus' omnipotence. It is awesome because it pulled the veil aside and showed us a rare peek at larger realms of reality, over which Jesus had unquestioned power and sovereignty. Demons cried out to Jesus, What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time? (Matthew 8:29). What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me! (Mark 5:7). And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss (Luke 8:31). What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come

to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God!" (Mark 1:24). The demons fully confessed Jesus' power to torture, banish, and destroy them. They also confessed that He was the Christ, the Holy One of God. This was exceptional. According to the Synoptic Gospel writers, the only time Jesus was ever called Holy during His personal ministry was by a demon. Holiness is th e chief attribute of God! The demons knew that Jesus was not only the Son of God; they knew He was the Holy One of the Most High God. What was Jesus' reaction to this other -worldly awareness? He gave them strict orders not to tell who he was (Mark 3:1 2). Be quiet! said Jesus sternly (Mark 1:25). Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, You are the Son of God! But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak because they knew he was the Christ (Luke 4:41). Jesus did not perform miracles to solicit the testimony of demons. He forbade their confessions as corroborating evidence of His uniqueness. As truly God and truly man, Jesus came to save mankindnot demons!

Lesson 8


Introduction The things that Jesus said and did in His relationships with others during His public ministry convinced great multitudes of His exalted humanity. As we turn to an examination of Jesus private life, we will accomplish two things. First, we will see further reasonswhy Jesus' contemporaries viewed Him as truly human. Second, we will consider facts that will help us to focus our perspective on Jesus' humanity. They were persuaded He was a man. Are we also persuaded or are we inadvertently or subconsciously docetic? For example: Do we think Jesus successfully resisted temptation as a man or do we think He had an advantage we do not have because He was God? Jesus Physical Aspect Jesus was as one of us! What does it mean to be human? The answer to that question ranges far and wide in this age. Therefore, we must proceed carefully. Using the Bible as our guide, we refer you to the chart Our Human Components so the parameters of our question will be before us in this study.

In modern times the advanced social sciences, especially psychology, have at last arrived at the holistic concept of personhood reflected in the Bible. The pluralistic picture of what we are as human beings is illustrated vividly by the classical Hebrew word nephesh. This word is so comprehensive that it is translated in over 150 ways in the NIV. This is in sharp contrast to the ancient dualistic view of humankind found in Greek philosophy. The comprehensive view suggested in the chart is what we are looking at when we study the lives of human beings, including the human life of Jesus. Jesus Body Jesus arrived in the world with a human body. His appearance was not startling. He had all the physical traits one would expect to find in a healthy baby boy. His birth was expected, as all births are expected, after about nine months of pregnancy. He was gladly received and nurtured. On the eighth day after His birth He was circumcised and named Jesus. His human body grew strong as the years passed. He grew in height. He matured into a well -adjusted full-grown man. At about the age of thirty, Jesus submitted His body to His relative John for baptism in the Jordan River (Luke 2:4-7, 21, 40, 51-52; 3:23; Matthew 3:13 -15). During His personal ministry, Jesus showed that His body was subject to physical influences that are common to all of us. He grew weary and thirsty. Obviously, most of Jesus' travels were on foot. On one such journey He grew tired and wanted a drink of water. It was high noon when He came to Jacob's well in the village of Sychar in Samaria . Jesus stopped to rest and waited for water. At last a woman of the village came to draw water. Since the Samaritans knew that Jews considered them unclean, she was surprised when Jesus said, Give me a drink (John 4:7). Although mentioned only in John, this incident in the life of Jesus is familiar because of the marvelous teaching Jesus shared with the woman and the Samaritans of the village. The entire episode is even more enriching as we stand with the Samaritans and hear this man, who came to them tired and thirsty, teaching in such a way that we begin to see Him as a prophet or perhaps the Messiah. It dawns upon us that even His name, Yeshua (the Hebrew word for Jesus: Savior) means something wonderful to us, just as Yehoshua (the Hebrew word for Joshua: God saves) had meant to the Hebrews in the long ago (John 4:4 -42). Two unpleasant commonalities among members of the human family are agony and

death. As members of God's family, the church, we are assured that we will have suffering to endure if we are faithful. Also, we are told that death is an appointment we will miss only if the Lord returns first (Hebrews 9:27). When we read God's Word, we find that Jesus was not exempted from these two experiences. A close reading shows that He stands at the forefront of all those who experience these two marks of humanity. Biologically speaking, His agony was so great in the Garden of Gethsemane that the sweat of His bod y was like great drops of blood falling to the ground. What anguish! (See 1 Peter 4:12 -16; Luke 22:44). Jesus' death on the cross is, of course, the great watershed of human history. This event, with the subsequent resurrection, is the decisive event upon which our ultimate destiny is based. We acknowledge the centrality of the cross by our use of B.C. and A.D. It sweeps across all eras of time, both before and after the event. Jesus' death on the cross is the starkest evidence of His humanity. After He di ed, His corpse was removed from the cross, hastily prepared for burial, and placed in a tomb (Matthew 27:50; John 19:28, 30; Luke 23:46, 50 -53). Jesus Emotions Jesus expressed emotions to which we may relate. Since we are human and He was human, this ready relationship comes as no surprise. It would only be surprising if He were not human. However, it is easy to read over these evidences of His humanity as we search for some particular teaching or example of His deity. Let us consider the following examples of the emotional expressions of Jesus as a man. We will be drawn closer to Him. His Love We note love first because it is first. True love is the highest expression of the human spirit. It shows that the human creature is a being made in the likeness of God, who is love. The deepest expression of our capacity to love places us at the pinnacle of God's created life forms. Without this capacity, we would not be fully human. On one occasion a rich man approached Jesus with some questions about eternal life. Since this was exactly what Jesus came to offer, we may readily appreciate His willingness to engage the man in conversation. The key to the entire enlightening exchange is found in the statement: And looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him" (Mark 10:21a; see also 1 John 4:8; John 11:5). During the Galilean ministry of Jesus, He selected twelve men as apostles. From that time, the teaching and training of these men were important parts of His work. It was a challenging process. He displayed an amaz ing patience with them as He nurtured, disciplined, enlightened, and rebuked them. As He drew near the end of the timetable He was following in His work, the Scriptures tell us, the ultimate reason He was able to mold the lives of eleven men so that they c ould proclaim the saving message even to the point of martyrdom. When that last eventful Passover was at hand, John wrote of Jesus: Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love (John 13:1b, NIV). What was the full extent of Jesus love? We spoke earlier of His agony in Gethsemane and His death on the cross. It was agony. It was also the foremost display of love by the One Who so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son . . . (John 3:16; emphasis added). The death of Jesus showed them the full extent of his love. Jesus death on the cross was the greatest expression of human love that the world will ever know, because it was the perfect pattern of the love of God the Father made visible for all t o see. When perfect love abounds, there is every reason for joy. Jesus spoke of love and joy together. To the chosen apostles He said, I have spoken to you, that My joy may

be in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love o ne another, just as I have loved you (John 15:9 -12); Jesus expressed love and joy in His life. He did more than that. He gave love and joy their ultimate meanings. His Compassion Compassion is one of the most endearing human qualities. It is a sign of our ability to project our humanness outside ourselves. Compassion is one of the building blocks in developing meaningful relationships. Jesus stressed the crucial role of compassion in our lives and how it says much about our service to Him. He spoke of feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, showing hospitality to strangers, providing clothes for the naked, and visiting those who are in prison. Such acts, Jesus said, would be service to Him. On the other hand, Jesus said that those who had hardened hearts would come to a bad end (Matthew 25:34 -46). A hallmark of Jesus' personal ministry was compassion. He looked upon a man with leprosy and had compassion on him. He saw a lar ge crowd containing many sick people, and He had compassion on them. He saw other crowds filled with the harassed, helpless, and wandering, and He had compassion on them. It would be difficult to imagine His ministry without compassion. Compassion is defined as spiritual consciousness of the personal tragedy of another or others and selfless tenderness directed toward it. Have you ever driven by a bedraggled person standing on the roadside holding up a crudely lettered cardboard sign that read: Will wor k for food? When we see on TV news the picture of a hysterical mother clutching the body of her bloody, lifeless child killed by the inhuman, senseless slaughter of warfare, we are moved with pity. We feel sorry for those in misery because we are huma n. Jesus had these human emotions as well, but He went further. He elevated such feelings to the highest level. He alleviated the misery and suffering of others. His humanness was spelled out in His humaneness (Mark 1:40-41; 6:34; Matthew 9:36; 14:14). His Anger Paradoxically, the compassion of Jesus is seen side by side with His anger. His anger was not directed against those who belittled, insulted, or injured Him. It targeted those whose hearts were so void of compassion that they could not tolerate His helping the handicapped when it seemed that He was violating a religious law. For example, while in a synagogue on the Sabbath, He noticed a man with a shriveled hand. Jesus told the man to stand before the audience, then asked them, in effect, if it would be acceptable to heal the man on the Sabbath. When they refused to answer, He looked at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart (Mark 3:1-6). He was angry at those whose religious conviction left no place for compassion. They were wrong. He was right. They had hard hearts. He had compassion. His Curiosity Some of the most decisive evidence for the true humanity of Jesus is seen in His show of curiosity. We reject the position that the humanity of Jesus was impersonalthat is, abstract, not personal. Those who advocate this view seem disturbed by the implied limitations in Jesus' life, such as curiosity. Surely all must agree that to be truly human is to be limited. To deprive Jesus of this trait would be to deny, or limit, His true humanity. Curiosity moves through the whole spectrum of life. What's for lunch? is a casual form of curiosity. What is the meaning of life? is a profound question. It seems that the record of Jesus' curiosity concerning what we may call insignificant de tails is a conscious effort by the writers of the Gospels to remind us that He was indeed

human. On one occasion, Jesus fed five thousand men, plus women and children. Before He fed them, He asked, How many loaves do you have? Go look! (See Mark 6:35 -38) Why did He ask this question? Did He want to impress the apostles? If so, He could have said, Go among the crowd, and you will find five loaves of bread and two fish. Bring them to Me. Was it to impress the crowd? There is no indication the crowd heard the question put to the apostles. Why did He ask the question? He was human. Why spiritualize what the writer was trying to humanize? One of the most astonishing questions from Jesus' lips was addressed to Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Lazarus had died and was buried. Jesus, Who was away from their home at Bethany at the time, was notified of Lazaruss illness before he died. Jesus remained where He was for two days. Then He told His disciples that Lazarus had died. They all returned to Bet hany . Even before Jesus arrived at her house, Martha went out to meet Him and was comforted. She then went to Mary and told her that Jesus had arrived and wanted to see her. When Jesus saw her grief and also that of the others with her, He was deeply moved. He then asked, Where have you laid him? (John 11:34). As He came to the tomb, we are told that Jesus wept (John 11:35). What compassion! What love! What empathy! What humanity! It has been said of this passage that the evangelist describes his [Jesus] sorrow in the tenderest description of his human nature to be found in all the Gospels, Jesus wept. To this we can say, Amen! Not least among the shining clues of His humanity within this precious passage, however, is the innocent and childlike query: Where have you laid him? (John 11:1 -36). Jesus exhibited that He was truly human in His body and emotions. There was nothing impersonal about the humanity of Jesus. His manhood was not a clever facade. It was as real and true as His deity.

Lesson 9


In examining the humanity of Jesus, it seems that actually we should be searching for ways in which He was like us. However, the reverse is the challenge. We should be searching for ways to emulate His life as a hu man being. It is obvious that this is a demanding task. We all realize that when we read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. A complicating factor may make our task more difficult. We may not be sure of our own humanity. For example, how do we view spirit and sou l? Jesus had spirit and soul so do we. These are constituent parts of His humanity and ours. How does the Christian who desires to be like Jesus cope with his own spirit and soul? Admittedly, the question is a difficult one. How can we appreciate more the place of spirit and soul in Jesus as a human being? His Spiritual Nature Defined First, we should think of spirit (pneuma) and soul (psuche) as nonmaterial. In that sense they are both spiritual. Therefore, both spirit and soul are of one essence, that is, spirit. Why, then, do we make the distinction? What is that distinction? Sometimes it is difficult to discern between the two because of the seemingly interchangeable use of the two words. We find that in the spirit ( pneuma) rests our immortality. Luke recorded that among

the last words of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was this prayer: Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (Acts 7:59). When Jesus was dying on the cross, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit (Luke 23:46). He was quoting Psalm 31:5, where the equivalent Hebrew word ( ruach) is found. These examples reflect both the Old Testament and the New Testament view that the spirit will return to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7b). We see, then, that one's spirit ( pneuma) is the heightened, immortal part of his being. On the other hand, there is the soul ( psuche), which is also nonmaterial. However, the soul is not the heightened nature of man. It is the seat, or channel, of the human passions that we may call natural, or animal. Jude spoke of people who place priority on the animal, or natural, part of their being. He said: These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit (v. 19). Jude called the men psuchiko, natural, men. Since psuche is not flesh, we understand that Jude and other New Testament writers used this word to indicate the immaterial nature that had surrendered to the desires and appetites of the flesh ( sarx). Since the flesh is the mortal (natural, animal) part of man, it is not sur prising that warfare rages between the immortal and mortal aspects of humankind. This is not to say that the natural part of human beings is, by its nature, evil: Flesh and spirit are incompatible only when flesh forgets to trust in the God who is Spiri t and trusts in itself (Jer. 17:5ff; 2 Chr. 32:8). Then, there is the body ( soma). Body is form. It even applies to inanimate objects. Paul spoke of seeds as having bodies; he mentioned earthly bodies such as birds and fish; he spoke of heavenly bodies l ike the sun and stars (1 Corinthians 15:36 41). This term also applies to all living things. For example, James spoke of horses' bodies (3:3). More to our concern is that soma also applies to our human bodies. Our body is the manifestation of our individu ality. It is amazing that no set of fingerprints is like another. Our bodies testify to our existence as persons. As God's creatures, we live, move, and have our being in the bodies with which we are born. Our bodies are corporeal. As such, they are not immortal. However, while here on earth, they are the instruments through which we express our being, in the sense of existing, or living. With all of this in mind, perhaps we may appreciate Paul's prayer for the Thessalonian Christians even more: Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit [pneuma] and soul [psuche] and body [soma] be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23). In other words, Paul was praying that their entire spiritual, human, and physical natures would be kept blameless before God. Body (soma) is not on the chart presented in lesson 8. That is because it is not actually there. The body is our form of being. It is the localized, individual instrument in which and through which all of the elements of the chart function in intimate relationship. In this way, we express our individual pe rsons, or personalities. His Spiritual Nature Exhibited We have been considering our humanity in the context of spirit, soul, and body in order to understand and appreciate the humanity of Jesus. His humanity involved all of these features. Now we ask, How did He show His spiritual nature as a human being? His Life of Prayer We see this aspect of His life in at least two remarkable ways. First, we will consider His prayer life. It was astounding. God the Son was the Son of God both before and

after the incarnation. Why, then, did God the Son pray to God the Father? God the Son was human too. He was as human in His humanity as He was divine in His deity! We find in the KJV and RSV that Jesus withdrew [himself] into the wilderness, and prayed (Luke 5:16). The NIV catches the frequent, or repetitive, sense of the present participles and plural noun by translating: Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. He prayed alone on a mountainside in the evening before He walked on the water to join His disciples (Matthew 14:23). He prayed by Himself in the early morning darkness at Capernaum (Mark 1:35). He was on a mountainside all night in prayer just before He chose His apostles (Luke 6:12). He was praying in private immediately before He asked His d isciples who the crowd thought He was (Luke 9:18). He went up to the Mount of Transfiguration to pray (Luke 9:28 -29). He prayed privately just before He gave a lesson on prayer to His disciples (Luke 11:1). Why was all of this recorded by the Gospel write rs? Perhaps the fact that Jesus prayed often in private is a more profound testimony of His humanity than we have ever imagined. We know, perhaps from personal experience, that human life without prayer is desolate and barren. The content of prayer will v ary greatly. Prayer is a bedrock of stability for all who would pattern their lives after the praying Christ. Human life cannot expect to survive apart from God and the practice of prayer by which we express our love and adoration, dependence, gratitude, a nd pleas. Jesus entered into prayer to His heavenly Father constantly. He is our example. When we are told the content of Jesus' prayers, we are moved to praise, rejoicing, thanksgiving, and tears. Pause to ponder the impact of Jesus' statement to Peter: I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32a). Although this is one of the unique statements in the Scriptures, it is sufficient to assure us that Jesus is interested enough in you and me to intercede for us in prayer, individually. W hat a marvelous manifestation of humanity expressing spirituality! In our prayers for others, we are placing their lives under the providence of God's grace, love, forgiveness, and strength. Jesus prayed to His Father for individuals, just as we do. Prayer is indeed a mark of true humanity expressing itself spiritually! John 17 is the most extensive recorded prayer of Jesus. It is extensive not only in length, but also in scope. He prayed for Himself, His disciples, and all those who would become believers through their message. Was He praying for all believers, as He did for Peter, that your [our] faith may not fail? (See Luke 22:31 -32). Isnt that our constant prayer for our comrades in Christ? Much more could be, should be, and will be said about the prayer life of Jesus. His prayers in Gethsemane and on the cross display His humanity more vividly than any others. His Death at Calvary His struggles in Gethsemane were spiritual struggles. It is easy to read Jesus Gethsemane experience as we might wat ch an educational program on TV. We may notice the props. We may appreciate the techniques of the presenters. We may even be influenced by their acting ability. Oh, yes, we see that there is a lesson to be learned, but we may not view it as being real. W e may see it as merely a presentation. Was Jesus, the Master Teacher, just presenting another lesson in Gethsemane ? Was He simply trying to teach us that if we will take our troubles to God He will give us relief? No! Before praying, Jesus said, My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. As He prayed, He said, My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. In anguish, He prayed so earnestly that His sweat became

like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. He also prayed, Yet not as I will but as Thou wilt (Matthew 26:36 -45; Mark 14:32-40; Luke 22:39-46). Jesus was not acting in the garden. His grief was real. Jesus was engaged in the most difficult struggle of His life, the cross excepted. He was fighting the cosmic battle of good and evil. He was not fighting impersonally, abstractly. This contest was focused on the person of Jesus, as a man, fighting against the devil! God the Father had centered His grand plan of redemption in the human Jesus. Would that plan be thwarted in Gethsemane ? Would Jesus yield to the temptation to forego the cup? Unless we exert a strenuous mental self -discipline as we review this dramatic scene, we will be diverted from the fundamental reason for Jesus' agony. Something literally was hang ing in the balance. A gigantic struggle was in progress. The humanity of Jesus did not turn into deity to give Jesus the advantage over Satan. God cannot be tempted by evil (James 1:13); human beings can. Jesus was tempted. He was human. He won the battle as a human being, the way we human beings win ours. If we win, we do so by fervent prayer to the Father, trusting in His power and willingness to sustain us (1 Corinthians 10:13). Jesus showed His true humanity in Gethsemane and on the cross. If we cherish His humanity as His Father did, we will not try to rob Him of it by insisting that He was victorious because He was God. His prayers were sincere. The Father was with Him. He answered His prayersnot by removing the cup, but by strengthening Him so that Jesus could physically carry out the will of the Father (Luke 22:43). Therefore, Jesus could say with certainty, The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:11b). Jesus won the skirmish against Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness. He won a fierce battle in Gethsemane . Paradoxically, He won His greatest victory at the cross. As He Himself taught, He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it (Matthew 10:39). Jesus was tempted to find His life in Gethsemane but He refused. Instead, He lost His life at the cross for our sakes. I beg you never to let that thought go. It is crucial for salvation. If Jesus was not truly a man, if His humanity was in some sense unreal, an appearance or a disguise, if the Figure in the Gospels was an unearthly, angelic visitant, a demigod in human shape, then the whole doctrine of redemption falls to the ground. Hold on to th e full humanity of Jesus! The Culmination of Jesus Humanity What was the culmination of Jesus' humanity? We have suggested that the two greatest examples of Jesus as fully man were His life of prayer and His death at Calvary . This is said because prayer that is worthy of the name and the seriousness with which we view death is evidence of the dependency and inadequacy of mere humanity. In prayer we seek the will of One upon Whom we depend; in death we anticipate the life in Him that transcends mortality. In the Scriptures, we hear Jesus praying and see Him dying on the cross. These experiences are convincing expressions of Jesus true humanity. He was not seizing an opportunity to teach us how to pray when He cried from the cross, My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me? (Mark 15:34). He was calling out from the depths of emotional agony and physical suffering so profound that you and I cannot comprehend it. We cannot comprehend it because we have never been there, never will be therecannot be there. We have never been the Creator Who Himself became a creature. We have never been deity Who emptied Himself of that glory to

become a man. You and I may live noble lives and die painful deaths, but we will never live sinless lives, and we will never off er ourselves as perfect sacrifices. No other will be left as Jesus was, hanging on a cross in utter loneliness and excruciating torment. Not only did Jesus live the most completely exemplary life that was ever lived (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22), but He al so died the most completely ignominious death that anyone ever died (2 Corinthians 5:21). It took the most exalted experiences of living and the most extreme experience of dying for Jesus, as a man, to accomplish His mission. He did not come to earth merely to set an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21). Neither did He come merely to teach wonderful words of life (John 6:63). John wrote, For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him (John 3:17). His mission required more than being born, living, and dying. To accomplish His mission, His birth had to be unique, His life had to be flawless, and His death had to be extremely real. In all aspects of His life on Earth, Jesus radiated a hu man nature superior to that of any other human being who ever lived. He was perfectnot because He was half-God, but because He was truly human and still lived without spot or blemish. Jesus was the single instance in all history of a man who lived not only a superior life but also a sinless life from birth through death. His Death How was this singularly pure and peaceful Jesus to accomplish His mission to save the lost? That was the crux of Gethsemane . He had willed that His Father's will be done: For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5-6a). Jesus had said, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Why sacrifice such a pure and endearing Person and why must the death be so severe, so extreme? Because of the exalted holiness of God. Because of His immutability and absolute justice. His holiness abhors sin; His justice requires that every sin be punished. There are no loopholes. God is not like an indulgent parent who waves aside the misdeeds of his children on the principle of love and tolerance. On the contrary, we are told that from of old every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense (Hebrews 2:2b); and, Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses (Hebrews 10:28). In the New Testament, we are told that it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Sin is serious; it is fatal if not forgiven. Nothing short of the total sacrifice of the impeccable Christ for our sins could have fulfilled the justice required by an absolutely holy God. Therefore, the Son of God, who willingly gave Himself completely to the will of God, His Father, paid the ransom. His body and blood (His very life) provided a sacrifice of such immeasurable worth that all the requirements of God's justice were fulfilled. This leaves the Father in complete harmony with His total Being when He forgives those who accept this gift. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13b). As Jesus was dying, He said, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing; It is finished!; Father, in to Thy hands I commit My spirit (Luke 23:34; John 19:30; Luke 23:46). It is finished!! It is perhaps impossible for the human mind to grasp fully the significance of those words. Jesus knew, however; and in spite of the horrible death pangs He suffered, He died serenely. There remained now the journey home to His Father, starting with His resurrection from a borrowed tomb. His

humanity had been extended to its limits. His very birth was glorious (Luke 2:6 -7, 1314). His life was supremely pure. Paradoxically, His death was His triumph. He had come to do the Fathers will (John 6:38), and He had done it!

Lesson 10

Jesus resurrection was His vindication---and what a resurrection! Unheard by human ears, untouched by human hands, unseen by human eyes, hardly grasped by human minds, Jesus returned to the land of the living. His post -resurrection appearances were His confirmation. In the interim between His resurrection and His ascension, He was seen by hundreds of people (1 Corinthians 15:1 -8). Many of Jesus' appearances after His resurrection were cloaked with a mantle of strangeness, from the human point of view. Note a few examples. Mary Magdalene went early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, to the site where Jesus had been buried. When she found the tomb open, she thought that His body had been removed. While she was weeping, Jesus appeared and spoke to he r. He said, Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God (read John 20:1 -18). When a group of women told the eleven apostles that Jesus had been raised, These words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them (read Luke 24:6-11). Even after Peter saw the empty tomb, he went away to his home, marveling at that which had happened (Luke 24:12b). Later that same da y, two men ate with Jesus. They did not recognize Him at first; as soon as they recognized Him, He disappeared (Luke 24:13 -31). Shortly afterward, in Jerusalem , Jesus appeared to those who had gathered with the apostles. They were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. He assured them that He was not a ghost, showing them that He was of flesh and blood, with crucifixion scars in His hands and feet (Luke 24:36 -43). A week later Jesus appeared to all of His apostles who were i n a room with locked doors. Thomas had not been present when Jesus had appeared to them earlier. He had expressed disbelief about Jesus' resurrection. He was now with them. Jesus spoke to him: Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and p ut it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God! (John 20:27-28). When Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles in Galilee and gave them the Great Commission, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful (Matthew 28: 16-17). We read in the Gospel of Luke that during the post -resurrection time Jesus appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days. With many convincing proofs He showed that He was alive, according to Acts 1:3. At last, He took them out to the Mount of Olives, near Bethany, and was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:50 -5l). Why have we said that many of these events were cloaked with a mantle of strangeness? Is it because the disciples had difficulty in accepting the resurrection of Jesus? Obviously, many did find it difficult, but this is not unexpected. After all, Jesus' resurrection was the first and only time in the history of the entire world that anyone died, was buried, and resurrected himself! It may be easy to discuss resurrection theologically, a s a doctrine; it is not so easy to conceptualize it as a literal event. Resurrection involves a netherworld dimension with which we cannot

relate on the basis of any personal experience. Was it strange that some of Jesus' followers were frightened at His a ppearance?Not at all. Consider the effect of seeing someone standing before you someone whom you had seen crucified and buried a few days before. If you fully believed the living person was the same one you had seen dead and buried, you would certainly se nse an atmosphere of other worldliness. You would know that this was a back -from-the-beyond person. You would know that something strange was happening. The unusual was swirling around the resurrection and the subsequent appearances of Jesus. The apostles demonstrated this by their varied reactions. Also, Jesus contributed to this atmosphere by His own words, actions, and appearances. After His resurrection He said, Stop clinging to Me . . . I have not yet ascended to the Father (John 20:17). Jesus said to Peter concerning John, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" (John 21:23b). His appearances were often under extraordinary circumstances. Jesus had never appeared or disappeared through closed, locked doors before. He was not easily recognized at times. Events had taken a strange turn. The earthly sojourn of Jesus was complete. What an episode! What a life! What a Savior! Have you ever considered the ingenuity of God? How could God, Who is omnipresent, drop in on the world, spend some time here, and return to an eternity in which He is always simultaneously present? How could He do this without upsetting the balance of His creation? How could He contain His unlimited power so as not to cause chaos in our galaxy and catacl ysmic upheaval on the Earth? The answer is found in Jesus Christ, because God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19a). As we consider how this glorious feat was accomplished, we note that two great transitions are apparent in the life of Christ. The first was a shift in emphasis from deity to humanity. The infant Jesus arrived amid echoes of an angelic chorus, but He was wrapped in bands of cloth and laid in a manger. He was of virgin birth, but He was thought to be the son o f Joseph. So it was all His life. Deity was manifested in fashion as a man. The incarnation was real. Paul wrote: Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippian s 2:5-8). The second transition was a shift in emphasis from humanity to deity. His humanity had veiled His deity. Amid this strangeness of transition, Thomas was at last able to see through the veil that was lifting. He spoke to Jesus, saying, My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). This was only one man's confession, you might say. This is true, but in God's revelation of Himself to humanity it was the historic, pivotal turning point in man's ability to perceive and confess the significance of that revelat ion. This transition was consummated at the ascension. Jesus did not merely disappear one day, never to be seen alive again. As He was talking to His apostles, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9). Thus the transition from emphasis on humanity to deity was complete. These two incredible transitions do not affirm, of course, that Jesus became less God and more human at His birth or that He became less human and more God at His death. We have merely analyzed the dominant manifestation apparent in each transition. What we learn is that God's redemptive work in Christ Jesus is not so

simplistic as to be self-evident. However, once grasped, its reflection of God's love, grace, and mercy moves us to surrender our own lives to Him in faith, love, gratitude, and service. Even so, the hymnic proclamation found in the Bible, sometimes called the song of the incarnation, is an appropriate theme with which to close our study of God the Son: And by common confession great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, and taken up in glory (1 Timothy 3:16). Excursus: Historical Background for Bible Study To emphasize the deity of Jesus to the neglect of His humanity would expose us to the age-old heresy of Gnosticism. Christian Gnosticism began to plague the church by the end of the first century A.D. It flourished extensively in t he following century. It is neither necessary nor possible to present a full treatise on Gnosticism in our study. Many of the teachings of the Gnostics were on a collision course with the Gospel of Christ. Therefore, Gnosticism will serve as our launching pad from which to begin a brief overview of several major historical events, religious movements, literary developments, and currents of thought that have had a bearing on Biblical study through the centuries. Gnosticism The word Gnosticism sends up a red flag. It comes from the Greek gnosis, which means knowledge. Not ordinary knowledge, mind you, but direct knowledge, which comes from illumination, or revelation, of eternal truths. Those who claimed such knowledge saw themselves as the gifted elite. Although girded by philosophic underpinnings, Gnosticism was a syncretistic system that drew on sources that varied geographically, philosophically, and religiously. For example: From Persia, Babylon, and Greece came dualism , astrology, and philosophy, respectively. Gnosticism adapted to Christianity and became a very divisive force within the church in the early second century A.D. One of their standard tenets was a belief that all matter is evil by nature and spirit is good by nature. This dogma had a direct bearing on their view of Jesus. One group within greater Gnosticism was identified as the Docetics. The term comes from the Greek dokeo, meaning to appear to be, to seem. Their dualism (evil matter versus good spirit) dictated that Jesus, as God (good spirit) could not have been in the flesh (evil matter). His humanity was only an appearance, an apparition. He seemed to be human. Although there were variations in this belief, the bottom line was essentially the same. They denied the true humanity of Jesus. Our first reaction to this ancient view of Jesus may be amazement, followed by a sigh of relief that such heresy has long since been overcome and forgotten. However, such complacency would be premature. Although the Gnostic faith did not survive the early centuries of the church, modern times have seen equally disturbing views about Jesus come to the forefront within the broader boundaries of Christendom. The Docetics arrived at an inferior view of Jesus based upon f alse presuppositions about matter; in the past few centuries many grotesque caricatures of Jesus have appeared based primarily upon false presuppositions about the Bible. Reformation The Reformation was a very complex historical movement. Among other thi ngs, it was marked by moral issues, nationalisms, economics, and resistance to political authoritarianism. In religious matters, the most important development was a break from the status quo of Roman Catholicism, as illustrated by Martin Luther's 95 theses set forth at Wittenberg in 1517. This great breach had been foreshadowed

by emerging resistance groups, such as the Waldensians, as early as the twelfth century. Most of these groups were made up of people who saw teachings in the Bible that were contrary to those of the Catholic faith. However, neither the Inquisition nor the later Counter -Reformation could stem the tide. With much bloodshed and anguish, Protestantism grew in Germany and spread to other countries like Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Gre at Britain - to name a few. During those torturous centuries the Scriptures came to the forefront as never before since the beginning of the Middle Ages. With the emergence of Scripture for the masses came also the conviction that they were sufficient for all matters pertaining to faith and life. The individual, not the church, was responsible for studying and interpreting them for salvation. This stance toward Scripture was predicated upon the conviction that the Bible, in its entirety, was the true Word of God. This, as is wellknown, was the foundational strength of the Protestant Reformation. Renaissance Of course, the great historical/religious development of which we have been speaking was not happening in a vacuum. Quite the contrary. The Western w orld was beginning to turn itself in new directions from which it would never return. By the middle of the fifteenth century the Renaissance or, from another perspective, the Revival of Learning, was well under way. That new tool of wonder, the printing pr ess, was the major vehicle that would spread new ideas, discoveries, and challenges across the world of which we speak. The Revival of Learning had a great facilitator in the printed word. The monasteries began to yield their hidden treasures. Scholars and monks fled to the West in great numbers. They brought their precious manuscripts of science, math, philosophy and religion. This flight was intense prior to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Thus old boundaries were gone and new centers of learning emerged. Humanity was moving up. Economic and commercial ventures were beginning to produce better physical conditions. Concentrations of wealth were making it possible for individuals and nations to expand their horizions. For example: Christo pher Columbus made his voyages to the New World in the second half of the fifteenth century under the patronage of Spain . Learning progressed on many fronts. Old ideas were challenged by new insights and discoveries. The Italian Galileo Galilei was a pro duct of the new age. He was proficient in Greek, Latin, logic, music, painting, physics, and astronomy. He was a staunch individualist who set the world straight by sending it around the sun with the scientific verification of the Copernican theory of our solar system. In Germany , Johann Kepler was also establishing the theory of Nicolaus Copernicus that the Earth rotated around the sun. Discovering new worlds and reorienting the old were the kinds of accomplishments that characterized the Renaissance spir it! Scientific Humanism However, our point of interest is how religious authority, doctrine, and sources were affected by this heady spirit of humanism. A clash between the principles of scientific humanism and the principles of the Protestant Reformatio n was inevitable. Scientific humanism rejected the supernatural. The Bible insisted on the historicity of revelation and miracles. Scientific humanism and religion based on biblical revelation could not be permanent bedfellows. At first the humanists conceded that revelation might be above reason but would never be contrary to it; therefore, reason must be the judge of revelation. Eventually, Rationalism declared that reason had judged revelation and found it wanting. Therefore, biblical revelation was rejected as unscientific.

Thus the pendulum had swung completely. Instead of man receiving revelation from God, any belief in God must now be reduced to man's ability to reconstruct Him by rational, scientific inquiry. This meant that the Bible itsel f must be viewed and studied as a human product. It must not be allowed to judge man without his consent; rather, man must exercise judgment on the Bible by the principles of scientific rationalism. Critical Biblical Studies This was the historical nexus for the various critical studies of Scripture. Higher biblical criticism was launched by Jean Astruc and Johanne Gottfried Eichorn in the last half of the eighteenth century with their analysis of Genesis. This was followed by Wilhelm M.L. De Wette's critical work in Deuteronomy at the beginning of the nineteenth century. He denied the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy. This type of analysis came to the forefront in critical biblical studies such as the Documentary Hypothesis of Karl Graf and Julius Wellh ausen in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is not mere coincidence that the work of Charles Darwin was a nineteenth century product. His famous work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was taken by many as a scientific confirmation of the natural origin of man. As part of the survival of the fittest, man's destiny was to rule the world as its supreme product. What the old higher criticisms did to Scripture was done to the human race by Darwin : both Scripture and human ity were cut off from God. This development was rejected by many in those days. Of course, it is still denied by many today. There is one thing that continues to haunt the basic premise of all scientific humanists. It is this: History in the twentieth cen tury proves we are not the master of our own destiny. The collage of horrors is before us. We are not getting better. The insistence on mere naturalism has caught up with us. To whom, or what, shall we turn? This question implies the basis for the shift in emphasis in New Testament liberal scholarship in the early part of the twentieth century. Once scholars had discarded the orthodox views of inspiration and revelation concerning the Bible, the conclusion was reached that the Gospels were not factual accounts of the life of Jesus, except for a few fragments here and there. They were said to be elaborate statements of faith by the devoted followers of a pious visionary. This Man called Himself the Son of Man and saw Himself as an instrument of God to usher in a new aeon of glory. Therefore, the search for the historical Jesus was doomed to failure because of a lack of evidence (since the Gospel accounts were ruled out in terms of having definitive historical value). Indeed, the historical Jesus was considered quite irrelevant! Reactions to Scientific Rationalism However, World War I struck a severe blow to the optimism and self -confidence about which we have been speaking. It was thought that perhaps something was lacking. It was decided by many that a new approach or a closer look at biblical texts might prove helpful. So, in an era of considerable disillusionment, the voices of Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and others began to be heard. With caution, and a large amount of liberal nuance, Barth pleaded for a return to the Word of God. Although to him the Bible was not the Word of God in an objective sense, it contained the Word of God for those who would peer through it and beyond. Bultmann agreed that a return to biblical studies was appropriate. However, the texts would have to be thoroughly demythologized before the kerygma could be discerned and appropriated in faith. Even though these positions were a far cry from conservative Christian faith, they at least pointed to a new interest and a new direction in Biblical studies between World

War I and World War II. Technology and Faith The human condition since World War II has remained agonizing. The Korean conflict reminded us that World War II was not the war to end all wars. The Vietnam bloodshed raised the specter of doubt as to whether peace on Earth was possible. The cold war of fifty years yielded to provincial outbreaks of conflict with their atrocities, misery, and death. This human caldron so characteristic of much of the twentieth century has been exacerbated by the bewildering advance of scientific technology in all fields of human endeavor. We are left reeling and uncertain, confused and fearful, shattered, with no solidarity, adrift, with no anchor. The feel of impending doom is heightened in the minds of many as a new millennium begins. In times like these, many people become religious for the first time. They often turn to some charismatic leader and find relief in escapism, cults, and end -of-the-world (eschatological) thinking. Others, influenced by doomsday evangelists, turn to Jesus on a spiritual high that is carried along by excess emotionalism and susta ined by showmanship and sensationalism. Fortunately, on a more insightful level, once again many Bible scholars are pointing to the historical Jesus found in a Bible that is now held in much higher regard than in the heyday of Old Liberalism. Back to the Bible The preceding observations are not intended to be lessons on church history or a survey of theology. If so, they would be inadequate. They are intended to be a reminder that it has become intellectually valid to study the Scriptures as accurate historical accounts of the life of Christ. The search is not always easy; neither is it simplistic. However, if it is done diligently, the rewards are many and wonderful. Many different methods are being utilized today by advanced students of the Scripture s who have a deep faith in the veracity of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. It can be said with confidence that we cannot legitimately be branded as naive or foolish for turning to the scriptural accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus. On the co ntrary! In the Bible we find Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life!


Bibles: Bible, American Standard Version: New Testament. Norwood , MA : Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1929. Bible, Jerusalem , Garden City, NY: Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd., and Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966. Bible, King James Version, New York : American Bible Society; Great Britain : Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1959. Bible, New American, New York : P. J. Kenedy & Sons; London : Collier-Macmillan Limited, 1970. Bible, New American Standard. Carol Stream , IL : Creation House, 1960-1971. Bible, New English with Apocrypha Study . New York : Oxford University Press, 1976. Bible, New Testament in Modern English . Trans. J. B. Phillips. New York : Macmillan Company, 1959. Bible, Revised Standard Version Oxford Annotated. New York : Oxford University Press, 1962. Bible, Revised Standard Version Westminister Study. New York , Glasgow , and Toronto : William Collins Sons & Co., Limited, 1952. References: Aland, Kurt, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren, eds. The Greek New Testament. Stuttgart , West Germany : Wuttemberg Bible Society, 1966. Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, eds. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1959. Collins, John J. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature . In The Anchor Bible Reference Library , gen. Ed. David Noel Freedman. New York : Doubleday, 1995. Delling, Gerhard. "pleroma." In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament . vol. 6. Eds. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich. Trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley , Grand Rapids : Eerdmans, 1968. Famighetti, Robert, ed. The World Almanac and Book of Facts. Mahway , NJ : Funk and Wagnalls, 1995. Goodrick, Edward W. and John R. Kohlenberger III. Eds. The NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1990. Gove, Philip Babcock, ed-in-chief. Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Springfield , MA : G. and C. Merriam, 1981. Green, Thomas Sheldon. A Greek-English Lexicon to the New Testament . 25th rev. ed. New York : Harper and Brothers, n.d. Greeven, Heinrich. "proskuneo." In The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol., 6. Ed. Gerhard Friedrich; Trans. And Ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids : MI: Eerdmans, 1968. Hadas, Moses, ed. The Complete Works of Tacitus, Trans. A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb. New York : Random House, 1942. Hallie, Philip. "Stoicism" and "Zeno of Citium." In The Encyclopedia of Philosophy . Ed. Paul Edwards. New York : Macmillan, 1967. Isaac, E. "1 (Ethiopic Apocalpyse of) Enoch." In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol. 1: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments. Ed. James H. Charlesworth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983.

Jacob, Edmond . "psuche." In The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament , vol. 9. Ed. Gerhard Friedrich. Trans. And Ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1974. Josephus, Flavius. Jewish Antiquities, 2 and 18. Trans. William Whiston, Philadelphia : The John C. Winston Company, 1954. Kelly, William. "Monarchianism." In Baker's Dictionary of Theology. Eds. Everett F. Harrison, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Carl F. H. Henry. Gra nd Rapids , Mi: Baker, 1960. Leith , John H. Ed. The Creeds of the Churches. Atlanta : John Knox Press, 1963; rev. 1973. Murphy, Roland E. The Tree of Life. In The Anchor Bible Reference Library. Gen. Ed. David Noel Freedoman. New York : Doubleday, 1990. Plantinga, C., Jr. "Trinity." In International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , rev., vol. 4. Gen. Ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1988. Pritchard, James B., ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament , 2nd ed. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1955. Roberts, Alexander and James Donaldson, eds. Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2. Arranger A. Cleveland Coxe. Peabody , MA : Hendrickson, 1994. Schaff, Philip and Henry Wace, eds. Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 14, 2nd series. Peabody , MA : Hendrickson, 1994. Unger, Merrill F. and William White, Jr., eds. Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old Testament Words. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1985. General: Albright, William Foxwell, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel . Baltimore : Johns Hopkins Press, 1956. Allen, C. Richard. The Cruciform Church , 2nd ed. Abilene , TX : Abilene Christian University Press, 1990. Black, Garth. The Holy Spirit, Abilene , TX : Biblical Research Press, 1967. Braaten, Carl E., ed. Paul Tilich: A History of Christian Thought . New York : Simon and Schuster [Touchtone], 1972. Bright, John. A History of Israel , 3rd ed. Philadelphia : Westminister, 1981. Bright, John. The Kingdom of God . Nashville : Abingdon [Parthenon], 1953. Bromiley, Geoffrey W. Historical Theology: An Introduction . Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1978. Bromiley, Geoffrey W. Fundamentals of the Faith . Ed. Carl F. H. Henry. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1969. Bruce, F. F. The Books and the Parchments. Westwood , NJ : Fleming H. Revell, 1950. Burrows, Miller, ed. The Dead Sea Scrolls of St. Mark's Monastery. vol. 1: The Isaiah Manuscript and the Habakkuk Commentary. New Haven : American Schools of Oriental Research, 1950. Calvin, John. Institute of the Christian Religion , vol. 1. Trans. Henry Beveridge. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1972. Collins, Raymond F. Introduction to the New Testament . Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983. Connick, C. Milo. Jesus: the Man, the Mission , and the Message, 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1974. Cunliffe-Jones, Hubert, ed., Benjamin Drewery, ass't. A History of Christian Doctrine. Philadelphia : Fortress, 1980. Dodd, C. H. The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospe l. Cambridge : University of

Cambridge , 1965. Durant, Will. Our Oriental Heritage. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1954. Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All It's Worth: A Guide to Understanding the Bible . Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1982. Ferguson , Everett . Backgrounds of Early Christianity. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1987. Frank, Harry Thomas. Bible Archaeology and Faith . Nashville : Abingdon, 1976. Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, vol. 1. Nashville : Abingdon, 1970. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation. San Francisco : Harper and Row, 1984. Grant, Robert M. Gnosticism and Early Christianity. New York : Oxford University Press, 1960. Green, Michael, ed. The Truth of God Incarnate. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1977. Greenlee, J. Harold. Scribes, Scrolls, and Scripture . Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1985. Guthrie, Donald. A Shorter Life of Christ. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, 1970. Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New York : New American Library of World Literature [ Mentor Book], 1959. Hammon, A. Prayer: The New Testament. Trans. Paul J. Oligny. Chicago : Franciscan Herald, 1971. Harrison, Everett F. A Short Life of Christ. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1968. Henry, Carl F. H. God, Revelation and Authority, vol. 1. Waco , TX.: Word Publishing, 1976. Ijams, E. H. The Reality of God. Nashville : Williams, 1978 Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York/London: W. W. Norton, 1978 Felleman, Hazel, selector and arranger. The Best Loved Poems of the American People. Garden City, NY. Doubleday, 1936. Ladd, G. E. A Theology of the New Testament . Grand Rapids : MI: Eerdmans, 1974. Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. New York : Macmillan, 1960. Locke, Louis G., William M. Gibson, and George Arms, eds. Introduction to Literature, 4th ed. New York : Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, Inc., 1962. Marshall, I. Howard. I Believe in the Historical Jesus. Grand Rapids , MI : 1977. Miller, H. S. General Biblical Introduction: From God to Us. Houghton , NY : WordBearer, 1956. Morris , Leon . I Believe in Revelation. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1976. Phillips, J. B. Your God Is Too Small. New York : Macmillan, 1961. Plato. The Republic. Book IV. In Great Dialogues of Plato. Trans. W. H. D. Rouse, Eds. Eric Warmington and Philip G. Rouse. New York : The New American Library of World Literature, 1962. Reston, James, Jr. Our Father Who Art in Hell. New York/Toronto: Time/Fitzhenry/Whiteside, 1981. Rhodes, Arnold B. The Mighty Acts of God. Richmond , VA : CLC, 1964. Russell, D. S. Apocalpytic: Ancient and Modern. Philadelphia : Fortress, 1979. Sanders, J. Oswald. The Incomparable Christ. Chicago : Moody, 1952. Schweitzer, Albert. The Quest of the Historical Jesus. Trans. W. Montgomery. Introduction by James M. Robertson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. Shepherd, J. W. The Christ of the Gospels. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1939. Smith, F. LaGard. When Choice Becomes God. Eugene , OR : Harvest House, 1990. Stauffer, E. Jesus and His Story. London : n.p., 1960.

Steinberg, Milton . Basic Judaism. New York : Harcourt, Brace and World, 1947. Stewart, James S. The Strong Name. Grand Rapids , MI : Baker, 1972. Strong, Augustus Hopkins. Systematic Theology. Valley Forge , PA : Judson, 1907. Thomas, J. D. The Spirit and Spirituality . Abilene , TX : Biblical Research Press, 1966. Walker, Williston, Richard A. Norris, David W. Lotz, and Robert T. Handy. A History of the Christian Church. 4th ed. New York : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1985. Warfield, Benjamin B. Miracles: Yesterday and Today, True and False . Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1954. Zahrnt, Heinz. The Question of God. New York : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1969. Commentaries: Albright, W. F. And C. S. Mann. The Anchor Bible, vol. 27: Matthew. Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971. Ash, Anthony L. "Psalms." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 10. Ed. John T. Willis, Austin , TX : Sweet, 1980. Barclay, William. The Gospel of John, vol. 2. Philadelphia : Westminister, 1955. Barrett, C. L. The Gospel according to St. John . London : SPCK, 1965. Boles, H. Leo. A Commentary on the Gospel by Luke. Nashville : Gospel Advocate, 1940, reprint, 1959. Bruce, F. F. Commentary on the Book of the Acts. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1966. Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Hebrews. Grand Rapids : MI: Eerdmans, 1964. Clarke, Adam. "Job." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 3. New York-Nashville: Abingdon, n.d. Clarke, Adam. "Joshua-Esther." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 2. New York-Nashville, Abingdon, n.d. Clarke, Adam. "Psalms." In Clarke's Commentary, vol. 3. New York-Nashville: Abingdon, n.d. Dentan, Robert C. "Malachi." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 6. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. Nashville : Abingdon, 1956. Dorris, C. E. W. A Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Nashville : Gospel Advocate, 1937. Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Anchor Bible, vol. 25A: The Gospel according to L uke. Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1985. Gealy, Fred. D. The First and Second Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus . In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 11. Gen. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick, New YorkNashville: Abingdon, 1955. Good, Edwin M. "Job." In Harper's Bible Commentary, ed. James E. Mays, San Francisco : Harper and Row, 1988. Guthrie, Donald. "John." In The New Bible Commentary, rev. eds. D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, and D. J. Wiseman. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1970. Howard, Wilbert E. "John." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 8. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. New York : Abingdon, 1952. Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, vol. 2. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Kelcy, Raymond C. Second Corinthians. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1967. Lange, John Peter. "Genesis." In Commentary on the Holy Scripture: Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical. Trans. And Ed. Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids , MI :

Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John . Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Psalms. Grand Rapids , MI : Zondervan, n.d. Lange, John Peter. "Samuel." In Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical Doctrinal and Homiletical. Trans. Philip Schaff. Grand Rapids : MI: Zondervan, n.d. Lewis, Jack P. The Gospel according to Matthew , Part 1, ed. Everett Ferguson. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1976. Mann, C. S. The Anchor Bible, vol. 27: Mark. Gen. Eds. William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1986. McGarvey, J. W. New Commentary on Acts of Apostles. Des Monies, IA: Eugene S. Smith, n.d. McGarvey, J. W. and Philip Y. Pendleton. The Fourfold Gospel. Cincinnati , OH : Standard, n.d. Morris , Leon . The Gospel according to John . In The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Ed. F. F. Bruce. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1971. Nixon, R. E. "Matthew." In The New Bible Commentary. rev. eds. D. Guthrie, J. A. Motyer, A. M. Stibbs, D. J. Wiseman. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1970. Rhodes, Arnold B. "Psalms." In The Layman's Bible Commentary, vol. 9. Ed. Balmer H. Kelly. Atlanta : John Knox Press, 1982. Roberts, J. W. Letters to Timothy. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1961. Roberts, J. W. Titus, Philemon and James. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1962. Taylor, William R., exegete, and J. R. P. Sclater, expositor. "Psalms -Proverbs." In The Interpreter's Bible , vol. 4. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. New York -Nashville: Abingdon, 1955. Tenny, Merrill C. John: The Gospel of Belief. Grand Rapids , MI : Eerdmans, 1975. Willis, John T. "First and Second Samuel." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 6. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1982. Willis, John T. "Genesis." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 2. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1979. Willis, John T. "Isaiah." In The Living Word Commentary, vol. 12. Ed. John T. Willis. Austin , TX : Sweet, 1980. Journals and Magazines: Cook, William J. "How Old Is the Universe?" U.S. News and World Report 123 (May 1996): 60-61. Ebeling, G. "The Beginning of Christian Theology." Apocalypticism: Journal for Theology and the Church 6 (1969): 58. Elmer-DeWitt, Philip. " Battle for the Soul of the Internet." Time 144 (July 1944): 5055. Hoberman, Barry, "Translating the Bible." Atlantic Monthly (February 1985): 43-58. Sheler, Jeffery L. "Spiritual American." U.S. News and World Report 121 (April 1994): 48-59. presents Part III of God's Fullness



God the Spirit completes the study of God's Fullness. Spirit is seen to be the essence of God, while the Spirit is one of the three distinct persons of Trinity. The Trinity is discussed against its early historical backgrounds, the canonized Bible, and early church struggles in formulating its nature. The personal characteristics, attributes, and relationship of the Holy Spirit are traced through the Old and New Testaments. His gifts receive special treatment from New Testament and present day perspectives.

INDEX The Essence of God The Trinity Struggle Trinitarianism From Then Till Now The Holy Spirit In The Old Testament The Holy Spirit In The New Testament The Holy Spirit and Jesus The Spirit, Jesus, and Jesus' Disciples The Holy Spirit and His Gifts "Now Concerning Spiritual Gifts" Living by the Holy Spirit Bibliography

Lesson 1


The essence of God is a subject in any discussion about the essential nature of God. This holds true whether one is talking about God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit. Whether one is speaking of God in totality or God in Personhood, one does not dismiss the fact that the one God is the subject. There are difficulties. First, the concept of God seems illusive. Ones five senses (touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing) tend to associate reality with merely material substance. Therefore, the very mention of spirit raises ambiguities. However, if God talk is to occur, one must think and speak objectively of whether one is speaking of God the Father, God the Son, or God the Spirit. The humanity of Jesus is no exception. Jesus was very human and very God. Second, one tends to discuss or explain things in terms of analogy. In analogy, there is drawn a resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike. For example, The end of the world will be like a raging inferno. However, one is on a razor-thin edge when analogic language is used to discuss God. Analogies tend to break down at best; they are often defective or misleading at worst. One should proceed very cautiously. Specifically, there is no dissimilarit y in the essence of God. God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). He is absolutely one in essence that is, spirit (pneuma). However, much to the chargin, astonishment, and disbelief of many people in the world, Biblical Christianity affirms a God Who is one in essen ce and three in Persons. If one thinks about God in terms of essence (spirit), one finds analogies may be awkward and unfitting because there is nothing dissimilar about the essence of God in the Persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. However, one may speak cautiously in analogic language when discussing the Persons of God. Why? Unlike the essence of God, which has no dissimilarity within the Persons of the Trinity, the Persons of God do have dissimilarities because of their relationships within the Godhead. For example: God the Father has always been Father; God the Son has always been Son; God the Spirit has always been Spirit. There never was, even in eternity, a time when the Father was without the Son or became the Son. Neither ha s the Son ever been without the Father or become the Father. Likewise, the Person of the eternal Holy Spirit has never been without the Father and the Son. Neither has the Person of the Holy Spirit ever been the Father or the Son. Within the Trinity there is an absolute oneness of essence (spirit). Within the Trinity there are three distinct Persons. One may speak of God as one in spirit and three in the Persons of the Holy Father, Holy Son, and Holy Spirit. Distinctiveness of Persons within the Godhead Analogies are fragile tools when used in a discussion about God. This is true for more than one reason. When one uses an analogy correctly, one draws a resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike. However, with

reference to God, figures of speech should serve to draw a distinction in some particulars between things otherwise alike. God, in His particulars, is overwhelmingly alike. This is to say that the oneness of God shapes the nature of His activity in the cosmos. Thus there is bea uty and symmetry displayed in the universe. However, this activi-ty of oneness (harmony, unity, etc.) flows from the distinct Persons in the Godhead as They work together in full synchronization. There is another reason why analogies applied to God fall short. Analogies are ordinarily drawn from personal experience for the purpose of clarifying or describing to others what is already known. For example: One may say to a friend who was not able to attend the opera, She sang the arias like a nightingale. Or often the old adage is heard: Like father, like son. These statements are clear because the metaphors involved are understood. The aria and the nightingale are familiar. One knows the father and the son. One also knows the nightingale is separate from the singer and the son is separate from the father. And that is precisely where the analogy cracks when applied to God. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit are distinct as Persons, but They are never separate. This is that for which there is n o human analogy. In human terms, analogies demand separation. In the phrase like father, like son there is a male who is a father. A male must be a son. Father and son must stand separate. However, the Trinity consists of three distinct but inseparable P ersons. What is meant by this? How can one be so sure of what lies beyond human data? One can only know about God to the extent He has revealed Himself. He has revealed Himself in creation (nature) and history (mighty acts). He is revealed in His Living Word (Jesus) and the written Word (Scripture). These sources unfold all one needs to know about God, although He has never com -pletely revealed His total Being. So how is the conclusion that there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead reached? This logical conclusion is deducted from the Scriptures (Bible). One needs to keep in mind that knowledge gained through process of legitimate deduction is neither inferior nor inadequate. For example: many jury verdicts are reached on the basis of deduc-tion from circumstantial evidence so powerful and convincing that it leaves no reasonable doubt. It seems rather obvious that distinctiveness of persons is required in those statements of Scripture where people are called by different names. For example: In the letter Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians he said, I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord (Philippians 4:2). No one would seriously insist that Euodia and Syntyche are different names for the same person! In the letter of Philemon, Paul addressed Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus (Philemon 1, 2). Did Paul greet only one person under the guise of three different names? Hardly! The same principle obviously holds true when the Persons of the Godhead are referred to by different names in the same context. Notice Pauls statement to the Christians at Corinth: Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Here are three distinct Persons called by distinct names. Each Person is filling a vital role in the great plan of redemption. The Person of God

establishes, anoints, and seals. He is doing this through the Persons of Christ and the Spirit. Note the work of the Trinity for humanity's salvation. God the Father chooses, Christ the Son sacrifices, and God the Spirit sanctifies (1 Peter 1:1 -2). Although the totality of God is involved in our salvation, each Person in the Godhead fills a vital place. In this connection there are three Persons at worknot one Person under the guise of three names. An objection is raised often in Trinitarian discussions. It goes like this: If God is spirit, why is He referred to as a Person? Particularly, how is it possible to speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit as Persons? To begin, we remember that the Scriptures refer to the Father as God (Philippians 2:11), the Son as God (John 20:28), and the Spirit as God (Acts 5:3 -4). Therefore, these terms have a direct, biblical, base. They carry correct concepts. It is certainly correct to think and speak of God as Father, Son, and Spirit. We are also correct in referring to the Father, Son, and Spirit as Persons. This is correct because it is the logical deduction derived from a study of the Bible. Another reason why we may speak of the Father, Son, and Spirit as Persons is because they are found expressing themselves in ways that identify with persons. Examples are manifold. The heavenly Father gives good gifts (James 1:17). He is concerned about our welfare (1 Peter 5:7). The Son is compassionate (Luke 7:13). He may become angry (Luke 3:5). The Spirit may be grieved (Ephesians 4:30). He may be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We identify these kinds of characteristics with ourselves. By analogy, one sees the Father and Son as Persons. However, analogies have very thin edges when drawn between God and humanity. One needs to remember the Bible teaches that we are made in God's image (Genesis 1:27), not vice versa. We read that God the Fat her and God the Son exhibit traits that are reflected in human fathers and sons, whom we call persons. We cautiously conclude that as persons made in God's image according to His likeness we testify, at least in part, to His Fatherhood and Sonship. Therefo re, by analogy, the conclusion is that the word Person is appropriate when applied to the Father and the Son. But what of the Spiritafter all, we are studying GOD THE SPIRIT. We have already stated that the one God is spirit. This is the very essence of H im known as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Since spirit is the essence of one God in three Persons who are inseparable, this means that spirit is the essence of the Trinity of Persons. There are no human analogies here. Therefore, how may one speak of the Spirit as a Person? Please note that up to this point the word spirit (pneuma) has been designated without capitalization. On the other hand, when reference has been to the Person of God the Spirit, it has been capitalized. This techniq ue is used to clarify all references to God as spirit or as the Spirit, Whose essence is spirit. One of the Persons is the Spirit, and all three Persons are one in essence (spirit; pneuma). This means there is a distinction between spirit and the Spirit. I t is the difference between spirit as the essence of the

one God and the Spirit as one of the three Persons of the Trinity. Back to the question: How may one speak of the Spirit as a Person? Analogy may be cautiously used when speaking of God the Father and God the Son as Persons. We can conceptualize those Persons with reference to fathers and sons as human beings created in God's image. Also, God the Father and God the Son often express themselves in ways that human fathers and sons express themselves. However, analogical relationships break down when one considers God the Spirit as a Person. Fathers are known as persons. Sons are known as persons. But human analogy is lacking for God the Spirit as Person. We do not call God the Spirit a Person on the ba sis of analogy, but on the basis of extension. Examples will illustrate. In the New Testament God the Spirit, God the Son, and God the Father are found together in intimate and significant ways. Paul wrote to the Galatian Christians: And because you are s ons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts crying, Abba! Father! (Galatians 4:6). In another place Paul wrote: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all (2 Corint hians 13:14). Scripture also says: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). This close proximity in strategic ways of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in t hese passages sends a strong implication that cannot be logically resisted. In the Trinity the Father and the Son are called Persons by analogy; the Spirit is called Person by extension. That is, the three are pictured on a par. Father and Son are called Persons. The Spirit, being equal in the same divine company, is the same sort of Being, or Person. Therefore, the Holy Trinity is the Person of God the Holy Father, the Person of God the Holy Son, and the Person of God the Holy Spirit, all of the essence of spirit (pneuma). Explaining the Trinity: A Frontline Battle Early Struggles Many of us, especially in the Christian sector of the Western world, are accustomed to seeing a complete Bible on our coffee table or library shelf. We open it for private reading. We use it to guide our thinking in family devotions. We tuck it under our arm and take it to Bible study and worship on Sunday. For us, the Word of God is that upon which our faith is based (Romans 10:17). The sacred Scripture is our guide, teacher, tra iner, corrector, and encourager. When followed in an obedience of faith, it equips us for salvation and a life of service for God. It has this capability because it is God's Word. He inspired it (2 Timothy 2:14, 17). We cherish the Bible. We say with the P salmist, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105). It is difficult for us to realize that the Bible, as we know it, took its shape over a long period of time. A detailed study about the Bible will be the challenge we face. However, a few remarks are needed here to help focus the present topic. The New Testament was not completed in written form until near the end of the first century A.D. The apostle John probably did all his writing in the last decade of the century. Among his last words of the Revelation letter, and thus the New Testament,

are these: I testify to everyone who hears the words of prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of this prophecy, God, shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. Although this solemn warning applies primarily to the Revelation letter, its strategic location at the end of the Bible emphasized the finality of the same theme that had been imbedded in Scripture from early times (Deuteronomy 4:1, 2; 5:32 -33; Proverbs 30:5, 6, etc.). The completion of the Holy Scriptures is one story; the canonization of the Scriptures is quite another. The long era between those two events was filled with many turbulent developments. The present focus has to do with the early struggles over the problem of the Trinity that occurred during these times. The church came into being and grew rapidl y in a very hostile world. Persecutions against the very early Christians came from Jewish sources (Acts 4:1 -23; 5:17-40; 6:8-7: 60; 8:1-3; 9:1-2, 23, 24, 29-30; 12:1-4, etc.). However, from about the middle of that first century, or certainly by Nero's ti me, Roman authorities began to realize that these Messianic ones (Christians, Acts 11:26) were distinct from those who practiced traditional Judaism. Therefore, their existence was illegal in contrast to Judaism. This brought on Roman opposition, suppres sion, and many other forms of persecution as the decades passed. In this hostile climate, vicious rumors containing drastic charges were brought against Christians. This motivated the masses to hold Christians in contempt and mistreat them verbally and physically. The populace railed against Christians for worshiping a god they called a crucified ass. They were accused of cannibalism, incest, sensuous banquets, and many other things. More reasoned pagan writers were no less contemptuous. They were quic k to point out that Christianity was a lower -class phenomenon. They said its teachers were of no esteem in society and therefore had their greatest influence among the lower class and slaves. Christians were also viewed as being atheists because they wou ld not honor Caesar as divine. They were accused of teaching absurd doctrines such as the resurrection from the dead from self -contradictory writings. The world in which early Christians lived and flourished is scarcely conceivable to most of us. The opposition, ridicule, and persecution came from every quarter. How did they respond? Two specific responses are germane for our attempt to examine the emerging Trinity dialogue. First, it is obvious from the literature of the period under study that the Christi ans responded to the hostile opposition of the masses by living exemplary lives before them. The following lengthy quotation is by an unknown author from a document believed to be from the historical period under consideration. It is titled: The Epistle to Diognetus: They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in

all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insul t with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil -doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those Who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. The second response came from Christian leaders, often referred to as patristic apologists. They answered the formal literary attacks of their pagan opponents. One of the many themes found in these sources is the Trinity. Athenagoras answer ed the charges of atheism. He wrote a treatise which dates from about 177 A.D. It is obvious from the following quotation that his refutation of the charge of atheism was built upon a trinitarian concept of God, although the word "trinity" had not yet been coined to express this concept. The treatise is titled: A Plea for the Christians . . . But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the Son being on e. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of spirit, the understanding and reason (nous kai logos) of the Father is the Son of God. But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [nous], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos [logikos ] . . . The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him . . . Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and wh o declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists?
Lesson 2


The earliest struggles of Christians up to about the middle of the second century A.D. were against the ridicule of the masses and the l iterary attacks by prominent writers of the age. This went on while there was an increasing belligerence from the state. However, as the second century moved toward a close the church found itself embroiled in another kind of struggle. The Canonized Bible Emerges The overview of Trinitarian thinking needs to be prefaced with a few observations. The first is about the Scriptures. The formation of the Scriptures into a closed

canon took a long time. Of course, the church began with a Bible in its hand, so t o speak. The Old Testament in Greek (LXX) had been circulating in the Mediterranean world from the second century B.C. These were the first Scriptures used in the preaching of the gospel and the first to which the hearers turned in their search for truth (Acts 17:2-11). The New Testament was produced within about fifty years (ca. A.D. 45-95). However, it is difficult to trace the gradual acceptance and collection of these individual scrolls (books) into larger collections. There is evidence of an awareness of New Testament Scriptures that goes beyond individual documents. In about the middle of the second century, Marcion, an infamous heretic, produced a canon consisting of about ten of Paul's letters and Marcions form of the Gospel of Luke. Near the end of the second century another canon was produced by an unknown author. It is called the Muratorian Fragment because it was discovered in the Ambrosian Library of Milan, Italy, by the Italian librarian Muratori. It was published in 1740. It includes twent y-two of the twenty-seven books we have in the New Testament. Other prominent writers compiled lists of the New Testament books during the second and third centuries that varied slightly. However, one does not find a complete list of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament until the last third of the fourth century. In A.D. 367 a bishop of Alexandria, Egypt, named Athanasius, wrote:
I have thought good to set forth clearly what books have been received by us through tradition as belonging to the Canon, and which we believe to be Divine . . . Of the New Testament these are the books [then follows the complete list ending with the Apocalypse of John]. These are the foundations of salvation, that whoso thirsteth, may be satisfied by the eloquence which i s in them. In them alone ( en toutois monois ) is set forth the doctrine of piety. Let no one add to them, nor take aught therefrom. The fact that Athanasius mentioned books that are canonized and handed down and believed to be divine implies that such a body of books already existed. Irrefutable proof of this is found in two of the great manuscripts of the Bible, which were written before Athanasius penned his list. Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus are Greek manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments. Although a few leaves are missing, they both are dated from about the middle of the fourth century. They, along with the Codex Alexandrinus of the following century, form the greatest trio of manuscripts in all history.

It is logical and safe to assume th at the church was quite aware of an accepted authoritative body of Scripture by the early fourth century A.D. The general consensus reached in the church by this time was officially acknowledged by the third Council of Carthage in North Africa in A.D. 39 7. Dissenting voices were heard from time to time about the acceptability of four or five of the New Testament books. Also, near the end of the fourth century, the significance of the Apocryphal books was attacked by Jerome when he translated the entire Bi ble from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek into Latin (Vulgate). However, it can still be said that by the end of the fourth century, the various Christian churches were coming to the point at which each recognized that twenty -seven books constituted the canon of the

New Testament, that is, a collection accepted as the authoritative norm and criterion of Christian faith and practice. The second observation before we sketch the overview of the development of Trinitarian thinking grows out of the prec eding about Scripture. The preceding sketch concerning the emerging canon of Scripture shows a period of at least two hundred years (ca. A.D. 100-300) in which there was ambiguity about the body of Scripture that could be used as the final Word from God. This was not due to the finality of the written Word; it was due to the canonization process. Today it is difficult for us to think of our Bible without knowing its limits. However, it is quite possible that several generations of Christians lived and die d without seeing a complete Bible. It is true that the Scriptures testified to their finality by the end of the first century. But how many books were to be included and, of great significance, which writings were to be excluded? It is difficult for us to grasp the mind-set of the early Christians as they struggled against opposition from the masses and notable pagan writers of their time. They had Scriptures, but there was a sort of open -ended quality about them. Therefore, it is probable that those early defenders of the faith saw Scripture as a dynamic, living communication from God that was exciting and fresh. For example: Let your mind go back to about A.D 200. Imagine the little band of Christians known to have existed in the city of Lyons, Gaul (Franc e). They possessed the Gospel of Mark, Luke -Acts, and several of Paul's epistles. While they were worshiping one Sunday morning a courier arrived from Saragossa, Spain. He brought electrifying news. The church at Saragossa had received a document that had been circulating among the scattered Jewish Christians, particularly in Italy, Asia Minor, and Judea. The authorship was debated, but there had been a growing conviction that it was a manuscript written by an inspired man of God. Many Christians thought the author was no other than the apostle Paul! Be there in the congregation that Sunday as one of the elders took the scroll, stood before the group, and read as follows: God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in m any ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1, 2). Try to conceive of hearing a biblical text read that you did not know existed before! The courier had sa id something about it being an epistle to the Hebrews, but a close study of it by the congregation at Lyons convinced them it was truly an inspired writing and worthy to be kept with their other sacred scrolls. Although the preceding example is constructed , it serves to illustrate a process by which the Christians of the early centuries received Scripture, perceived Scripture, and at last came to the conclusion that the Scriptures had been fully and finally given. When that conclusion was reached, it was de clared in various church councils such as the one at Carthage mentioned previously. Another observation is apropos. It has to do with the changing nature of the struggles of the early church that produced the methodologies used and much of the language we find when we study the Trinity problem.

Early canons such as that by Marcion the heretic no doubt intensified the need for and hastened the day of the completed canon. As this ingathering of Scriptures grew, it provided a definitive weapon to be used b y the church in articulating the Christian faith. While this scriptural base was growing, the Chris -tian community had other sources to draw from to bolster the authen -ticity of their message. Two sources were apostolic authority and creedal affirmations. The apostolic authority principle included: (1) the Scriptures written by apostles; (2) the oral teaching of the apostles; (3) the remembrance of this oral teaching in congregations that had been established by the apostles; (4) and the writings of those close colleagues of the apostles such as Mark and Luke. Many of the early creedal affirmations were apparently patterned from the Scriptures themselves. For example: Matthew closes his Gospel with Jesus' great commission statement: Go therefore and make di sciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). However, early-third-century evidence from Hippolytus shows that this had been formulated into a baptismal confession of faith. What Jesu s had given as a mandate to produce faith was now being used as a test of faith. The early Christians were equipped with texts (Scripture), oral tradition (principally passed on by those who had been in congregations established by apostles who remembered well their teachings), and creedal formulas (tests or statements of faith). This meant the early church was better equipped to withstand opposition from without and within. Internal Struggles The early church encountered difficulties in a very hostile soc iety. However, history shows that the church grew rapidly in spite of all external opposition. However, there arose serious internal strife, which, in many respects, was more difficult to resolve. There were many internal rifts, but our study seeks to exam ine the Trinitarian problem. We call it a problem because the route to the formal doctrine of the Trinity was fraught with problems. Among the attacks from without had been the charge of atheism because Christians would not bow down to Caesar or confess h im as Lord. The major response to this charge was that there is but one God. This left the opposition bewildered. The Romans accepted the state religion of Caesarism, but neither Caesar nor Roman citizens believed that he was the only god. Furthermore, they were not able to understand how Christians could make such a claim since they spoke of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. As Christian apologists began to explicate how one God could be spoken of in this way, the Romans soon found that a variety of perceptions existed among the Christian brotherhood. We need to stress here that the controversy was not primarily between pagans and Christians. It was a struggle, for the most part, among those who believed in the Trinity in one form or another . What began as a defense of monotheism to those without became a challenge to explain monotheism among those within.

As pointed out earlier, the fact of the Trinity can be deducted from the Scriptures. Indeed, this writer is convinced that the existence o f the Trinity is the only logical conclusion to which one can come from a study of the Scripture. This was certainly the overwhelming conviction of the early Christians. The difficulty lay in explaining the fact and the how of Trinity. In working with this problem, the Christian writers, scholars, and leaders had access to a growing body of Scriptures. They also utilized the language tools of their age to express their faith in the Trinity, which they deducted from Scripture. Scripture did not clarify the how. Yet the how was extremely important. Any concept of Trinity that articulated a how that was not in harmony with the that of Scripture was to be rejected. The seemingly interminable efforts to capture all the nuances of the how of the Trinity were n ot merely empty theological nit-pickings. The early church knew, as we surely must know, that one's concept of God shapes his or her religion. If monotheism was to be the affirmtion, how were they to explain the how of the Persons to themselves and the world? If Persons were to be the affirmation, why was this not polytheism, as their opponents claimed? The future of Christianity hung in the balance. If the Persons are dismissed, scriptural foundations crumble and Christianity becomes a sterile monoth eism surrounded by vagaries and myths. If the Persons are separated into individual gods, Christianity joins the barren wasteland of all polytheistic religions. Rather than seeing this struggle as an irrelevant exercise in fruitless theological speculation, one needs to see the church fighting for its very life as it searches to understand its God. In facing up to these challenges, the early Christians drew upon philosophical, legal, and theological terms of the day to clarify their positions. This was complicated because the debate included Christians from the East and from the West who spoke in Greek and Latin, respectively. The precise meaning and nuance of some terms became crucial. This struggle over the meaning of terms turned out to be such a hurdle to solving the dilemma that it proves helpful to note a few of them encountered in various contexts. By the fourth century the discussion relating to the Trinity involved many words that, though used to clarify the debate, often caused confusion and misun derstanding. Major examples are: For Greeks, hypostasis meant substance and/or person. For Greeks, prosopon meant personal reality, self -conscious agent, or an outward aspect. For Greeks, ousia meant substance. For Greeks, homoousios meant same substance. For Greeks, homoiousios meant like substance. For Latins, persona meant person, individual (originally it meant a mask of an actor, then his character). For Latins, substantia meant substance. For Latins, subsistentia meant subsistence. For Latins, essentia meant that which pertains to underlying entity, substance,

form. For Latins, essence meant substance, form, entity. It does not take much examination of these words to see why vocabularies of the Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) churches were among the reasons why harmony of views concerning the Trinity were hard to come by. Note that in Greek hypostasis meant substance" and/or person. Ousia also meant substance. In Latin persona meant person. Were all these terms synonyms? Were hypostasis and ousia equivalent to the Latin substantia, meaning substance? Were the Latin essence and substantia synonyms? If so, were they equivalent to the Greek hypostasis and ousia, if they are synonyms? Was there anything about homoousios and homoiousios that makes an iota of difference? Were the Latin substantia and subsistentia sometimes used as synonyms? The Ebb and Flow of Trinitarian Thinking This overview of Trinitarian thinking is not a detailed history of the development of trinitarianism that took place from about A.D. 150 to approximately A.D. 500. Rather, the present task is to convey some sense of the struggle, some reasons for it, and its eventual culmination in creedal form. The methods used to accomplish this are as follows: We will select some key writers on this topic, give their respective views, and sketch the response to these views by their opponents. A more extensive approach would require a study of the governmental politics involved and the personal power plays that are painfully obvious as one studies the literature of the era. Any discussion concerning the Trinity must include a study of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our first major study dealt with God the Father. The second major study dealt with Son. This study discusses God the Spirit. Since the trilogy is about God, it is necessary to bring to the forefront the inseparable Per sons of the Godhead. This is why in the previous lesson titled, The Essence of God, we studied, Explaining the Trinity: A Frontline Battle. Although this part is a study of God the Spirit, we, like the early Christians, find it necessary to discuss the relationships among the Persons of the Godhead. One early attempt to preserve the unity of Godhead was called Monarchianism. The name is derived from the word monarchy. The theory was that since there is only one kingdom, there cannot be any distinction whatsoever between the divinity of Christ and God, since only one king reigns in a kingdom. This was one of the reactions to the teachings of Gnosticism, that system of belief that saw a host of aeons in the cosmic realm that threatened the Christian conc ept of God. In the heat of this early and rather vague conflict, the Monarchianism position expanded in two more doctrines of Monarchianism. They were ultimately rejected. One form, advocated by one named Theodatus, was called Dynamic Monarchianism. It was a form of adoptionism. Though condemned, it was continued by Paul of Samosata. This doctrine saw Jesus as a man who was born of a virgin by divine decree. He was given special powers to be used in God's service. He was rewarded for his committed service by being raised from the dead and welcomed

into the Godhead. The divinity ascribed to Jesus was the result of God's power ( dynamis) bestowed upon him. This view was rejected because it required that the Son be less than the Father. It implied that the Son was not essentially of the Father. He did not exist before the incarnation. Thus his role was according to God's purpose, not by His eternal nature. Another teaching in this category was called Modalist Monarchianism. In many ways, it was opposed to Dynamic Monarchianism. The Modalists did not deny that Christ was divine. In fact, they advocated His divinity so intensely that they were tagged as Patripassionists. Their belief was dubbed Patripassionism, meaning the Father suffered in Christ, even on the cross. At the heart of this doctrine was the belief that God the Father was actually born as Jesus, died, and raised Himself from the grave! There was only one divine Person to rule over the one kingdom. Praxeas was a chief advocate of this brand of Monarchianism. He was rebutted by Tertullian, a brilliant and vigorous lawyer born in Carthage, North Africa, in about A.D. 150. Tertullian became a Christian at about the age of forty. In subsequent years he wrote many works, including one titled, Agains t Praxeas. This writing, in Latin, was very important in two of its features: First, he refuted Praxeass Monarchianism. Second, he did so by developing trinitarian concepts expressed in terms that later become useful for articulating the orthodox faith o f the Trinity in creedal form. In fact, he was the first person in the West to use the Latin term trinitas (Trinity), which, he said, indicated a Godhead of three personae (persons) of one substantia (substance). Theophilus, of the city of Antioch, had fir st used the Greek term trias (Trinity) in referring to God. Tertullian realized that lurking in the Monarchian views was the absolutely unacceptable concept of the Godhead as one in number, while the terms Father, Son, and Spirit referred to three modes o f divine activity. The underlying theme and intent of Monarchianism was to explain how one can speak of one God, while at the same time using the terms Son and Spirit. Praxeas taught that the Father and the Son were the same. He held the Son was Jesus an d the Spirit in Jesus was the Father. This position led to Tertullian's famous remark about Praxeas: He put the Paraclete (Spirit) to flight and crucified the Father. Sabellius, also a forefront leader of Modalistic Monarchianism in the third century, generally held these same views. However, he emphasized that God was Father by essence (substance) while Son and Spirit indicate aspects, or modes, of the Father's work of redemption and sanctification. In his rebuttal to these teachings, Tertullian took his oppo-nents' Greek word oikonomia (economy) and transliterated it into Latin to make a major point. He showed that oeconomia means dispensation, arrangement, and was used by Christian writers to identify God's plan of salvation. Deeply imbedde d in this arrangement or organization of an historical series of events, including kingdom or rule, was the incarnation of Christ.

Lesson 3


It seems that Tertullian held that the Modalists claim that there must be only one God, since He has only one kingdom over which He reigns, flew in the face of Scriptures that speak of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit having a special role in this economy. In addition Tertullian asserted that kingdoms of men, like that of God, may be governed by designated rulers. Thus the Father gave the Son all authority and the Spirit was sent by the Father. So, Tertullian maintained, there are three Persons in God and only one substance. In Jesus there are divinity and h umanity, which allowed two substances belonging to one Person. There was also what was known as the Arian controversy. Arius, whose beliefs sparked a furious debate, was a church leader in Baucalis, a suburb of Alexandria, Egypt. In about A.D. 318 Ariuss views were heard by Alexander, a prominent figure in the Alexandrian church. He branded them erroneous and eventually had Arius and his followers disfellowshiped. A power struggle followed. Emperor Constantine eventually called the first universal council of the church in A.D. 325. It was convened in the city of Nicea, located in Asia Minor. It was primarily the teachings of Arius that precipitated such ecclesiastical and political action. The major tenets of Arius may be discerned by examining the creed th at was hammered out at the council. The council was largely a reaction to Arius and his party. (Other actions were taken that would have serious consequences for the church in the centuries to follow, which we cannot pursue in the present inquiry.) The heart of the Nicene Creed is as follows:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only -begotten of the Father, that is, from the substance of the Father, God of G od, light of light, true God of true God, begotten, not made, of one substance ( homoousios) with the Father, through whom all things were made, both in heaven and on earth, who for us humans and for our salvation descended and became incarnate, becoming hu man, suffered and rose again on the third day, ascended to the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Spirit. But those who say that there was when He was not, and that before being begotten He was not, or that He came from that which is not, or that the Son of God is of a different substance (hypostasis) or essence (ousia), or that He is created, or mutable, these the catholic church anathematizes! First, note that the phrase catholic church as used above did not carry the connotations that it does today. Before becoming institutionalized, the word catholic

simply meant general or universal. Second, note the differences between the creedal positions and those of Arius.

This brief comparison makes us realize how d ivergent and serious the convictions of leading figures were in the early church concerning the Trinity problem, as well as the question of the nature of the relationships inherent among the Persons of the Godhead. Another striking feature of the Nicene Cr eed was its seemingly casual one-liner about the Holy Spirit: And [we believe] in the Holy Spirit. However, this brief, terse statement should not be taken as a sign of weakness of faith or lack of commitment to the Holy Spirit. On the contrary, the coun cil was not called because of controversy over the Holy Spirit. The battle lines were drawn over God the Father and the relationship between Him and the Son. However, not many years passed before the emphasis on all three Persons of the Trinity was stressed in a more balanced manner in the Constantinopolitan Creed of A.D. 381. A careful reading of this document reveals a further emphasis on the historical Jesus and a more detailed affirmation concerning the Holy Spirit. Note the sentence concerning the Holy Spirit: [We believe] in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and life giver, Who proceeds from the Father, Who is worshiped and glorified together with the Father and Son, Who spoke through the prophets. There were many historical events of a political nature and several other persons of prominence in the disputes. Other outstanding persons and their contributions to the on going dialogue are worthy of note. The defense of the Nicene Creed by Athanasius of Alexandria (d. A.D. 373) is one of the high points of theol ogical history. Augustine of Hippo must also be mentioned. He wrote fifteen books on the Trinity during A.D. 399 -419. His views were to have a great impact on trinitarian thinking from that day forward, especially in the West. Augustine's position was tha t in Christ two substances (Latin: substantia Greek; ousia) were joined in a single person (Latin: persona Greek: hypostasis). This was his way of explaining both the divine and the human natures in the one Person, Jesus. Augustine was refuting the unorthodox logos -flesh theory of Apollinaris of

Laodicea (d. A.D. 390) in Syria. For Apollinaris, the Word took the place of the spirit in Jesus, so that in Him body and soul were joined in divine reason. This was built off a tripartite view of man's nature based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23. It sounded plausible. However, Augustine's position showed that Apollinariss logos -flesh explanation deprived Jesus of His human reason, thus mutilating His humanity. In the East, contributions were made by the three great Cappadocians: Basil of Caesarea, his brother Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. Their work as a whole contributed to the unification of varying theological stances about the Trinity. It served as a stable support for Nicene -based confessions in the years ahead. In fact, Basil thoroughly affirmed and clarified the statement that described the Trinity as one ousia (substance, essence) and three hypostases (persons). In the overall study of the Holy Spirit, the following statements based on Basil's On the Holy Spirit are significant:
the Spirit cannot possibly be reckoned among creatures, for he operates what is proper to God and is reckoned with, and not below, the Father and Son the Spirit, who is glorified with the Father and the Son, is holy by nature, just as the Father is holy and the Son is holy, that he must not be separated from the Father and the Son We are to maintain that he proceeds from the Father, and in this way is of the Father without being created; for the Holy Spirit is not to be included among the created ministering spirits.

From Then till Now Unfortunately, it would be a mistake to conclude from our study thus far that the doctrine of God was settled sometime in the long ago. History shows that the case is far from closed. Many unorthodox views about God and the Trinity still persist in our time.
What did the early struggles contribute to a full understanding about God? They probed very deeply the mystery of God in Trinity. They utilized a wide range of resources, including Scripture, oral tradition from apostolic churches, and creedal statements o f faith. They developed positions using the rich building blocks of the Greek and Latin languages. And, very significantly, this was all done in the open forum of analysis, discussion, debate, and controversy. Their convictions were not reached in a close d committee.

The results were amazing. Eventually, an orthodox consensus emerged. This consensus was set in creedal forms. These creedal statements conceded that the mystery of the Godhead remained. However, they also showed that to the extent that Scripture reveals God they were in harmony with that revelation. The end results of this extensive and in -depth probe set the parameters of investigation for all time. Although mystery always looms when we attempt to lay hold on the fullness of God, we are now safeguarded from two extremes that the Nicene and Constantinopolitan creeds removed from any intelligent discussion on the subject. With reference to God, we have learned not to stress unity so much that we fall into the errors of the unipersonalist, who denies the doctrine of the Trinity, or

the errors of the trinitarian who affirms that Trinity means three separate Gods. In short, these struggles in the life of the early church produced a positive, comprehensive affirmation about God that is Biblically b ased, theologically expressed, and intelligently structured. Unfortunately, the controversy never reached full closure. For example, one finds in Augustine's theology the principle of the double procession of the Holy Spirit. This was apparently based on his interpretation of John 14:26 and John 15:26. He held that the Holy Spirit was proceeding from the Father and the Son ( Filioque). This found its way into a document known as the Athanasian Creed. It became popular in Spain and was added to the Nicene -Constantinopolitan Creed in that country near the end of the sixth century. This position was never acceptable to the Eastern church. Eventually, after centuries of long and sometimes bitter political and religious controversies, Christendom was split between East and West in A.D. 1054. The Filioque clause was said to be the chief religious reason for the division. This schism has never been healed. Approximately a millennium after the Filioque clause was added to the NiceneConstantinopolitan Creed, an i ncident occurred in the 17th century that is startling. It is included here to illustrate that old heresies die hard and sharp reactions to them have not ceased:
Bartholemew Legate, an Essexman and an Arian, was burned to death at Smithfield, March 13, 1613. King James I asked him whether he did not pray to Christ. Legate's answer was that indeed he had prayed to Christ in the days of his ignorance, but not for these last seven years; which so shocked James that he spurned at him with his foot. At the stake Legate still refused to recant, and so was burned to ashes amid a vast conflux of people.

Thus two years after the King James Version of the Bible appeared; the king could kick a man and watch him being burned for his Arian view of Christ! Indeed, ol d heresies do die hard, and sharp reactions to them are often violent. It is easy to view such things as relics of the ancient past. The horrifying example involving King James occurred almost four hundred years ago. May violent reaction to unorthodox views about the Trinity never rear its ugly head again. However, even a casual acquaintance with the modern history of religion shows that unorthodoxy concerning the Trinity is still alive and well. The Jehovah's Witnesses believe and teach that God is one not three in one. The Trinity is denied. Jesus is God's representative on earth and, after the battle of Armageddon, will reign as Christ, the King of the great Theocracy. The Christadelphians fit into this context. John Thomas came to the United States of America from England in 1844. He joined the Disciples of Christ but later left that body, advocating a return to primitive Christianity. The Brethren of Christ, or Christadelphians, were formed. They reject the Trinity. Christ is not God the Son but the Son of God. He did not preexist before the incarnation. He was born of Mary by

the Holy Spirit. Perhaps it is unfair to include the Unitarians in this brief glimpse of Christian unorthodoxy since they are not now a part of Christendom. However, Unitariani sm had its historical roots in Arianism. Therefore, it was considered heretical throughout the Middle Ages. In the early 17th century Unitarianism was associated with Socinianism, a movement that also rejected the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. In the first half of the 18th century, Unitarianism became identified with many Congregationalist churches, especially in New England. It was in 1788 that the Anglican King's Chapel removed all traces of trinitarian doctrine from its worship. The 19th century Unitarianism, influenced by leaders like Ralph Waldo Emerson, became a bastion of radicalism and humanism. Since about the mid 20th century the Unitarians have largely associated with the Universalists, who also reject the trinitarian view of God. The Assemblies of God were formed in 1914. Their first major division was over the doctrine of the Trinity. Some taught that there is only one personality in the Godhead, Jesus Christ. The term Father is only a title. This is called the Jesus Only, or Jesus Name, group. This group broke with the trinitarian Assemblies of God and is now the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, made up of several denominations. Even though the preceding survey is very brief, it is sufficient to show that the biblically based orthodox d octrine of the Trinity has not been universally accepted in Christendom at any time in history. The need to deduct this teaching from Scripture is as acute now as it has ever been. Why is the need so great? After all, so long as we are actually worshiping God, what difference does it make? Remember our underlying thesis which is this: one's view of God ultimately shapes one's religion. Therefore, if I think God is three separate Persons, my worship is polytheistic. If I think God is one Person, I divorce my self from the Bible and lose my faith -anchor for daily living. On the other hand, if I claim to have a trinitarian view of God, I must have a clear vision of what that means and be able to articulate that view to others. This vision and ability is basic to Christianity and required for true evangelism, Christian growth, and daily Christian living. A biblical perception of the Trinity is essential for understanding the Scriptures. Without this clear concept in mind, how can one understand what happens at Jesus' baptism, where the Father, Son, and Spirit are simultaneously present? (Matthew 3:16 -17). How can one possibly appreciate the agony Jesus went through for us in Gethsemane and at the cross if he or she believes that the Father and the Son are the same Person (Matthew 26:36-44; Mark 15: 33-34; Luke 23:33-46)? How can one teach others the saving Gospel without acknowledging that his or her authority to do so rests with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18 -20)? The following diagram, Th e Trinity, with it its seven explanations is audacious. One cannot sketch the fullness of the Trinity! However, this sketch is submitted with the fond hope that it will be helpful. Please study it before going further.

1. The all-inclusive triangle represents God in His fullness. 2. The three triangles whose apexes reach the apexes of the all-inclusive triangle represent God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. 3. The center of the all-inclusive triangle is intersected by the three triangles representing the Persons of the Godhead. 4. Within the three triangles, three identical features are listed: (1) in status, each is Lord; (2) in attribute, each is holy; (3) in relationship to humanity, each is life-giving. 5. The small blank triangles formed by the intersection of the three larger triangles, indicate that the work and Persons of the Trinity, although distinguished, are never separated. 6. The small triangles labeled God in Totality are within the all-inclusive triangle. These indicate that often God is spoken of in Scripture in contexts that do not emphasize a Person in the Godhead; rather, they emphasize God in His fullness. (This, of course, does not mitigate the Persons of the Trinity.) 7. Please study all Scriptures found within the all-inclusive triangle. Match numbers in diagram with these explanation numbers.

Lesson 4


Old Testament Perspectives One cannot read far in Scripture without discovering the prominence of the Hol y Spirit. The Bible begins: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters (Genesis 1:1 2). From that point, we will find the Holy Spirit consistently present in all the major divisions of Old Testament literature. Sometimes the syntax and context of a particular Scripture make it difficult to determine whether the Spirit of God or the spirit of man is intended (Psalm 106:3233). Even so, there are at least seventy-five unambiguous references to the Holy Spirit in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The first book of the Hebrew Bible mentions the Spirit and, if we look at the arrangement of the books in the Hebrew Bible, we find that the last book continues to speak of the Holy Spirit (2 Chronicles 24:20). How does this emphasis on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament compare with the prominence afforded the Spirit in the New Testament? Statistically spe aking, the Holy Spirit is mentioned approximately 250 times in the New Testament. Even if one dismisses the frequent parallelisms found in the Gospels, the New Testament refers to the Holy Spirit about 150 more times than does the Old! In this contrast lie s a truth we wish to develop in surveying the subject of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament as compared to the perspectives of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The to pneuma to hagion (the Holy Spirit) of the New Testament is the ruah elohim (Spirit of God) of the Old Testament (Mark 13:11; Exodus 35:31). This needs to be kept in mind. When one casually refers to the Hebrew Bible as the Old Testament, this is from a New Testament perspective. For the Hebrews, who never had a New Testament, the Hebrew Bible was never old. It is only through the New Testament text that one sees the fulfillment of Messianic prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth. Also, it is only through the further revelation of the New Testament that we come to the full glory, grandeur, and power of the Holy Spirit's Personhood, relationships, work, and gifts. Before the coming of the Messiah it was not revealed to the Hebrews that the Spirit of God was a Person to be distinguished from God the Father. This additional revelation is a part of the newness of the New Testament. The question is: What concept of the Spirit of God did the Hebrews have as a result of their historical experiences of God and their scriptural accounts of these experiences? Ruah may mean breath, wind, spirit. In Hebrew theological thinking this breath, or wind, was associated with the power of God. This power was manifested in many ways. First, ruah was related to God's creative power: the Spirit [wind] of God was moving over the surface of the waters" (Ge nesis 1:2). This theme is developed further in the Old Testament to show that all things of God's creation were the result

of the released energy of God's creative Spirit ( ruah) and Word (Psalm 33:6). In addition to the close relationship of God's creative Spirit and Word in the creation accounts in Genesis, there are references to the role of the wind ( ruah) in fulfilling God's Word (dabar). As the Psalmist spoke of God's created things, he said: He commanded and they were created. He spoke further of th e stormy wind, fulfilling His word (Psalm 148:5b, 8b). It seems quite clear that the ancient Hebrews did not merely see the wind as a powerful natural force. They saw the strength of the ruah (Spirit, wind, breath) as the expressed power of God: He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks on the wings of the wind; He makes the winds [spirits] His messenger . . . Thou dost send forth Thy Spirit [breath, wind], they are created; and Thou dost renew the face of the ground (Psalm 104:3b, 30). The Spirit of God was not only believed to be His creative power; the Spirit was God's life-giving power as well. The Spirit was the source of all life. As related in the Genesis account of creation, Then the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being (Genesis. 2:7). Although the breath in this text is from neshamah, not ruah, the import is the same. Breath from God is equivalent to life from God. In Job's response to Bildad the Shuhite he affirmed the veracity of his speech in typically synonymous Hebrew parallelism, For as long as life [ neshamah = breath] is in me, and the breath [ruah = spirit] of God is in my nostrils. (Job 27:3). In Elihus address to Job, he said, The Spi rit [ruah] of God has made me, and the breath [ neshamah] of the Almighty [Shaddai] gives me life (Job 33:4). The Hebrews perceived the Spirit of God to be the creative and life -giving power of God. The Spirit's cosmic work as God's creative power in the u niverse and His life-giving power in all creatures were evidences of God's presence in the world. However, specific demonstrations of the presence of God via His Spirit among His people were seen often in their leaders. Since their leaders consisted primar ily of elders, judges, prophets, priests, and kings, we are not surprised to find their credentials for leadership included their possession of the Spirit. The following examples illustrate this theme in the Old Testament. Moses was one of God's great lead ers. However, even great leaders have their times of discouragement. Leading God's people in the Sinai desert had its trying moments. The people were often ungrateful for God's provisions such as manna and angry because they were not provided for in the wa y they thought they should be. They wanted meat. Moses could not solve the problem. God could. He told Moses he needed more leaders. He instructed Moses to summon seventy of the elders to the tabernacle. There God told Moses:
. . . I will take of the spir it who is upon you, and will put [Him] upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you . . . And He took of the spirit who was upon him and placed [Him] upon the seventy elders. And it came about that when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied . . . Afterward, Moses said, Would that all the Lord's people were

prophets, that the Lord would put His spirit upon them! (Numbers 11:17b, 25b, 29b)

This historical episode verifies that Israel's elders and prophets needed the Holy Spirit to equip them for their work. This is quite clear. Note, however, the hermeneutic route leading to this truth. The KJV translators gave no indication that these verses referred to the Holy Spirit, even though those who received the Spirit prophesied. The tra nslators did not capitalize the word spirit here, although they did when they believed ruah (spirit) referred to the Holy Spirit. They also called spirit it in Numbers, chapter 11, another indication that they did not see spirit in this chapter as God's Holy Spirit. The NASB translators made an advance here. They capitalized ruah (Spirit) to indicate God's Holy Spirit. They changed the KJV (inserted) neuter pronoun it by inserting the masculine Him. They also translated the Hebrew asher (that, which, who, etc.) as who, making it agree with the inserted pronoun Him. Thus the rendering: I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them. The NIV makes another advance with the rendering: I will take of the Spirit that is on you an d put the Spirit on them (Numbers 11:17b). It seems clear that the NIV gives the clearest and most accurate translation of this passage. The translation of asher is left impersonal (that instead of who), and the Spirit, although itself an insertion, retains the impersonal view of the Spirit in harmony with the Hebrew concept of that age, instead of personalizing with the objective pronoun Him. Here the Spirit of God is understood and perceived as the expressed power of God. In this case, the power wa s associated with prophesying. One also finds the Spirit is related to the roles of priests, judges, and kings in the Old Testament. During the reign of Joash (Jehoash) in Judah (ca. 835 -796 B.C.), this king was under the protection and influence of Jehoia da, the priest, as long as Jehoiada lived. Together they collected funds and brought in craftsmen to repair the temple of God in Jerusalem. However, after Jehoiada's death, the leaders of Judah turned away from God: Then the Spirit of God came on Zecharia h the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, Thus God has said, Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you (2 Chronicles 24:20). This pronouncement cost Zechariah his life, and Joash was murdered because of this bloodshed. This example shows the role of a priest in the affairs of the kingdom as he expressed, by the power of Gods Spirit, Gods displeasure with the wickedness of a kingly rule in rebellion against His will. Most of the events recorded in the Book of Judges show a terrible time of upheaval, turmoil, internal strife, invasions, and rampant wickedness. God raised up judges to deliver the people from their various predic aments (Judges 2:16-18). Most of these judges were actually military leaders who had the formidable task of saving Gods people from themselves and others. It does not surprise us to find that these men were often empowered by Gods Spirit. It was said of Othniel: And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he judged Israel (Judges 3:10). Likewise, concerning Gideon, so the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon . . . (Judges 6:34a). Also, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah and Samson, two mighty men of strength and

courage (Judges 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14). The turbulent era of the judges was followed by monarchial rule in Israel. Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, was chosen by God to be king over His people. This choosing (anointing) was carried out by Samuel, a transitional leader between the time of the Judges and Kings (1 Samuel 9:1 -3; 10:1). After his anointing, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Saul mightily and he prophesied among a group of prophets (1 Samuel 10:9-13). However, due to Sauls disloyalty, God instructed Samuel to anoint his successor (1 Samuel 16:1). David, the son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:3-6), was chosen to be king after Saul (1 Samuel 16:12). When David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward (1 Samuel 16:13b). All of these examples from the leaders of God's people consisting of prophets, elders, priests, judges, and kings are examples of power being demonstrated with obvious results. Prophets and elders prophesied for the Lord. A priest was emboldened to stand and speak against wickedness, even at the cost of his life. The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon kings. All of these occurrences of the Spirits presence were manifested in ways that were immediately observable to others, except for David, of whom it was said: . . . the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Perhaps the writer was thinking of David's forthcoming mighty deeds, such as the killing of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:31-35). The Spirit also came upon Saul mightily. However, after his rebellion, the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him (1 Samuel 16:14). The Hebrews came to see that the Spirit of God was not merely God's power being made evident. The Spirit of God was also recognized as the presence of God among them. For example: Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? (Psalm 139:7). These sentiments expressed in typica l Hebrew poetic parallelism show the writer's conviction that God's presence and Spirit are synonymous. This verse reveals he is by no means seeking such flight. Rather he is glorying in God's omnipresence. Gods Spirit, presence, and power became virtua l synonyms in the Hebrew mind. This perception is seen in King David's agonizing cry: Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11). The synonymous parallelism of this verse means that the thought of the first line is repeated in the second line. If David were removed from God's presence, it would mean God had removed His Spirit from him. This idea was also applicable at the national level. Isaiah 63 is a good example. Homage is paid to God for His great goo dness toward the house of Israel (v. 7). He is acknowledged as their Savior and redeemer (vv. 8 -9). However, they grieved His Holy Spirit when they rebelled, Therefore, He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them (v. 10). They were m ade to remember the One Who had put His Holy Spirit in their midst, Whose very Spirit had given them rest (vv. 11, 14). A certain shift in emphasis took place in the Old Testament with reference to the Holy Spirit. Early on, one finds the Spirit perceived as the creative and life-giving

power of God. Then, the Spirit was pictured as the very presence of God. This power, or presence, enabled leaders such as judges and kings to overcome enemy forces. Among prophets, the Spirit's presence was often demonstrate d ecstatically. Then, near the end of David's life, his last words include: The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue (2 Samuel 23:2). Here David goes beyond the concept of Spirit as God's creative power, source of life, and empowerment of His leaders. Here he affirms The God of Israel said, The Rock of Israel spoke to me . . . (2 Samuel 23:3). In poetic fashion, David equates The Spirit of the Lord spoke with The God of Israel said. In this passage there is an advancement in thinking with reference to the Spirit. The Spirit had been pictured as God's creative power with God's creative word. Also, the Spirit was acknowledged to be God's life -giving power. With respect to the leaders of God's people, their reception of His Sp irit was a necessary credential for leadership. However, in David's last words he goes further in saying that the God of Israel spoke to me; thus Gods Spirit spoke by me. Now, God's king is empowered by God's Spirit to speak God's word instructively. This illustrates a shift in emphasis. Generally speaking, in early times there was often a dramatic phenomenon testifying to the presence of the Spirit, such as the ecstatic states of those prophesying (Numbers 17:25 -27; 1 Samuel 6:5-6, 10-11; 19:20-21, 23-24). Later, as a rule, the Spirit's presence was emphasized more by the content of what the Spirit said than the experience of being Spirit -possessed. The exceptions to this overall trend in Old Testament history serve to illustrate the trend without disrupting it. By the time of the later (writing) prophets, one finds the emphasis continuing to shift to a more intimate relationship between God's Spirit and Gods people. In this later period a prophet could say, But as for me, I am filled with power, wi th the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin (Micah 3:8). In addition to the power/might, we find here expression of justice and information (to declare) within the scope of the Spirit' s work. Finally, we note the grand work of the Holy Spirit in foretelling the coming and nature of the Christian age. It is the Spirit that tied the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament together as God's Word (2 Timothy 3:14 -17). It is the Spirit that projec ted the Messianic hope of Israel into a universal hope for all nations. It is the Spirit that was promised to God's people under the new, everlasting covenant. There follows a detailed study of the Personhood, characteristics, and attributes of the Holy Spirit as seen in the New Testament. It will soon be obvious why the Christian era often has been called the age of the Spirit.

Lesson 5


The Holy Spirit as a Person God the Spirit has been discussed in terms of person. This has been done in spite of the fact that there have been those who were reluctant to do so. For example: Augustine of Hippo (b. A.D. 54) hesitat ed to use persons in discussing the Godhead because he saw the distinctions in the Trinity as those of relations, that is, substantive ways in which God is eternally related. In modern times, often one finds the same hesitancy to -the term persons when discussing the Trinity. Sometimes this reluctance is for the same reason Augustine offered in the long ago. He said distinctions within the Trinity are not that of persons but of relationships. Modern day statements of this view are not hard to find. For example: Paul Tillich reminded us that Friedrich Schleiemacher held the view that the doctrine of the trinity is the fullest expression of man's relation to God. Each of the personal, you should not say persons because that means something else is a representation of a certain way in which God is related to man and the world. Such views are bolstered by the fact that technically neither the Hebrew nor the Greek of the Bible contains the term personal. We are also reminded that pneuma (Spirit) is of neuter gender, thus mitigating against a personal view of the Holy Spirit. To this is added the observation that in Scripture the Holy Spirit is often referred to in the abstract, calling into question the Personhood of the Spirit. Since we have consistently spoken of the Father, Son, and Spirit as persons, there must be some response to the preceding objections. The first thing we note concerns Augustine's position mentioned previously. Bromiley, in analyzing Augustines work on the Trinity, speaks of Augustin e's metaphysical formulation of the Trinity as:
Substantive terms, such as wisdom, apply to the Godhead and hence to each person, although they may be appropriated specifically to one. The words used to denote distinction of person are, of course, inade quate, being substantive, not relational. Since we obviously cannot call the persons relations, persons will have to do.

Although Ausustine did not personally prefer the term persons to designate the distinctions within the Godhead because, to him, this di d not adequately convey his thinking, he did use the terms because something had to be said. The fact that personal is not technically found in the original languages of Scripture does not eliminate the idea at all. There are many subjects that are Biblic al although the actual term for a particular subject may not be found in the Bible. In fact, the term Trinity is not a biblical term but who will deny it is a Biblical subject? Further, there are certain linguistic features in the Bible that will allow a translator to use the word personal, although it is not literally found in the text. The following from 2 Samuel 13:17a does not contain the Hebrew word, personal. However, it is legitimate to use the English word personal in its translation. For e xample:

Note that just as his and who of the NASB translation are not in the literal translation, so personal of the NIV translation is not in the literal rendering. However, no one would question the validity of both the NASB and NIV translations of this verse. Obviously, the word personal does not have to be in the original text for its meaning to be there! The fact that pneuma (spirit) is of neuter gender in Greek does not necessitate a sexual orientation. The obsession with sex in our age may cloud the minds of many and lead them to think that gender means only male and female. However, grammatically speaking, neuter gender is as correct as female or male gender. Every language recognizes this. For example: teknon (child) is of neuter gender in Greek. In language there are aspects of gender to be considered other than sex. This is especially significant when the subject is God. One can speak of God as eternal Father, eternal Son and eternal Spirit in terms that are not self -contradictory because, as we have said, there are aspects of gender other than sex. God did not have to beget a Son to be Father. He has always been Father. The Son did not have to be born. He has always been Son. The Spirit did not have to be created, made, or born. He has always been the Spirit. We read the words separately, out of necessity. However, we must remember that what is written separately is actually inseparable. God is one in essence, and that essence is spirit ( pneuma) (John 4:24a). When we think, speak, write, or read about the Godhead, we must take great care that we do not drape our thoughts and words about persons as if the Father, Son, and Spirit were human persons. God is not superman! We are human. God is Divine. Humility demands that we remember God made us in His image. We must not attempt to make Him in our image. There are significant similarities; however, there are also very important differences. For example: His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). Consequently, when we examine the Tr inity and the respective Persons who comprise the Trinity, we must remember that technically neither Trinity nor Person is a Biblical term. However, we can rest assured that both terms are valid when applied to God, provided we have not constructed our con cept of God on an anthropomorphic man-like model. Therefore, upon the basis of the deducted doctrine of the oneness of God in essence and the threeness of God in persons, we proceed with the Biblical view of the Holy Spirit as Person. It should not surprise us to find the Holy Spirit referred to at times as He. Examples of this are: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He [ekeinos] will teach you all things . . . (John 14:26). When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He [ekeinos] will bear witness of Me . . . (John 15:26).

There remains the objection to the Personhood of the Spirit on the basis of those abstract, or indefinite, references . Response to this objection calls for careful analysis. We are speaking of those passages that speak of the Spirit without the definite article. Note two examples: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to J oseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the] Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). Again: And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I am a virgin? And the angel answered and said to her, [The] Holy Spirit will come upon you . . . (Luke 1:34-35a). The definite article the is absent in these verses in the Greek text. This being the case, the immediate question is: "Why did the translators insert a the that is not in the original text? What is the answer? Every translator is, to a certain extent, also a commentator. Transliteration (letter -byletter exchange from one language to another) does not produce meaning. Literal word-for-word translation may lack coherence of meaning. Translation can be labeled legitimate only when th e translator conveys the original meaning into another language in words that adhere to the original language as much as that process will tolerate. This provides the parameters and the discipline for the translator. This explains the use of the article i n the preceding examples. Its use rests on the virtual certainty that the Holy Spirit is meant, not merely a Holy Spirit. Since the Spirit referred to is Holy (agion), the Spirit of God is meant. Holiness is God's supreme attribute. Also, it should be rem embered that the Greek language does not require the definite article before a noun for the noun to be definite. The absence of the definite article may merely allow an indefinite reading, not demand it. Finally, we note something that is explicit in the Gospel of Luke and strongly implied in the Gospel of Matthew. The power and presence of God are being stressed in these accounts of Jesus conception and birth: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Imm anuel which translated means God with us (Matthew 1:23). And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35b).
In these texts the Fatherhood of God is the primary emphasis, while the power by which that Fatherhood is expressed is His Holy Spirit. There is no contradiction between Mary's conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit and her offspring be ing called the Son of God.

Personal Characteristics of the Holy Spirit Introduction Since we have seen the Holy Spirit may be properly called a Person, it is not surprising to find in Scripture that the Holy Spirit has characteristics that would be difficult to explain without some kind of Personhood being involved. This, of course, is what underlies the use of personal pronouns when the Holy Spirit is under consideration. For example: . . . the Holy Spirit said, Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them (Acts 13:2b). Such language would be

meaningless if the Holy Spirit were merely an impersonal power or abstract force. We have already established that there are no human analogies to help us if we speak of the essence of the Spirit in the Godhead relationships. However, as we now turn to consider the Person of the Holy Spirit, we may utilize human analogies as we have done with the Holy Father and the Holy Son. In fact, we find that this is the chief way the New Testament presents the glorious picture of the Holy Spirit. There are many personal characteristics of this Holy Person. Personal Characteristics First, the Spirit has self -consciousness. This is characteristic of a person. The apostle Paul wrote: The Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10b). Searching is an activity to which we can relate.
I vividly remember a wonderful vacation my wife and I enjoyed not long ago. When we returned, we unpacked and put various things away. It was then that my wife blurted out, I can't find my diamond ring! I remember the search that followed. How we agonized until the ring was found! We were very conscious of the loss and were greatly relieved when the lost was found (Dr. James E. Priest). So with the Holy Spirit, but in an infinitely deeper way. This text shows us that the Holy Spirit, as a (self) conscious Person, searches the depths of God and is the Person through Whom God reveals precious treasures to us.

Second, the Spirit exists in re lationship with God the Father, God the Son, and human beings. Jesus promised His apostles that at His request His Father would send them the Spirit of truth as a Helper who would live with/in them forever (John 14:16-17). Such beautiful, intimate, and imm easurable relationships within the Trinity and between the Godhead and humanity can scarcely be grasped by mere mortals. Nontheless, we do realize that such relations could not exist between God and/or mankind if persons were not involved. Third, the Spirit has intelligence and will. We associate these attributes with a person, not with an abstraction or force. The Person of the Holy Spirit knows the very thoughts of God! (1 Corinthians 2:11b). Such intelligence cannot be surpassed. It cannot be wrong! When the Holy Spirit acts on behalf of God's people, His supreme knowledge is expressed according to His perfect will (1 Corinthians 12:11). Fourth, the Spirit may be grieved (Ephesians 4:30a). Very few attributes express personhood as significantly as grief. In our humanity as persons we weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15b). Sometimes we are distressed and have sorrow upon sorrow (Philippians 2:26-27). Jesus Himself was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3a). What causes the Godhead to be grieved? God grieved because His human creatures had become so wicked (Genesis 6:5 -6). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because His Father's own children had killed His prophets and were soon to kill His Son (Luke 13:34). The Holy Spirit can be grieved by those who crush the Spirit's fruit within them (Galatians 5:22 -23) by not living and walking by the Spirit (Gala -tians

5:25). Fifth, the Holy Spirit possesses the same love as the Father (John 3:16) and the Son (John 13:1). Agape love infinitely expresses their redemptive work on our behalf. If we can sing, Oh how I love Jesus, we may with equal fervor include the Holy Spirit. After all, He is a Person Who stirs up our love for Him (Romans 15:30)! Sixth, effective communication includes hearing what others say and responding to them. These two traits are common to humanity and enrich our relationships. How our spirits soar when we know that the Holy Spirit hears and speaks. How enhanced our lives may become when we learn that the Spirit of truth comes to share with us the life-saving Gospel of Jesus, the message preserved for us in Gods Spirit -filled Word (John 16:13). Seventh, it is possible for us to hear the Spirits teaching and calling in the Word and respond in faith. It is also possible to remain aloof from that message. If we do refuse to surrender to His gracious overture, we have grieved the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) by resisting His invitation (Acts 7:51). This precludes any possibility of living a spiritual life. This truly grieves the Spirit. Perhaps it is even more grievous for one of the Spirits own companions (a Christian) to sever the intimacy of that relationship by being untrue to the very principles of true friendship. Ananias, with the knowledge of Sapphir a, his wife, came before the apostles with a sum of money he and Sapphira had received from the sale of some property. How generous they appeared! Yet, ironically, how self -seeking they were! They kept back part of the money but pretended they had given al l. What evil deceptions our ego can commit! They succumbed to pride and lied to Deity the Holy Spirit. It cost them their lives (Acts 5:1-9). May we never fall into the grievous error of thinking of the Holy Spirit as merely a sweet and benevolent influenc e. The Holy Spirit is a Person Who wants to be our companion and Helper (John 16:7). He deserves and requires all the homage of Deity because He is one of the Persons of the Godhead (Isaiah 6:8 -9; Acts 28:2528). We should be extremely careful in speaking of the Holy Spirit as the third person of the Godhead. This can be done, since we cannot speak of all three Persons at once. However, this traditional practice may lead to erroneous thinking about the Trinity. For example: We may think that since the Fat her sends the Son (John 10:36a) and the Son sends the Spirit (John 16:7b) and the Spirit does not speak at His own initiative (John 16:13), the Spirit is inferior that is, number three in rank. If so, we are engaged in erroneous thinking of a very serious nature. We are mixing the principle of subordination with the superiority/inferiority complex. Heres an illustration. Suppose a couple have friends over for dinner. As everyone gathers at the table they introduce their children to the guests in one, two, three order. Do the guests understand them to be saying that the third child to be introduced is inferior to the first two? "Ridiculous," you say. We agree. Paul said, But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and

the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:3). Paul spoke of two categories of beings, divine and human. In the divine category, God the Son is subordinate to God the Father; in the human category, woman is subordinate to man. If, in this text, we think of the relationship of the divine to the human, we realize that the created (humanity) is inferior to the Creator (God). However, if we think of the relationships within each category, we realize that God the Father is not superior or i nferior to God the Son. They are both God! Nothing can be greater in the divine realm. Likewise, if we are thinking of the relationships within the human category, we realize that the man is not superior or inferior to the woman. They are both human! Nothing is greater in the fleshly created order. In Scripture we have in the one God an equality of three Persons. We also find that God the Son is subordinate to God the Father (John 17:4) and God the Spirit is subordinate to both the Father and the Son. He is sent/proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 15:26). Therefore, subordination does not imply inequality in the Godhead; rather, it shows the beautiful harmony of God's will being enacted by the Trinity in history for the redemption of humanity. Attributes of the Holy Spirit This study has probed the Trinity, the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and various pictures of the Spirit in the New Testament. The inquiry now turns to the majestic and glorious attributes of the Holy Spirit as God. First, the Holy Spirit is eternal; He did not come along later. He was not created. He was not born. He is not inferior to the Father or the Son. He is not referred to as the third person of the Godhead because He does not rate first or second place. He is co-equal with the Father and the Son and has existed as long as they have forever! All three interact in the great work of redemption. For example: how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14). Second, the Holy Spirit is omnipotent. It is scarcely possible to stress the power of the Spirit sufficiently. When one says omnipotence, one says all -power. Without looking back to the comments on the Spirit's power displayed in the Old Testament, we can quickly see the Spirit's power demonstrated in prominent ways in the New Testament. The Spirit's power was vital to the ministry of Jesus: And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit . . . (Luke 4:14a). If we realize the ministry of Jesus is essential for our salvation, we must also realize how important the power of the Holy Spirit is for our salvation. If we realize how powerful the gospel of Christ is for our salvation (Romans 1:16-17), we also need to remember the Gospel was delivered to us in the power of the Spirit. The apostle Paul said: . . . in the power of the Spirit . . . I have fully preached the gospel (Romans 15:19). In order to be fully assur ed about the efficacy of the Gospel for our salvation, we must be convinced that the Holy Spirit acted in an all -powerful way to bring about the Gospels intended results. Third, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent. He does not come in a flood of emotion only t o recede when the tide goes out. He is constant. He is present in every place at all

times. He is omnipresent because He is God. David was aware of this. He said: Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me (Psalm 51:11). He also said: Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? (Psalm 139:7). In the typical synonymous parallelism of Hebrew poetry, David states that one cannot go from God's Spirit or flee from His presence. This is a keen and exalted insight. However, one must wait for further revelation of God in the Christian era to realize the Holy Spirit is more than the unsurpassed expressed power of God. Progressive revelation within Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is indeed one of the three Persons of the one Deity Godhead (tes theotetos) (Colossians 2:9). Fourth, the Holy Spirit is omniscient. This attribute is corollary to the other three. How encouraging it is to know that the Holy Spirit is eternal, all -powerful, ever-present, and all-knowing! We may have difficulties others do not know about. The Spirit knows. We may be barraged with temptation hidden from others. The Spirit knows. We may be yearning desperately to serve the Lord in productive, meaningful ways. The Spirit knows. There are no secret yearnings, misgivings, aches, trepidations, or faintings of the human heart of which the Holy Spirit is not completely aware. He is in complete and indescribable unity with the Father. This assures us there is a knowledgeable Frien d and Helper Who shares with us the unfathomable riches of the Fathers love, grace, and mercy (1 Corinthians 2:10 -13). This passage is a sublime scriptural portrait of our God, Who cares for us and bares His very heart to us by revelation of the Spirit. We are almost ready to turn our attention specifically to the relationships, work, and gifts of God the Spirit. We will see how He, with the Father and the Son, engages with us for our redemption and eventual glorification. First, however, there is an issue we must address. The Person of the Holy Spirit Cannot Be Parceled The one essence of God is spirit. The three Persons of the Trinity are distinctive and inseparable. There is a distinction between spirit as the essence of the Trinity and the Spirit as the Person of the Holy Spirit. The equality of the three Persons of the Trinity was derived from Scripture and set in creedal form based on scriptural insights. The Holy Spirit is seen as a Person with characteristics we can relate to a person by human analogy. We now note that the Person of the Holy Spirit cannot be parceled. For one to remain a complete person, one must retain all parts. This principle includes the Person of the Holy Spirit; and we shall see from the Scripture a grasp of this principle helps us to understand and appreciate the relationships, work, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Ironically, we begin with a difficult verse: For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). In 1611 the KJV ended the verse with the phrase unto him in italics. The translators put these words in italics to indicate that they were not in the original text but are needed to convey the correct meaning in English. By the time of the ASV of 1901, the translators had a great advantage over the KJV scholars because textual discoveries like the

Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Alexandrinus manuscripts provided a much clearer scriptural base than the sixteenth and seventeenth century Textus Receptus available to the KJV translation committees. Therefore, the ASV, and later translators (RSV, NASB, NIV, etc.), dropped the phrase unto him. It no longer rates even a footnote in standard Greek New Testament texts, such as the twenty -fifth edition of the Nestle -Aland text and the 1966 edition of the United Bible Society Greek text. To put it plainly, the words unto him were never in the authentic Greek text and are not needed to convey the meaning of the verse. The second difficulty is found in the last half of the sentence: God [ho theos] gives not the Spirit by measure (John 3:34b) is from the Textus Receptus, mentioned previously. Since the KJV translators were using the TR, or at least Stephens's rendition of 1550, they included the word God in their translation. However, by the nineteeth century prominent textual scholars such as Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Alford were either dropping ho theos (God) or growing doubtful of its authenticity. It was becoming clear that the Greek textual base to support ho theos was cr umbling under the weight of more reliable manuscripts. By the time of the twentieth century translation of the ASV (1901), the wording had become: . . . he giveth not the Spirit by measure. The NIV chose to use the noun ho theos (God) but conceded the Greek is he. These examples illustrate the accuracy of Dodd's observation: . . . it is difficult perhaps impossible to decide whether the subject of the verb is God or Christ. Therefore, John 3:34b may be legitimately translated in at least two ways, dep ending on the judgment call of the translators. These two ways are as follows: one: . . . for He [God] gives the Spirit without measure [to Christ]; and two: . . . for He [Christ] gives the Spirit without measure [to believers]. At last we have the verse fully before us. This verse contains a basic, foundational truth that must be remembered in any study about the Holy Spirit. Its turbulent textual history and its present translation ambiguity do not affect the impact of the truth of which we now speak. The fate of the unto him phrase has been settled. The choice of the two alternatives, which a knowledge of Greek cannot solve, does not alter at all the fundamental truth that we find in this passage. That truth is this: If God is the subject in the last part of the sentence, He does not give a portion, measure ( metron), parcel of the Holy Spirit to Christ. If Christ is the subject of the last part of the sentence, He does not give a portion, measure (metron), parcel of the Holy Spirit to others. Neither God the Father nor God the Son gives ( didosin) the Holy Spirit by measure. This conclusion is what we should expect. Since the Holy Spirit is a Person, we cannot expect that Person to be shared in part or parceled to Christ or to us. We have ample reason to rejoice in knowing that when we do receive the Holy Spirit we have been granted the companionship of a Person of the Godhead God, the Spirit! We have not been given a share, portion, measure, or parcel of the Holy Spirit. If we have received the Holy Spirit as a gift, we have, by Gods grace, been given the Person of the Holy Spirit as a true friend who seeks to comfort and help us along the

Christian way of life. Another reason the Scripture under consideration is so central to our understanding of the Holy Spirit's relationships, work, and gifts is that this is the only place in the New Testament where anything is said about giving the Holy Spirit ek metrou by measure, or with definite limitation. The passage says the Holy Spirit is not given by measure, or with limitation. Shouldnt this verse about the Holy Spirit be as emphatic for us as James 2:24 is about faith? Each passage is an example of hapax legomenon (something said only once). If taken at face value, both statements would change the l ives of countless numbers of people, including Christians. Indeed, God the Spirit cannot be parceled!

Lesson 6


When one studies the redemptive work of Jesus, one finds that He has a constant companion, the Person of the Holy Spirit. This should not be surprising since both God the Son and God the Spirit are as interested in the salvation of humanity as God the Father. All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in the marvelous plan of redemption. Each has a cooperative rol e that He appropriates and fulfills while in an inseparable relationship with the Trinity. It should be noted at the beginning of our present investigation that all the attempts we make are scripturally based. This is a way of paying tribute and honor to t he Holy Spirit. We acknowledge a point of beginning as did the apostle Peter when he wrote: But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of ones own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20 -21). This passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit guided the prophets in their speaking and in their writing. Moreover, the Holy Spirit's work with the Word extends far beyond the prophetic utterances. Indeed, all Scripture is inspired [ theopneustos = God-breathed] by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, being convinced that the entire Bible (all Scripture) is the product of the Holy Spirit, we can safely say that the Holy Spirit speaks to us today. From of old the coming of a Savior was expected because this pronouncement was repeatedly made by the Holy Spirit through God's prophets. It was the Spirit that pinpointed the Messianic hope as resting on Jesus of Nazareth. Note the relationship of the Spirit with Jesus during Jesus time on Earth in the flesh. It was the Spirit Who begot the holy child Jes us in the womb of the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35). This was an absolutely unique event in the annals of history. It transcended all human experience and can be accounted for only on the basis of a one-time miraculous act of God. If one can believ e a miracle ever

happened, then one can believe that which was conceived in Mary was of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is brief and clear about how Jesus made His entrance in human history. In the relationship of the Holy Spirit to Jesus we find the Spirit was the one Who authenticated the pronouncement of the Father that Jesus was indeed God's Son (John 1:29-34). This is important. As we contemplate this scene of Jesus' baptism, we realize how rare it is to find the Father, Son, and Spirit historically manifes ted together at a particular point and time. The Trinity converged at Jesus baptism. This showed the involvement of the Godhead in the plan for mankind's eternal salvation. Jesus began His ministry on earth with baptism, fully acclaimed and identified by the Father and the Spirit. As John the Baptist prepared for the baptism, Jesus said, . . . in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15b). As the baptism was completed, . . . the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him; and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:16b-17). The Holy Spirit did not recede into the heavens as the sound of the Father's voice faded away: Indeed not! The Spirit was not merely an authenticating agent of God the Father. The Spirit was to remain with Jesus without measure, fully, personally, as a constant companion. However, the Scripture says that Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). Dr. James E. Priest wrote:
When I heard this text read in the worship assembly as a child, I always wondered whose side the Spirit was on. Is that the way to treat a Friend? Through the maturin g process, I have come to see something happening in the life of Jesus of which we should all be aware. After about thirty years, Jesus took His public step into His personal ministry. His baptism became His launching pad, so to speak. In that decisive act He publicly committed Himself to fulfilling all the righteousness of God and in turn was publicly ackno wledged as Son of the Father and presented with the presence of the Spirit.

The inevitable happened. Jesus became vulnerable to Satan, who saw Him as his most formidable public enemy. In full commitment to the will of His Father and in full possession of the Spirit, Jesus separated Himself from the furor of the world to face His arch enemy head-on in the desert of loneliness. The fight was not a standoff. Jesus won hands-down. He resisted every type of temptation that Satan brought to bear. And what kinds of temptations were these? Note:
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If any one loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of l ife, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17). From Matthew 4:1-11 one concludes that Jesus resisted the lust of the flesh (vv. 3-4), the pride of life (vv. 5 -7), and the lust of the eye (vv. 8 -10), as He was led about by the Spirit

in the wilderness for forty days, while tempted by the devil (Luke 4:1b -2).

The Spirit did not lead Jesus into the wilderness in order to be tem pted. Jesus was being led by the Spirit in His commitment to the redemptive work of God. This commitment inevitably requires a separation from "the world." This was a commitment that always leads to temptation. Jesus did not enter into and lead a sacrificial life in order to be tempted! Rather, His personal choice to live that life of service to mankind resulted in His being tempted. This is the drama of the wilderness temptations. The application is clear. The key to victory is available. Jesus returned [from these temptations] to Galilee in the power of the Spirit . . . (Luke 4:14a). The Spirit and the Word were together with God in creation. The New Testament makes the astounding announcement that the Word was God. Jesus was the living Word (John 1:14). He came out of the wilderness after the temptations full of the Spirit and in His power. He went to worship at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. When He stood up to read the Holy Scriptures, He read from the great Messianic prophet Isaiah as follows: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Luke 4:18-19). To the amazement of the worshipers, He said, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:21). In this memorable example we see the inspired (God -breathed) written Word made audible by the Spirit -filled Living Word! The crucial role of the Holy Spirit cannot escape our attention. When we follow the life, preaching, and teaching ministry of Jesus, we realize that the Holy Spirit's relation to the Word, both written and living, is a matter of life and death for us. Through the written Word we learn of Jesus. Through Jesus and His teachings we see the supreme revelation of God the Father. From God comes every perfect gift (James 1:17), including eternal life (Romans 6:23). Consider the significance of Jesus' statement: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life (John 6:63). The wonderful words of life Jesus shared in His teaching and preaching serve as a channel for the life -giving power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The healing ministry of Jesus was one of the most outstanding features of His earthly sojourn. That marvelous work also was done by the power of the Holy Spirit. Many of those miracles were recorded to help us believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and have life in His name (John 20:30 -31). On one occasion Jesus was pushing through the throng on His way to the home of a synagogue ruler named Jarius to answer his request to heal his daughter. A woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years made her way through the crowd and touched Jesus garment, believing that by doing so she would be healed. She was healed because power proceeded from Jesus to affect this miracle (Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:40-48). At other times, Jesus healed many people from the multitudes by the power of the Lord that was in Him (Luke 5:17; 6:17 -19).

Also, those troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. One may doubt that this power of Jesus to heal people and to cleanse them of un clean spirits was the power of His companion, the Holy Spirit. The scenario we now examine should remove that doubt. Jesus healed a demon-possessed man. The Pharisees claimed He did it not by the power of God, but by the power of Bee1zebul, the prince of d emons. Jesus rebutted: And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand? And if I by Bee1zebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? Consequently they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demo ns by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you (Matthew 12:26 -28). This scene is a snapshot of the cosmic struggle between Satan and God. Just as a photo does not show the entire context of a picture, so this confrontation implies more than it shows. It reflects a provincial skirmish in the cosmic warfare. The war is between God and Satan, light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, angels and demons, righteousness and sin. The unleashed powers break out of the boundaries of earth and time. They pervade the universe. Therefore, they affect the destiny of the human race. We, made in God's image, are Satan's prime target. He was defeated in His temptations of Jesus. Now he is after us. But Jesus brings the kingdom (rule) of God to bear in this scene. He shows His supremacy over the demonic world and attributes His source of power to Gods Spirit. On another occasion when Jesus healed and exorcised demons, the Pharisees said, He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons (Matt hew 9:34). Others said, He is possessed by Bee1zebul (Mark 3:22), and, He has an unclean spirit (Mark 3:30). Some said, He has a demon! (Matthew 11:18). There was general acknowledgment of Jesus power. However, assigning it to Satan was the testimony of those who affirmed that Jesus and Satan were partners. This was a monstrous position to hold! It still is. If propagated and believed by enough people, it could destroy any hope for our salvation. It would turn God into Satan, light into darkness, good into evil, right into wrong, angels into demons, righteousness into sin. The consequences of such a transformation would be nothing short of total disaster. You shall not murder would become: Murder anyone who gets in your way! You shall not commit adultery would become, Commit adultery as often and with as many people as you care to! You shall not steal would become: Steal everything you can get your hands on! Are we talking fantasy? Is the preceding scenario an exaggeration? Of course, God will not allow His people to be completely and eternally destroyed. Anything that tends in that direction is so serious that God takes an emphatic stand against it. One can scarcely conceive of anything more serious than admitting that Jesus had great power but believing it was the power of Satan! This belief is so serious that Jesus, in the confrontation described previously, said,
Therefore I say unto you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of

Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come . . . but [he] is guilty of an eternal sin (Matthew 12:31-32; Mark 3:29, NASB, 1962). The belief that the Holy Spirit is unholy and the power Jesus had was given to Him by the Devil is a conviction people must scrupulously avoid in any age. Otherwise, the consequences are too horrible to imagine.

As Jesus continued in the time table of His ministry, He expanded His efforts by selecting twelve men to be His apostles (Luke 6:13 -16). They were given power to do miracles and were sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1 -2). Eventually, Jesus chose seventy (NIV: 72) others to join them. They, too, were given great power and the commission to preach the nearness of God's kingdom. They traveled ahead of Jesus from city to city (Luke 10:1 -9). When they came back from their mission, they were joyous that th ey had cast out demons in Jesus' name. Jesus, knowing the extent of the power even more than they, spoke of the superiority of the Spirit's power in terms of Satans fall from heaven (Luke 10:17-18). However, He instructed them not to rejoice over their power but to rejoice because their names were written in heaven. In other words, their proper allegiance was of prime importance (Luke 10:19 -20). Jesus took this occasion to rejoice greatly in the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21). Jesus was witnessing the expand ing work of the Holy Spirit. These seventy men, as well as the twelve apostles, had received from Jesus the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, exorcise demons, and proclaim the kingdom of God. The reception of these precious gifts by those whose names were written in heaven was, indeed, an occasion for rejoicing. These gifts, and many others, were of assistance to the early Christians after Jesus returned to His Father. However, Jesus' return to His heavenly Father was preceded by an event of stupendous significance. We may correctly say our personal destiny hinges upon it. We are speaking of the Gospel event. The apostle Paul spoke of this event later when he wrote to the Christians at Corinth, saying: Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I p reached to you, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1 -4). Paul discussed this Gospel event in his letter to the Christians at Rome. He said: I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Paul was speaking of a power strong enough to raise Jesus and us from the grave t o immortality. This is why we are told of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). The power of the Gospel becomes the power of our salvation when we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). The preceding references to Christ's resurrection tell us that Christ was raised. This

is a passive voice expression, which means that Someone applied power to resurrect Jesus. The Scriptures speak of God the Father raising Jesus from the dead (Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:20a). Jesus Himself spoke of rising from the dead (Luke 24:7; John 10:17-18). The power of the resurrection is the activating power of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 3:16).
Lesson 7


The Holy Spirit and Jesus were intimately associated. The Father gave the Holy Spirit to Jesus without measure. The Holy Spirit filled and empowered Jesus. The personal ministry of Jesus was permeated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus specifically chose about seven dozen disciples, including the apostles, to assist Him in His expanding ministry. To aid them in their task Jesus shared with them some of the Spirits works of power (1 Corinthians 12:9 -10). The New Testament contains some anticipatory teachings with reference to the Holy Spirit. By this we mean the teachings of Jesus about the Holy Spirit that would affect the lives of His followers after His departure. Mark, chapter 13, is often called the Little Apocalypse. There are parallel passages in Matthew and Luke. Jesus' vivid apocalyptic-style teaching came in response to a question asked by His apostles, Peter, James, John, and Andrew. Jesus had just announced that the magnificent temple in Jerusalem would be totally destroyed. They can conceive of such an incredible catastrophe only in connection with the end-time. In their minds, this could only be an eschatological (end -time) event. Therefore they ask, Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled? (Mark 13:1 -4). Sign (semeion) was a favorite word of the apostle John. Later he used it in his gospel not merely to describe a miracle (dunamis) but also to speak of a miraculous happening in view of its purpose (John 21:30-31). In the question before us, the apostles, including John, asked about the sign. In other words, they seemed to be searching not only for information about these coming events but also for the overall Purpose for such a disruption of history. In His answer to their inquiry Jesus clearly showed His empathy for them. He understood their perplexity. His answer stressed their involvement during those troubled times: See to it that no one misleads youdo not be frightened . . . be on your guard . . . (Mark 13:5-9). More germane for our present study than any of the other facets of the Little Apocalypse are Jesus words to those four apostles, And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit (Mark 13:11). What an assurance! What a consolation! Troubled times lay ahead; they would be involved. But they were given encouragement. They would see the purpose of it all. They would be able to speak and explain to the worldly opposition the plan and telos

of God. The companionship and leading of the Holy Spirit would be a source of strength and knowledge for them. Those apostles would need Gods help. There is no doubt this p recious promise applied to all the apostles. However, the subsequent history of Peter, James, and John, mentioned here, shows how the apostolic band was indeed embroiled in those troubled times. Peter fell to the point where he vehemently denied he even kn ew Jesus (Mark 14:71). James was the first apostolic martyr (Acts 12:1 -2). John was exiled on the island of Patmos (Revelation 1:9). Did these things mean that Jesus' promise that the apostles would be guided by the Holy Spirit applied only to events surro unding the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple? By no means. Moreover, the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives did not immunize them against temptation, grief, or death. That is a fact worth remembering. There is an intriguing teaching of Jesus on the efficacy of prayer. In Matthew it is found in the sermon on the mount. In Luke it is found after Jesus teaches the Lord's prayer to His disciples. In yet another setting, Jesus illustrated how the bounty of the supremely good heavenly Father far overshadowed the gift of a friend who gave him as much as he needs. Jesus' conclusion is: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall [your] Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Luk e 11:1-13). The parallel passage in Matthew reads: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7: 7 -11, esp. v. 11). Although from a literary point of view the settings of Matthew and Luke are different, we may assume that each conclusion is essentially the same. Each is preceded by the same teaching about prayer. The NASB of Matthew 7:11b speaks of your Father Who is in heaven Who shall "give what is good (dosei agatha = shall give goods or good things). In Luke 11:13 the NASB reads: . . . How much more shall [your] Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit [ dosei (the) pneuma agion = shall give (the) Holy Spirit . . .). Thus we conclude that Luke spoke in metonymic fashion of the Holy Spirit as the epitome of all the good gifts that God the Father lavishes upon His people: God . . . will give only good to his children who seek it. Indeed, he will give them the supreme gift, the Holy Spirit . . . Human bounty is still only a trifle in comparison with that of the heavenly Father. What is given is not only as much as he needs [v. 8], but the supreme gift of the Spirit. The future tenses found in both the Matthean and Lucan text s suggest that this promise of the Holy Spirit to God's people looks forward to the Christian age. As Fitzmeyer puts it, Here Luke makes Jesus speak of the gift to be given in the Period of the Church (24:49; Acts 1:4, 7, 8). The anticipatory view of God 's promise of the Holy Spirit for His children as noted previously is also in harmony with other teachings of Jesus about the gift of the Holy Spirit for His disciples. Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2, 10). It was a controversial experience for Him. But on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and

drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37 -39). Here again, there is a promise of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive. The reason for the prospective nature of the promise is given, Jesus was not yet glorified. This is a typically Johannine explanation of Jesus' work and teaching. No doubt Jesus glorification had reference to His cross experie nce terminating in His victory over death. Other statements of Scripture lead us to this conclusion. This great triumph of Jesus is the watershed marking the transition from His anticipatory promise of the Holy Spirit to His followers to their actual recep tion of the Holy Spirit. Jesus ministry was carried out according to His own time -table. The Gospel of John helps us to see His plan unfold as He moves to His glorification. Early on, He tells His mother, My hour has not yet come (John 2:4b). Later, whe n His opponents became so enraged they were trying to seize Him for execution, it is said that no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come (John 7:25, 30). As His ministry was nearing its close, Jesus realized that His purpose was about to be accomplished. His hour was at hand. He spoke of His pending death as the fulfillment of that hour (John 12:23, 27, 31 -32). Jesus did not merely see His death as the climax of the hour: Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He should depart out of this world to the Father . . . (John 13:la). The longest recorded prayer of Jesus was offered near the end of His life. It began with: Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee . . . (John 17:1b). The Holy Spirit had not been given because Christ had not been glorified. Christ's glorification was His death, burial, and triumphant resurrection. As He drew near the cross experience, Jesus took the opportunity to speak to His apostles in anticipatory language abou t the Holy Spirit. (Earlier in His ministry Jesus had shared with His apostles and many of His other disciples certain of the Holy Spirits gifts of power to aid them as they assisted Jesus in His earthly ministry.) Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His apostles about the Holy Spirit Himself, which would become effective after Jesus glorification and exaltation at God's right hand (Colossians 3:1). The last discourse of Jesus (John 14 -16) is a rich source of information on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. It was addressed to the apostles for their information and encouragement to sustain them in their work after Jesus departure. It was followed by Jesus longest recorded prayer (John 17). Then came His Gethsemane experience (Luke 22:39-54). Framed by such vivid experiences, the lessons Jesus taught the apostles that eventful night about the Holy Spirit must have made a lasting impression in their minds and in their lives. Specifically, Jesus said:
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you (John 14:16-17). But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you (John 14:26). When

the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me (John 15:26). But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when he comes, wil l convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of thi s world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you (John 16:7 15). Several observations follow that are based on these passages.

The plural you (humeis) of these specific passages applied to the apostles. They were the ones to whom Jesus gave His farewell address. Within the parameters of the entire address (John 14 -16) there are some statements from which truths may be deducted and applied to Christians in all eras, especially in light of other New Testament teachings. However, one must be extremely judicious in this matter to avoid false conclusions. Our remarks concern Jesus' teaching about the Holy Spirit as it applied to the apostles. In these verses a grand display of the intimate relationships and perfect harmony of the Trinity is given. Each Person works in unison with the other two for the sake of mankind. The Holy Spirit is another Helper (allon parakleton). Jesus had been their Helper, but He is to make His exodus (exodos Luke 9:31) shortly. He promises another Helper after His ascension. In these texts, parakletos is translated in various ways: NASB: Helper; KJV and ASV: Comforter; RSV and NIV: Counselor; JB and NEB: Advocate; NAB: Paraclete. The translations tell the story. The Holy Spirit Himself will act as their helper when they need intercession, their comforter when they need encouragement, their counselor when they need representation, their advocate when they need defense. What a magnificent role! What a precious companion. One can empathize with the NAB translators who opted to transliterate the word parakletos instead of translating it. The significance of paraclete is more broad than one English word can convey. The Holy Spirit would remain with them continually and always. He would be their teacher and remind them of what Jesus had taught them. He would bear witness of Jesus. He would be a gift sent t o them from the Father and the Son. He would guide them into all truth, including things to come. As He shared truth with the apostles, the Holy Spirit would be emphasizing Christ in all His glory. Through them the Holy Spirit would accomplish His work of convicting the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. They would have an immeasurable advantage in their apostolic work. They would enjoy another advantage in their ministry. Although they were promised the Holy Spirit after Jesus went away, th ey are not deprived of Jesus' eternal

presence. He went away in death. He came back in resurrection. Before He ascended to His Father, He said to His apostles, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Fathe r and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19 -20). Since Jesus promised to be with his apostles always, it is not surprising to find Him also in the role of parakletos. In the role of advocate, Jesus functioned as one called alongside to help. This help would come from the One Who is the propitiation (sanctification) for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). This help came in His intercession (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25) or mediation (1 Timothy 2:5). The apostles had not lost their Savior. Rather, they were to be doubly blessed with the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their lives. Jesus was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit . On the very day of His resurrection, He appeared to His disciples, who were hiding in fear behind closed doors. They gazed in wonder and amazement. Could it be? Was it true? Jesus surely sensed the impact of His postburial appearances to them. He said, Peace be with you (John 20:19a). This was a common greeting among the Jews. Here, however, it had the added effect of allaying their fears. He showed them the identifying scars in His hands and His side: The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord (v. 20b). Jesus had given them peace before His crucifixion (John 14:27). He reassures them now, as if to say, My death will not rob you of the peace I gave you. He had sent them out on preaching missions before His crucifixion (Matthew 10:7, 16). He reassures them now, as if to say, My death will not hinder the mission I gave you. He had shared with them some miraculous gifts of the Spirit to assist them in their ministry (Matthew 10:1, 8), and this had been followed with the promise that the Father and He would actually send the Holy Spirit to them (John 14:26; 15:26). He reassures them now, as if to say, Be not dismayed. The power you have and the promised Holy Spirit will not be withheld from you because of my death. See, I have risen! I have overcome! This assurance was solemnized in symbolic ritual. He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Their peace was promissory, their mission was preparatory, and their new relationship with the Holy Spirit was anticipatory. These three elements of the apostolic ministry were fully assimilated into their lives. During the weeks that followed this memorable meeting with His apostles, Jesus was at last acknowledged as being God (John 20:28). This was a perception of deep spiritual insight. Jesus gave the apostles a world wide commission to be carried out with the authority of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:18 -20). Along with that . . . He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had c hosen (Acts 1:2b). He promised them, saying, . . . you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (Acts 1:5b). Then, He said, . . . you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

They were commanded to stay in Jerusalem and wait for what the Father had promised (Acts 1:4b). While they waited they took note of Judas's betrayal of Jesu s as that which had fulfilled a prophecy of the Holy Spirit through David. They no doubt remembered Jesus Messianic application of David's Forty -first Psalm to Himself when He said of Judas, He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me (John 13:18-30, esp. v. 18). They knew Judas was the son of perdition who perished that the Scripture might be fulfilled (John 17:12b). They could see in other Psalms of David the demise of Judas and his replacement according to the words of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 69:25; 109:8). The day of Pentecost was known as the Feast of Weeks (Deuteronomy 16:16), Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16), and First Fruits of Wheat Harvest (Exodus 34:22). It fell on the fiftieth day after the first day of Passover. When the day of P entecost arrived after the ascension of Jesus, the apostles received what they had been promised. From that day forward they were never to cower again behind closed doors in fear (John 20:19). There would never be any more perplexing moments of doubt about the authenticity of Jesus (Matthew 28:17). There was no more disquiet. They were given a peace that was full and free, even to the point which surpasses all comprehension (Philippians 4:7). Their promised gift of peace was in place. They were made aware of the comprehensive nature of the mission they had been given. Jews from many lands, who spoke many languages, stood before them. Now they had the opportunity to begin teaching all nations in their own languages. The promised Holy Spirit had arrived! Th ey were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance (Read Acts 2:1 11) The apostles promissory peace was now fulfilled. Their limited preparatory mission was now expanded to all nations. The anticipated Holy Spirit was now fully received. All of this applied to the apostles. Their freedom from fear was seen in their boldness of action. Their broad commission was seen as they addressed the diverse multitude. The presence of the Holy Spirit was manifested by tongues as of fire that rested on each one of them and in their ability to speak so those who spoke different dialects could understand in their own language. The three elements of the apostolic ministry were assimilated into their lives. One may disregard the chapter division at Acts 2, since the chapters and verses were not a part of the original biblical manuscripts. One finds that after Matthias is numbered with the eleven apostles the plural pronouns they (v. 1), they (v. 2), them (v. 3), they and them (v. 4), all have the plural noun apostles (Acts 1:26) as their antecedent. The point is that on the eventful day of Pentecost the apostles received the Holy Spirit directly from heaven just as Jesus had promised. Jesus did not send a pa rt of the Holy Spirit. He did not measure out a portion of the Holy Spirit and send that. He sent the Person of the Holy Spirit to the apostles as a gift. Just as Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit as He began His teaching and preaching ministry (Luke 4:14-15), the apostles were empowered by the Spirit's presence as they began their teaching and preaching ministry. There is no hint that they received a portion or measure of the Spirit. The text speaks of a Person called the Holy Spirit who

was sent from above to be with the apostles. The Holy Spirit then gave the apostles the power and ability to do what they did viz., speak in foreign languages. We have come to a watershed in New Testament history. Jesus had returned to the glory that He had with the Father before the creation (John 17:4 -5; Acts 1:9-11). The Holy Spirit was sent as Jesus had promised. The Holy Spirits arrival to the apostles is described metaphorically as an overwhelming, a baptism. Jesus had shared some gifts of the Holy Spirit with the apostles during their limited ministry (Mark 6:7, 13). Now the Holy Spirit Himself was with them in all His fullness (Acts 2:4). The Bible tells us plainly that . . . He [God] gives the Spirit without measure (John 3:34b). This is a statement about a Person. God sent His Son without measure for our eternal benefit. Likewise, He sent His Holy Spirit without measure for the same reason. Just as it is unthinkable to imagine God the Father passing out parcels of His Son for our salvation, so it is unthinkable to conceive of the Father giving out measures of the Person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came in Person to live with, or indwell, the apostles. As their promised Companion, He shared with them all the power, benefits, and abilities that were promised by Jesus (John 14-16). Their teaching, work, and writings in the New Testament show how beneficial and indispensable the Person and work of the Holy Spirit are.

Lesson 8


The day of Pentecost was a day to remember. On that day Jesus fulfilled His promise to send the Holy Spirit directly to the a postles. On that day the apostles realized the assurance and peace they had been promised. They perceived the greatness of their commission. They experienced for the first time the receiving of God the Holy Spirit into their lives. But that was not all. Th e apostles immediately received the Spirit's gift to proclaim publicly the Spirit -breathed words of God in many languages concerning Jesus and God's great plan of redemption. Luke, the historian of the Book of Acts, recorded Peters message in Acts 2:14-40. In that message, Peter did not hesitate to stress the divine origin of the events and words unfolding that day. For example: Peter stated that this Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore, having been exalted to the right han d of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear (Acts 2:32-33). Peter spoke to the men of Israel, saying, Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ [Messiah] this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36). Although Peter had already said that Jesus was nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put to death (Acts 2:23b), they knew they had demanded that it be do ne. Nothing could be more horrifying to a Jew than to be convinced that he had participated in the crucifixion of his Messiah:

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? And Peter said to them, Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself (Acts 2:37 -39). That day about three thousand people repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. They received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This event marked the beginning of the church. These people became followers of Jesus. Jesus had described Himself in these words: I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me (John 14:6). For a time the followers of Jesus were simply referred to as those in the Way (Acts 9:2; 19:9, etc.). By the time the Gospel had been taken to Antioch in Syria, the followers of Jesus were called Christians (Acts 11:26). The number of Christians began to multiply rapidly. From the initial th ree thousand the numbers increased to over five thousand (Acts 4:4). They continued to grow (Acts 6:1, 7; 11:21, 24; 16:5).

What did all of these Christians have in common? Note the three commonalities that were first given to the apostles, then, through response to their inspired message, were shared by all the Christians. They all received peace. They all received the commission to share the saving Gospel with all people. They all received the gift of the promised Holy Spirit. The first and second common alities present no misunderstanding of an interpretative nature. The gift of the Holy Spirit is a vital part of this study. A clear focus will help us to appreciate this indescribable gift: we must distinguish the gift of the Spirit from the gifts of the Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is the Spirit Himself, bestowed by the Father through the Messiah; the gifts of the Spirit are those spiritual faculties which the Spirit imparts, dividing to each one severally even as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:11) but the free gift which is promised in [Acts 2] v. 38 to those who repent and are baptized is the Holy Spirit Himself. This gift of the Spirit may comprehend a variety of gifts of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit Himself is given without measure to every Christian. Th at was one of the Pentecost promises (Acts 2:33, 38 -39). However, Peter announced that among the happenings of that eventful day was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophet Joels words: And it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind (Joel 2:28 -29; Acts 2:16-17). Of course, all mankind does not mean every individual of the human race. The legitimate use of hyperbole is found in every language, including the inspired language of the Bible. What does I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all flesh mean? There are two biblical answers to that specific question. There is a distinction between the Holy Spirit Himself and His gifts. The prophet Joel was referring to the Holy Spirit Himself. This wa s the way Peter presented it on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit Himself was promised to all mankind! He was first given to the apostles, the Jews. Then He endowed them with His gifts, in this case, the gift of tongues. Three thousand Jews surrendered to Jesus t hat same day by their obedience of faith. As a result, they received the promised Holy Spirit

Himself. There is no indication whatsoever that they received any of His gifts. As the Gospel of Christ spread, an evangelist named Philip preached in Samaria. Many of the Samaritans, Jews with a racially mixed background, were baptized, "men and women alike" (Acts 8:5, 12). We know they received the Holy Spirit Himself when they were faithfully responsive to Christ in baptism. This companionship of the Holy Spirit was one of the precious promises of the Gospel. Therefore, when the apostles Peter and John came to Samaria from Jerusalem they found Christians who had received the Holy Sp irit at their baptism. That being the case, what does one make of the following text?
Peter and John . . . came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. Now . . . Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles hands . . . (Acts 8:14b -18a). Peter had told the belie vers in the audience in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, the inauguration day of the church, they were to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This same Peter and John came to these Samaritan baptized believers. Note three reasons why they did not come to give them the Holy Spirit Himself: First, they did not have that power. Second, these Christians had already received the Holy Spirit Himself. Third, ther e is no New Testament record of any apostle laying his hands on anybody for him or her to receive the Holy Spirit Himself.

A major rule of Biblical exegesis is to never interpret a difficult passage so as to contradict plain biblical passages on the same subject. The rule applies here. Peter had preached that all people receive the Holy Spirit and the forgiveness of sins they had committed upon their obedience of faith (Acts 2:38 -39). God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17). Therefore, the Sama ritans who responded to the Gospel under Philip's preaching received the Holy Spirit the same way the Jews did on Pentecost under the preaching of Peter, John, and the other apostles. This interpretation of this specific event (Acts 8:5 -18) is in harmony with the general teachings of Scripture. We are told that the Holy Spirit had not yet fallen upon any of them. When the apostles laid their hands on them, Simon saw that they were receiving the Holy Spirit. The evidence they had received the Holy Spirit w as something visible. Why had the Spirit not been visible before the apostles arrived, since the Samaritan Christians already had received Him? Luke, the writer, is speaking of gifts of the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Spirit Himself. By the laying on of their hands, the apostles served as a conduit through which the Holy Spirit gave gifts to Christians. Linguistically speaking, we see here an example of metonymy. Some biblical examples show how common this figure of speech is. The teaching of Jesus concerning the rich man and Lazarus is very familiar (Luke 16:19 -31). In Hades, the rich man begged Abraham to send a warning to his five brothers lest

they, too, end up in Hades. Abrahams reply was: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them (v. 29). E veryone who heard Jesus' teaching knew Moses had been dead for well over a thousand years and the voice of the prophets, except for John the Baptist, had not been heard for hundreds of years! How could Abraham say, They have Moses and the prophets? He le t Moses and the prophets signify the law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. Again: Paul taught the Christians at Corinth the significance of the Lord's Supper and the proper way to observe it (1 Corinthians 11:23 -30). In this teaching he said: let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup (v. 28). How could Paul say drink of the cup? He let the cup signify the fruit of the vine in the cup. In the passage under study (Acts 8:5 -18), Luke used the common linguistic technique of metonymy. He used the term Holy Spirit to refer to that with which the Holy Spirit Himself is closely associated, the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This means we have correctly interpreted the passage in agreement with other teachings on the same subject. We have not explained it away. In Acts, chapters 10 and 11, we find the account of a non -Jew (Gentile) who was an army officer in charge of a Roman company of 100 men. He was a God -fearing man to whom the apostle Peter was directed b y the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 10:19-20). Peter arrived at the house of Cornelius. He heard his explanation of why he had been sent for. He realized that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him (vv. 34-35). He proceeded to preach to these Gentiles about Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power (v. 38a). As Peter contin -ued his sermon,
. . . the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were liste ning to the message. And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answer ed, Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he? And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:44 -48a). The question that motivated the preceding discussio n grew out of a statement made by the prophet Joel: . . . and it shall be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all mankind (Acts 2:16 -17a). The answer is before us. The baptism (overwhelming) of the Holy Spirit occurred on the Jewish apostles on the day of Pentecost and on the Gentiles at the home of Cornelius. In biblical terms the people of the world consisted of Jews and Gentiles (Greeks). When the Holy Spirit fell on the Jewish apostles at Pentecost and on the Gentiles of Cornelius' household, Gods prophecy spoken by Joel, . . . I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind, was fulfilled.

Note: The apostles were not saved because they were baptized with the Holy Spirit. Neither were the Gentiles at Corneliuss house. The inbreaking of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem was a convincing demonstration to thousands of those Jews present that the age of the Spirit had arrived and they could receive the benefits there from through obedience of faith in baptism. Likewise, the Spirits work at the home of Cornelius was a convincing demonstration

to both Jews and Gentiles that the Gentiles were included in God's saving work through their obedience of faith. God's prophetic word through His prophet Joel was fulfilled. No other examples of the baptism of the Holy Spirit are in the Bible or in subsequent history. All baptized believers received the Holy Spirit Himself as a gift. Many of those baptized believers also received various gifts of the Holy Spirit when the apostles laid their hands upon them. The church continued to flourish in the first century A.D. As time passed, the apostles continued to be the instrument through whom the Holy Spirit was distributing to each one individually just as He wills (1 Corinthians 12:11b). The miraculous gifts were from the Person of the Holy Spirit Himself. The apostles were privileged to be His way of sharing those gifts with whom and as He willed. In principle, this reminds us of Jesus' earthly ministry. We learned that He shared with many of His disciples and His apostles selective miraculous gifts of the Spirit to aid them as they helped Him in His work. After Jesus returned to the glory of His Father, the Holy Spirit was sent to the apostles as promised. When He came (on Pentecost) to the apostles, they became the means by which the Spirit shared His miraculous gifts with Christians to enhance the ongoing work of the church. As one studies the broad dimensions of the Spirit in the first century church, one finds an impressive display of the Holy Spirits power (Acts 5:12 -16). The Book of Acts shows the prominent role of the Holy Spirit in the history and growth of the church in the first century. In addition to the episodes we have already discussed, there are frequent references to vari ous Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking by the Spirit, prophesying by the Spirit, being sent by the Spirit, lying to and testing the Spirit, guided by the Spirit, and comforted by the Spirit. Furthermore, the early church was aware that the Ho ly Spirit had spoken through prophets and kings, was speaking to them, and was taking a leading role in providing leadership for Gods people. This astounding relationship of the Holy Spirit to the early body of believers was firmly founded on what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit and the life and experience of the first century church. They were intimately and personally influenced by His supernatural guidance. They were convinced that the Holy Spirit was a divine Being who could truthfully be called God (Acts 5:3-4, 9). Therefore, as God (Deity), the Holy Spirit is readily referred to as the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16: 6-7). In this instance Paul and his companions were forbidden to speak or travel against the will of the Holy Spirit/the Spirit of Jesus . One would have to play theological gymnastics to separate the two! In the Godhead, the Persons of the Trinity are often distinguished but never separated. Furthermore, the apostle Peter wrote later that the Spirit of Christ had guided the prophets of ol d in their predictions about the coming sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow and that the Holy Spirit had guided those who preached the glory of Christs death, burial, and triumphant resurrectionthat is, the Gospel (1 Peter 1:10 -12). He went on to say, If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of

God rests upon you (1 Peter 4:14). It must have been a profound joy for those early Christians that God was giving the Holy Spirit to all who obeyed Him (Acts 5:32), for in so doing they received the promised benefits of both Christ and their Comforter. Note Paul's statement in Romans 8:9-11. Verse 9 reads: However you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. B ut if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. It is evident that God the Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We can readily see why He is indeed the Spirit of glory! As time went on, more and more Christians were given miraculous gifts by the laying on of the apostles' hands. Jesus Himself had shared the power of the Spirit with His apostles and many of His other disciples for the advancement of the Gospel during His ministry. After Pentecost, the apostles were privileged to share with many Christians various gifts of the Spirit by the laying on of hands. The Gospel message was, indeed, the veritable Word of God revealing salvation in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). The miracles being done by the apostles established the credibility of that message. Later, they were recorded to help others to accept the message as the truth and come to saving faith in Jesus. Disciples upon whom the apostles had laid their hands used the Spirit's gifts for the same reason (Acts 6:3, 5-10; 8:5-8). However, we do not find these disciples laying their hands on others to give them miraculous powers. We are not to conclude from the preceding examples that the only motive for the use of miraculous powers was to establish the truth of the Gospel message. Sympathy for one in physical distress was often a factor in aiding one who was also spiritually deprived. Time and again Jesus was moved with compassion over the physical distress of others. He used miraculous power to help them (Matthew 14:4; Mark 1:40-41, etc.). Peter was also moved with compassion when he was told that a certain disciple named Tabitha had died. She is described as an outstanding servant by the saints at Joppa who wept and mourned her death. Peter raised her up and presented her alive to the mourners. As news of this event spread, all over Joppa many believed in the Lord (Acts 9:36 -42). What a beautiful scenario of compassion, love, power, and faith! If compassion does not accom pany evangelism, the light of truth is reduced to gloom.

Lesson 9


We find among the writings of the apostle Paul letters that were written while he was engaged in missionary travel. Paul's work is described by the historian Luke in the Book of Acts. However, Luke does not tell us anything about Paul's correspondence. From studying the activity of Paul recorded in Acts and the letters he wrote while engaged in that work we may safely conclude that Paul wrote 1 C orinthians about A.D. 55; Romans in about A.D. 56 or 57; and Ephesians in about A.D. 60 or 61. (The ill-founded skepticism that Paul was not the author of Ephesians does not need to be addressed here.) In these three letters, Paul listed about two dozen gi fts of the Holy Spirit. However, some of these gifts are so closely related as to be virtually synonymous. For example, the gift of mercy often may have been visually demonstrated by one who also had the gift to heal; the gift of service may have been often practically manifested by the gift of helps; etc. Even the apostles themselves were appointed, or set in, the church of God. They were gifts. We have learned in our study that these gifts of the Spirit were given to many Christians who were selected to receive them by way of the laying on of the apostles' hands (1 Corinthians 12:11; Romans 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:6, 14). Paul wanted his fellow Christians to understand the nature and use of these gifts. He wrote to the church at Corinth, saying: Peri de ton pneumatikon, meaning: Now concerning spirituals [gifts] . . . I do not want you to be unaware (1 Corinthians 12:1). These different gifts were called charismata in v. 4. This word is related to charis meaning grace, and charisma, meaning gift. The gift s of the Holy Spirit were freely given through the apostles whom He chose. The gifts of which Paul spoke are found in the letters mentioned. Let us consider the following chart of

Some comments about these gifts are in order. First, we remember that the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit on Gods people, and through Gods people, was primarily to confirm the teachings of their word as God's Word. Faith was established in those who heard the message. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way: . . . how shall we escape so great salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:3-4). Second, we should note that these gifts were given to individual Christians according to the Spirit's will (1 Corinthians 12:11). However, the overall purpose of the gifts was for the "common good" (1 Corinthians 12:7). Indee d, in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians he pressed the theme of the common good. For example: And this I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is seemly, and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord (1 Cor inthians 7:35). And again: All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the

profit of the many, that they may be saved (1 Co rinthians 10:23, 33). It is not surprising that Paul stressed the use of the gifts for the common good (1 Corinthians 14:3-5). Indeed, if the Holy Spirits good gifts had been merely for individual use, Paul would not have resorted to fervent prayer to get rid of his own thorn in the flesh. He would have used the Spirit's gift of healing (2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Acts 19:11-12). Neither would he have been so concerned about the sickness that brought Epaphroditus, his fellow worker to the very point of death (Philippians 2:25-30). Paul did not use the Spirits gift of healing in such cases because the gifts of the Spirit were not for personal use. Therefore, he told the Corinthians: So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12). In fact, Paul says: Let all things be done for edification (1 Corinthians 14:26b) and in a proper and orderly manner (1 Corinthians 14:40). Third, all of the gifts were not of the same magnitude or kin d. Paul urged the Corinthians to earnestly desire the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31a). Some gifts were greater than others. This may be accounted for in several ways. Some gifts were more spectacular than others. Healing would likely be more dramati c than teaching. The effecting of miracles would catch more attention than giving, etc. Fourth, some gifts were demonstrated in miraculous ways while others had the appearance of being merely exceptional human abilities. Examples of gifts that would be considered miraculous are; miracles, prophecy (foretelling), various kinds of tongues, and healings. Examples of gifts that may have been perceived by some as natural are; teaching, mercy, giving, and faith. However, all the gifts bestowed were characterized by miraculous features. Even the individuals mentioned as gifts bear miraculous features. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit set in (from tithemi, to set, with design, in a certain arrangement or position) apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and pastors (1 Corinthians 12:6 -11; 28 Ephesians 4:7-11). These individuals would need gifts such as the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and mercy. These people were gifts to the church, and they were gifted to fill their respective role s efficiently. Fifth, the gifts of the Holy Spirit filled a need in the young, growing church. It was a great need. It is difficult to overestimate it. However, Scripture shows that this need was sufficiently met by the Holy Spirits gifts. One of the grea test needs of the early church was a full and complete revelation of God's Word, specifically defined and readily available to all. They faced opposition from without and within. They addressed these difficulties with God's Word. However, the Scriptures we re not completed until near the end of the first century. The writings were not generally available to the widely scattered congregations for many more years. In addition, the conviction that God's inspired Word was to be restricted to a fixed number of manuscripts was slow in emerging. Eventually, the church became convinced, with some lingering doubts about a few books from some quarters, that the New Testament was complete. We have evidence that the New Testament then consisted of the twenty-seven books we have today. This evidence dates from A.D. 367.

In the broad context of three hundred years of history (ca. A.D. 50 350) the church as a whole experienced tremendous growth. This occurred in spite of the fact that the Word of God, written, was not readil y available to all and not definitely defined until near the end of that long period. Those early Christians were able to survive and grow in such numbers and at such a pace that Christianity became the favored religion of the Roman Empire. It is difficult to overestimate the Holy Spirit as He indwelt the people of God and shared His gifts with them. By Gods grace, the church was supplied with sufficient power and resources to proceed in the grand work of spreading the Gospel. This task was ongoing even du ring the period when He was revealing His Word and the Spirit was inspiring men to write it. Termination of the Miraculous Gifts The early church was informed by the Holy Spirit that there would come a time when His miraculous gifts would no longer be need ed or given. The comprehensive purpose of the Spirit's gifts was to attest to the Word and edify the church. Passages like Ephesians 4:11-16 are helpful in aiding us to see the duration of these gifts in light of their stated purpose. In this passage we find great stress on equipping, building up, and growing up with reference to growth of the church. They were to continue to press for (attain) the unity of the faith. The faith is the doctrine of salvation, the Gospel of Christ. It is that which is obeyed (Acts 6:7). Of course, our faith is based on the faith, which is the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Jesus came as the Word incarnate (John 1:1, 4). While here He taught the Father's words (John 14:10), as words of spirit and life (John 6:63); when He returned to the Father, He sent the Spirit to teach the apostles all things (John 14:26)When they wrote this Word it was by the inspiration (an inspirited process) of God (2 Timothy 3:15 -17). However, this Word had not reached its teleion (complete, perfect) state until the apostle John wrote in Revelation that no one may add to or take away from the words of that book (Revelation 22:18 -19). Although this solemn pronouncement referred to the Book of Revelation, warnings against adding to, subtracting from, or changing the Word of God are found in both Testaments (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6). However, the full application of this principle was not brought to bear until the church had in its hand a Bible that was the canon that is, the book containing all the inspired Scriptures, no more, no less! Just as the Scriptures did not reach their teleion (perfect) state until they were completed, the church did not reach its teleion (mature) state until Christians realized they had in hand all of Go d's written Word, which could be applied fully to their lives. This process was designed to bring them to a teleion (mature) state, which belongs to the pleromatos tou Christou (fullness of Christ), (Ephesians 4:13). During Paul's lengthy discussion of s piritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12 -14), he made the point that love is a still more excellent way (12:31). He described love in very lofty language. In showing the superiority of love over miraculous spiritual gifts he said: Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know

in part [ek merous] and we prophecy in part [ek merous]; but when the perfect [teleion] comes, the partial [ek merous] will be done away (1 Corinthians 13:8 -10). This statement would be quite surprising if we had not already determined what the teleion is. We know that the teleion is the completion of the writing of God's inspired Word and the church's realization, possession, and application of that Word bringing them to full growth (teleion) in Christ. We can readily understand why the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit had served their purpose. That which was partial, in part (merous), was being done away by that which was complete, full -grown, perfect (teleion). When one grasps the broad perspective of the Holy Spirit's miraculous work in the first century and the overall purpo se of that work, one can clearly see why Paul said the miraculous gifts would cease or be done away with. One can also better understand the views expressed by church leaders during the first four centuries of the church in regard to the passing away of th e Spirit's miraculous gifts. The miraculous gifts were given to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. They, in turn, served as conduits for the Spirit to give miraculous gifts to other Christians. However, these Christians could not lay their hands on others to impart spiritual gifts. This meant, by the nature of the case, that there would come a time when the miraculous gifts of the Spirit would no longer be exercised by those early Christians. Consider the following scenario. The last apostle to die was John. He lived into the last decade of the first century. Suppose he bestowed miraculous gifts upon a group of twenty-one-year-old Christians in about A.D. 95. Some of them performed miracles for seventy-five years until A.D. 170. Young Christians saw these mira cles. They testified they had seen them for seventy -five years until A.D. 245. For another generation other Christians could tell younger ones they had known Christians who had been personally told by others about miracles performed by the old ones. This brings us to about A.D 320. This sequence fits the records of early church writers. Justin Martyr lived in the first half of the second century (ca. A.D. 100 -165). He recorded that Christians had the gift of prophecy, power of healing, and power to exorc ise demons. Irenaeus lived in the last half of the second century (ca. A.D. 120 -192). He spoke also of those who could drive out demons, foretell the future, and heal. Tertullian lived into the first half of the third century (ca. A.D. 150 -220). He spoke of many spiritual gifts that were forthcoming during his day. Origin lived in the first half of the third century (ca. A.D. 185-254). He said that even in his time there were traces of the Holy Spirit's signs among a few who had obeyed the Gospel. Eusebius lived almost to the middle of the fourth century (ca. A.D. 270-340). He looked back on the age of miraculous gifts as the heroic age of the church. Likewise, Chrysostom, who lived in the second half of the fourth century (ca. A.D. 347 -407), made reference to the fact that miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit had been imparted to others only by the apostles when they laid their hands on them and that such things as speaking in tongues were no longer taking place. This amazing harmony between biblical teaching and postbiblical writings of church leaders on the subject of the termination of the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit leads to an interesting question. If the Holy Spirit is not giving miraculous powers to

God's people today, what is He doing? The Holy Spirit and Christians Today At last, we come to the very place where many people start in their study of the Holy Spirittheir personal relationship with Him. The desire for an intimate relationship with the Spirit is understandable, and the fact that it is possible makes it even more attractive. However, the immediate and direct approach may lead to bewilderment, disappointments, and grief as one begins to realize the Holy Spirit is not doing what one thinks He should. In fact, misunderstanding about the work of the Holy Spirit today has led to great harm. Therefore, let us consider the Holy Spirit and Christians today. Are you one of those people who cannot resist turning to the last chapter of a book to learn how it all turns out? (I confess I have suc cumbed to that temptation on occasion, especially when reading mystery tales.) If this is your inclination, please do not go further until you have read the preceding lessons. They lay historical groundwork that produces an understanding of the Holy Spirit designed to make us appreciative of the continuing operation of the Holy Spirit today. His Presence: Nonmiraculous and Indwelling The Holy Spirit and Christians are intimately related. The relationship is nonmiraculous and indwelling. Each person receives the Holy Spirit as a promised gift when he or she turns to Jesus in an obedience of faith (John 5:30 -32; 7:37-39). As Christians, we become a place where the Spirit of God lives: Do you [plural] not know that you [plural] are a temple of God, and that th e Spirit of God dwells in you [plural]? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you [plural] are (1 Corinthians 3:16 -17). Or do you [plural] not know that your [plural] body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you [plural], whom you [plural] have from God, and that you [plural] are not your own? For you [plural] have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your [plural] body (1 Corinthians 6:19 -20). Note these verses have plural meaning in the original, as indicated. This means that Paul was saying that the church at Corinth was a dwelling place of the Spirit. While not minimizing the enrichment of our individual lives as a result of the Spirit's personal indwelling, one must keep in mind that the full fruition of the Spirit's work is realized in the corporate context of the body of Christ, the church. These are breath (pneuma)taking facts. They are also breath (pneuma)giving acts. When one is given the Holy Spirit (pneuma haqion), many wonderful results begin to accrue. Note some of these positive results. We are all aware that we depend on air for our physical life. I learned this early in life. When I was a child I was laying in the woods with a companion. As we were climbing a tree, I fell about ten feet and landed flat on my back on hard ground. Fortunately, no bones were broken. However, my friend thought I was dead because I lost my breath. I still have a vivid memory of grasping for breath. Indeed, it was a situation of breath or death. And so it is in the spiritual realm. Spiritual life is dependent on the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit in our lives we are spiritually dead. The first and greatest

benefit of the Spirit in us is spiritual life. Although alive physically, we may be dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1). Death means separation. If we are spiritually dead, we are separated from God. Therefore, we must be born again of water and the Spirit in order to have newness of life (John 3:1 -8). This new birth occurs when we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3 -11) and receive the Person of the Holy Spirit as a gift (Acts 2:38-41). Spiritual life begins when the Holy Spirit enters in. If one allows the Spirit to continue to live within, the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6:8b). The Holy Spirit gives us life (Romans 8:2, 9 -11). Life is precious. Jesus asked the question: For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul [life]? (Mark 8:36). One life (soul) is worth more than the whole world. There is really no realistic comparison between the inanimate and the animate. That which does not live does not last, but a life in Jesus sown to the Spirit reaps eternal life. The indispensable role of the Holy Spirit in our lives today is this: He gives us spiritual life! But what does Scripture mean when we read of one who sows to the Spirit? To sow to the Spirit means to live a life in harmony with the Spirit. It means to do the things that the Spirit approves. It means to use properly the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). The one who sows to the Spirit will reap the fruit of the Spirit because the principle of sowing and reaping is very reliable. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap (Galatians 6:7). The fruit of the Spirit is what the Spirit provides for us as a result of what we have sown. And what is this fruit? The apostle Paul gives a list of Christ ian character traits when he writes to the Christians of Galatia. This list, like the list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit given in 1 Corinthians 12, is not intended to be exhaustive. It is a didactic and encouraging list. He is saying that this group of t raits characterizes the Christian who lives and walks by the Spirit (Galatians 6:25). Specifically, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness (Galatians 5:22 -23). What an encouragement for the Galatian Christians to know that when they saw these traits in the life of a fellow Christian they saw evidence of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the life of that Christian. The fruit of the Spirit in one's life is tangible. It can be seen by others. It has a positive influence. It enhances the quality of life and one's relationship with others. The Holy Spirit not only gives us life itself; He gives us enhancement of life. There are many other benefits that we receive as a result of association with the Holy Spirit. Notice the following:
1. Love: . . . the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us (Romans 5:5b). 2. Guidance, direction: For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:14). 3. Strength: I bow my knees before the Father that He would grant you, according to the

4. 5. 6. 7.

riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:14, 16). Purification: you were washed, (1 Corinthians 6:11). Holiness: you were sanctified, (1 Corinthians 6:11). Vindication: you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11). Guarantee: In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).

How rich and expansive are the benefits received by the Christian. They can be fully appreciated only when we see how closely coordinated is the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit: For through Him [Christ] w e . . . have our access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge (2 Corinthians 1:21 -22; also see Ephesians 4:4 -6; 1 Corinthians 12:4 -6; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

Our joy overflows when we realize we are not left in doubt as to whether we are saved or not. Our faithful response to the Gospel assures us we have received the Holy Spirit of promise. The fruit of the Spir it in our lives is evidence that the promise has been fulfilled. Therefore, since we are certain that the Holy Spirit lives within us we rejoice that His presence is the guarantee of our inheritance. Praise be to God!

Lesson 10


Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus. He spoke extensively of their relationship with the Holy Spirit. As Christians, they were already aware of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The preaching of the Gos pel, as described in the New Testament, stressed that upon an obedience of faith one was assured of forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32). However, there was a tendency among some Christians to conclude that baptism into Chr ist was the end of the matter, not the beginning of the Christian life. One finds where Paul addressed the Christians at Rome, saying: What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1 -2) Some of those addressed thought it was acceptable to God, by His grace (Romans 5:20 -21), to continue living in sin. Paul taught extensively against this erroneous view. Among the many arguments against this antinomianis m, he pointed out that if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13). Paul was talking about the age -old struggle between the carnal and the spir itual life. We are not spectators in this struggle. We are participants. The battle is raging. Paul said the end results of this battle are conclusive. One result is: . . . if you live according to the flesh, you must die. Spiritual things last, material things die. It is

that simple: Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:50). Eternal values are spiritual One who is not spiritually minded can not, and will not, live eternally in the kingdom of God. The contrast is not merely between the wicked and the saintly, the sinful and the pure. The contrast is ultimately between the perishable (material) and the imperishable (spiritual). Another result i s: . . . if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Motivated and empowered by the Spirit, we grow in the spiritual life. We begin to see the relative futility of a life devoted to fame, fortune, power, etc. We learn the significance of service to God and our fellow travelers on life's highway. We are fulfilled as we walk in the footsteps of Jesus. We come to know the abundant life He came to give us. This happy state is the result of two specific developments in our l ives. First, we become aware that it is not in our power to accomplish this lofty lifestyle. We do not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. Paul said it is by the Spirit. In his last letter, addressed to his young coworker Timothy, Paul said: Guard through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you (2 Timothy 1:14). Awareness of our dependence on the Holy Spirit leads to the second development. We make a deliberate commitment to the sound words that are inspired by God, to the faith and love in Christ Jesus, and we guard the treasure entrusted to us through the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in us. We are eager to share our treasure, the good news of salvation in Christ. We are sensitive to the Gospel's spiritual dimensions as we wield the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). In this way the Spirit's presence in our lives empowers us within and is manifested to those about us as they see Him bearing fruit in our lives. We become cognizant of what Paul meant when he said: . . . do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). We can understand why He grieves when we reject the fruit He is cultivating in our lives (love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control, and such things). He grieves when we practice the deeds of the flesh (immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, bursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envyings, drunkenness, carousings, and things like these) (Galatians 5:19 -21a). We realize how barren our lives would be without the support the Holy Spirit gives us. We know
those who are according to the flesh set their mind on things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace; because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the Law of God, for it is not even able to do so; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5 -8). We take Paul's injunction seriously: Do not quench the Spirit . . . (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We do not permit our deeds or attitudes to sm other or overpower our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We know that friendships are usually damaged and hurt before they are severed. We also know that friendships are destroyed by neglect. Further, we know that friendship

with the world is hostility to ward God: Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose, He jealously desires the spirit which he has made to dwell in us? (James 4:4b -5). What a friendship! What a partnership! What a fellowship! What an encouragement to live our lives in harmony with the Holy Spirit and continually set our minds on Him Who lives in us.

What else does this Divine Person within us do for us? The Bible clearly teaches that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us with diligence. This role of the Spirit has to do with our prayer life. It also reminds us of how inept we are in our communication with God the Father and how glaring our weakness: . . . the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans- 8:26-27). Can anything be more encouraging than this? Can our prayers to the Father possibly be made more effective? Yes! Paul continues this discussion, saying: . . . Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Romans 8:34b). With the Holy Spirit interceding from within us and Jesus interceding at the right hand of God for us, is it possible to say anything more about the aid we receive from these two Divine Beings? Yes! We are told that this enhanced means of communication with Him is according to the will of our Father, Who loves us and gives us all things (Romans 8:27c, 32c, 39c). As Christians cry, Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God . . . (Romans 8:15b -16). And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba!Father! (Galatians 4:6). What communion and unity with the Spirit! How indescribable the intimacy of that relationship! As we cry out to God, His Spirit merges with our spirits in a dual chorus of praise and petition. The prayers we offer are presented to the Father as from members of a family, the Spirit Himself testifying that we are children of God. His Work through the Word It is a precious treasure to have the Person of the Holy Spirit living in us. He renders help, strength, and comfort in so many ways. We prize highly the fellowship we have with our Friend and Helper. The Holy Spirit works also in ways oth er than His indwelling activity of Christians. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17b). Although the phrase sword of the Spirit is a figure of speech, it is a vivid word picture of the power of the Word. This metaphor is used to desc ribe the nature and effects of God's Word. For example: the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two -edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intent ions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Indeed, the Word of God is not passive but dynamic, keen, penetrating, and able to evaluate our physical and mental traits. Because it is so overt and active, it is described as a weapon, a sword. The sword of the Spirit is truth (John 17:17). Jesus shared this Word of God with His

apostles (John 17:6-8). He promised the apostles the Spirit of truth, the Helper (John 14:14-17). This Helper, Spirit of truth, was sent to the apostles to bear witness of Jesus (John 15:26). This Spirit of truth supplied all truth to the apostles (John 16:13). When He came, He was to convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). We learn from all of this that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God are so intricately intertwined as to be inseparable. This is why the Lord can be referred to as the Spirit: Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). This is why it can be said: . . . God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba! Father! (Galatians 4:6) The Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, came with power to the apostles on the day of Pentecost as Jesus promised (Acts 2:1-4). As inspired men, they preached God's Word, the truth. This Word was so powerful it pierced the hearts of about three thousand people and made them believers. As believers, they were told to repent and to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:36-38). The first Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus was a unique day in history. Many remarkable events occurred. However, we wish to stress that the Holy Spirit was working that day! He was converting people to Christ. He was using the only source that can cause that conversionHis sword, the Word of God. When people responded to that Word in an obedience of faith, they were saved from their past sins and received the Holy Spirit as a gift. Before they surrendered to Christ in obedience of faith they did not have the Holy Spirit. After their surrender, He indwelt them. The Spirit--given Word that they heard produced faith: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). We are saved by grace through faith, not wor ks (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, the response to the Gospel by those three thousand on the day of Pentecost was an obedience of faith. It was not a boastful work of merit; otherwise, they would not have been saved or received the Holy Spirit. Both of these gifts were received after their response. The sword of the Spirit, the powerful Word of God, produces faith when listened to and leads to the Savior and salvation in Him (Hebrews 5:8 -9) when handled (2 Timothy 2:15) and obeyed properly (James 1:22 -25). This Word of God was put in written and final form. It was God -inspired (theopneustos). The Old Testament is just as inspired as the New Testament and is profitable for us to study (Romans 15:4). However, we are now living under Gods New Testament (covenant), to which we are accountable (Hebrews 8:6 -7). Since the Bible is now completed, we apply today the same principle that Paul taught the Corinthians of the first century. We learn not to exceed what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6b). We must not add to or subtract from Gods Word (Revelation 22:18 -19). Eventually, the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, will be our final judge (John 12:47 -48). In our look at the Holy Spirit and Christians today we analyzed His work. First, we learned that the Holy Spirit Himself works today for the Christian through (by means of) His indwelling activity. We learned this from the Word itself. We know that the

Spirit always acts in harmony with the Word of God. The Word is His sword. He would not turn His sword on Himself, f or, as Jesus taught, . . . any city or house divided against itself shall not stand (Matthew 12:25b). We discovered from the Word how marvelous and beneficial the indwelling activity of the Holy Spirit is for the Christian. We found these benefits were n ot only through (by means of) the Word (example: intercession [Galatians 4:6]). Neither were they only in conjunction or union with the Word (example: fruit bearing [Galatians 5:22 -23]). Rather, these benefits resulted from the activity of the Holy Spirit Himself (example: giving strength [Ephesians 3:16b]). They were always in harmony with what the Word teaches. Second, we learned the final, completed revelation of God (the Bible) is a work of inspiration by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we conclude there ar e no special, or additional, revelations from God today. Gods means of converting those who have never known the forgiveness of their sins is through (by means of) the revealed, written Word of God (the sword of the Spirit). The Spirit Himself wants all p eople to know that He will not be giving any additional instructions, revelations, or information to lead them to salvation in Christ. There are no direct conversions by the direct work of the Holy Spirit today. The Holy Spirit works from without by the Word to bring the non -Christian to Christ. Therefore, the unsaved are saved by following those instructions in the Bible that lead them to Jesus, the Savior. The Holy Spirit works from within the lives of the saved ones (Christians). The Holy Spirit Hims elf has been given to them as a gift. The fellowship of the Holy Spirit with those Christians who neither grieve nor quench Him results in what Scripture calls the Spirit -filled life. His Work through Providence Does the Holy Spirit work in any way other t han those ways we have discovered? We may answer, Yes, but with caution. We are not cautious because we doubt the work of the Spirit in our lives. We do need to be cautions in trying to be specific about any other work of the Spirit that has not been pre viously mentioned. Paul made an intriguing statement to the Christians at Rome: Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Since joy and peace are a pa rt of the fruit of the Spirit, it seems evident that the God of hope helps us to abound in hope by way of the Spirit's power. Therefore, by virtue of the Spirit's power the Christians hope joins peace and joy as a vital part of the Spirits fruit in the l ife of a Christian. This hope makes us even more confident that . . . God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We know that the Holy Spirit gives us joy, peace, hope. In fact, we know that every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow (James 1:17). Also, we know that the Holy Spirit Himself and His atten dant blessings are gifts to Christians from our loving and gracious God. Perhaps now we can see what kind of caution is needed when considering the work of the Holy Spirit with regard to Christians. We must be cautious in speaking of the

providential work of the Spirit. It is always necessary to remember that the Holy Spirit is a Person. He works in perfect unity and harmony with the other two Persons in the Trinity. By appropriation, He fulfills certain tasks in subordination to God the Father. This indesc ribable union is indicated by the use of the triune formula expressed in connection with baptism (. . . baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19b]), apostolic benedictions (The grace of the Lord Jesus Chris t, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all [2 Corinthians 13:14]), and apostolic teaching,
but when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4 -6).

We read that God is called Savior (1 Timothy 2:3). Jesus is called Savior (2 Peter 3:18). But we accept salvation by our obedience of faith to the teachings of the Spirits inspired Word and are sealed in Him [Chri st] with the Holy Spirit of promise . . . (Ephesians 1:13). We read that peace comes from God our Father (Romans 1:7), Who is called the God of peace (Philippians 4:9b). Peace comes from Christ (Galatians 1:3) and the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16), which is called the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). Peace is among those Christian character traits that make up the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We read that God the Father is Lord (Deuteronomy 32:6). Christ the Son is Lord (1 Peter 1:3). God the Spirit is identified as Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17 -18). We also find in the Scripture that God's children prayed to Him as Father (Matthew 6:9), to Jesus as Lord (Acts 7:59-60; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Revelation 22:20). Their prayers were to be offered in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18) as He aided and interceded for them (Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15, 26). We cherish the experience of offering our prayers in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as we sing Dear Lord and Father of Mankind, Jesus Keep Me Near th e Cross, and Gracious Spirit Dwell with Me, and closing our fellowship with the Doxology: Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow / Praise Him, all creatures here below / Praise Him above, ye heavnly host / Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! These selected examples illustrate the impossibility of separating the Persons of the Godhead and their work. From creation, through redemption, to consummation, the Trinity is involved in all the work of the Godhead's dealings with humanity. Although their tota l work is inseparable, there are elements within their work that are distinguishable. By appropriation, each Person in the Trinity has a unique role to fill, without the other two being absent. One example for each Person illustrates this point. God the Father is the only member of the Godhead Who receives the kingdom at the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:22 -28). God the Son is the only member of the

Godhead Who delivers the kingdom to the Father at the end of the age (1 Corinthians 15:24). God the Spirit is the One to Whom we owe the inspiration of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). All of this has a bearing on the providential work of the Holy Spirit. We have studied the Holy Spirit extensively, including His place in the Trinity, informat ion about Him in the Old Testament, His relationships, His gifts, and His work today. We have found that none of these facts about the Holy Spirit are isolated facts. The work of God the Spirit, like the work of God the Father and God the Son, is integrated within the totality of the Godhead more intricately than the multitude of threads that are interwoven to produce a beautiful tapestry. Their work together shines forth in full splendor and glory when we view it in totality by way of Gods revelation in the Bible. This includes the Father's providential work. He provides us with every good thing and every perfect gift (James 1:17). This includes Jesus (John 3:17), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39; 5:32), and all that is good: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven g ive what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:11). The Bible believer does not call the providence of God into question. He or she may wonder how it worksbut never if it works. The true believer is ready to join with others in singing that grand old hymn that includes the line: I've never passed beyond the sphere of the providence of God. Without questioning the fact of Gods providence, we simply take note of the providential work of God today. We remember that when we consider the providence of Go d we are including the role of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. Since our present study is about the Holy Spirit, we continue with the conviction that He is involved in bringing to us the innumerable gracious provisions that flow from the G odhead. Let us set the context for our considerations. First, we learned that the final, completed revelation of God (the Bible) is the work of the Holy Spirit. There are to be no more special revelations. Second, we learned that God's ways of converting those who are not in Christ is through (by means of) the revealed Word (the sword of the Spirit [Ephesians 6:17]). Therefore, there are no direct conversions by the Holy Spirit today. Third, we also learned that the Holy Spirit continues to work today f or Christians in a nonmiraculous way through His indwelling activity. This nonmiraculous indwelling activity is in harmony with the teachings of the Scriptures, which are inspired, Spirit -motivated. However, we learned that this activity is not merely through (by means of) the Word; neither is it merely in conjunction with (along with) the Word. It is, in fact, the indwelling activity of the Spirit Himself. Fourth, we have learned all of this from the Word itself. We are back to the place where we can make the cautious suggestion that God the Spirit does act on behalf of Christians in ways beyond His indwelling activity. He acts providentially in harmony with the continuing work of God the Father and God the Son. We noted earlier that God's outpouring of precious gifts is often the result of our prayers. James goes so far as to say: You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:2b-3). Gods provisions are affected by our heart condition and our prayer life. Therefore, as God's children, we may pray in

faith, according to His will, with pure hearts and expect to receive benefits from Him. Shall we pray about what we already have? Certainly! We should be eager to offer up thanksgiving for blessings we have received. Shall we pray for ourselves and others, concerning things we desire? Yes. Paul expressed his heart's desire in prayer (Romans 10:1). We are privile ged to do the same. What may we as Christians confidently pray as we express our faith in purity and sincerity of heart that the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) will respond positively? We can all make a lengthy list! However, let me share with you a few prayer requests I have heard in public worship for many, many years. Perhaps you have also heard some of them. They imply faith and trust in a loving God Who hears and answers prayer. Do they also imply a conviction that God the Spirit may be involved in bestowing the requested benefits? (Whether the requests we mention have lost much of their meaning through stereotyped usage is not a matter for us to decide, unless we happen to be one who uses them. Otherwise, disparaging remarks concerning them are more of a discredit to those who criticize than those who pray.) Examples of the prayer requests to which we have referred are: 1. Give us our daily bread. 2. Lead us safely to our respective abodes. 3. Bring us back at the next -appointed hour. 4. Give the preacher a ready recollection of what he has prepared. 5. Comfort the bereaved. 6. Guide the hands being used to restore the sick. 7. Defeat us in things that are wrong. These prayers, and others like them, are examples of strong faith that God provides. We may not know exactly how He provides, but we are persuaded that out of the fullness of His love He does provide. As we started our discussion about the Holy Spirit's providential work, we stated that caution is required. Caution is in order because we are t alking about the Spirits work beyond His inspiration of the Scriptures, His conversion of people to Christ through the sacred Word, and His nonmiraculous work as He indwells Christians. Of course, all of these things are providential, in a sense. But we h ave been discussing providential activity of the Spirit that goes beyond these areas. While we have affirmed that such activity does occur, we have tried to heed our own warning and not speculate on how the Spirit provides. It is sufficient for our faith t o believe that God fully provides for us out of His fullness, and that His fullness consists of being God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

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