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Theological Position Paper Rough Draft

For my final class for my degree we have to write a theological position paper stating in 100-200 words our position on metaphysics, epistemology, axiology, ministry praxis in both education and leadership. We have to have some scholarly resources as well as use Scripture to support our position. This is the rough draft assignment I sent in, it only had to be 50-100 words with support.

Metaphysics
Metaphysics is “the branch of philosophy that inquires into the ultimate nature of reality.” In a Christian worldview the ultimate nature of reality is that God is the ultimate source of all the reality and He alone is responsible for our being. We see this in John 1:1-4 when it says, “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 were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (ESV)
Epistemology
Epistemology is “a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of our knowledge.” This is a very common question to be asked, how do we know what we know? In a Christian worldview Epistemology is knowing about God. Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours our speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (ESV) It is through His creation that God reveals truth and knowledge.
Axiology
Axiology is also called the “theory of value, the philosophical study of goodness, or value.” This has to do with what shapes our values and more specifically why we tell our children to be good and what it means for them and us to do good. It is all a part of ethics. In this day and age, we have many people asking “why should we be good or do good to others?” a biblical answer would be because we are all created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27).
Ministry Praxis -Education
One definition of praxis is “practical application of a theory.” Ministry Praxis would be the practical application of ministry work, and more specifically here in education. This would be in the form of educating believers how to apply what they believe in their daily life. This can be done through schools, churches, and other means. We see this in Matthew 28:19-20 when Jesus gave the Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (ESV) We are commanded not only to make disciples and baptize them, but to teach what Jesus taught.
Ministry Praxis – Leadership
Just as above Ministry Praxis for leadership is equipping leaders for ministry. This is very important for a Christian worldview so that leaders are equipped with biblical knowledge and helping with practical skills to teach others. In Ephesians 4:12 Paul writes about the importance of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (ESV) Equipping of the saints refers to “the purpose of spiritual office and gifts. Christ gave Himself for the benefit of others; now, those in Christ imitate His generosity by using His gifts for the benefit of others.”

Bibliography
Barry, John D., Douglas Mangum, Derek Brown, and Michael Heiser. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA., nd
Dew, James K. and Mark W Foreman. How Do We Know? An Introduction to Epistemology. United States: Inter-Varsity Press, US, 2014.
Encyclopedia Britannica. N.p.: Encyclopedia Britannica, 2016.
Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. United States: Baker Publishing Group (MI), 2001.
Merriam-Webster. “Definition of PRAXIS.”. 2015. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/praxis.

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Teaching and The Great Commission

Teaching and the Great Commission

What comes to your mind when you hear “The Great Commission?”  Many think about missions, missionaries, global missions, many think of the word “go.” The Great Commission does not only include these things. It is not just about overseas, global context, and cross cultural contexts. The Great Commission is about every single day and every single aspect of our lives. The Great Commission has direct application to the way that we teach. Every time we teach no matter where, Sunday school class, behind a pulpit, in a class room, at a coffee shop, anytime that we are engaged in an act of teaching whether formal or informal we are fulfilling the Great Commission.

Matthew 28. Jesus has risen from the dead, He has been making some appearances, talking to people, explaining the next steps of what will happen before He ascends into heaven. Matthew 28:16, “Now the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw Him they worshipped Him, but some doubted. These are the same disciples that who walked with Jesus, they are the same disciples who saw the miracles Jesus performed, they saw the lame man walk, they saw Lazarus raised from the dead, they spent all of their time with Him. And here they are looking at Jesus, resurrected from the grave, but still some doubted. These are the same men who heard Jesus speak about His death and resurrection time after time, and yet some still doubted. This should stop you in your tracks, but we should also be encouraged by this. We should be encouraged because we all no matter where we are in our walk with God do have moments of doubt. Some feel inadequate in their faith if they have times of doubt, some feel they are somehow “unsaved” if they reach points in their life with doubt. The encouragement should be that we are not alone in those times of doubt, because even the disciples who saw the resurrected Lord had doubts. It is ok to have these feelings of doubt from time to time, we should not think we are bad because we have them.  Jesus explains in verse 20 after giving the great commission why we shouldn’t think we are bad for having these doubts, because even through our doubts He says, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey, to observe everything that I have commanded you. And if you are overwhelmed, it is ok because I am always with you until the end of the age, this is what Jesus is saying.

The foundation of the Great Commission, Jesus says all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Jesus has the authority and it is on that statement that Jesus says therefore or because of this authority given to Me I am giving you this command. The foundation of the Great Commission is the authority of Jesus. The focus of the Great Commission is the command itself: Go and make disciples, and the way to that is by baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptism identifies the people with Jesus, Baptism says you identify your life with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You are saying your life is devoted to Jesus Christ and that I am His and I submit to His authority. Teaching them to observe, to obey everything that Jesus commanded.

The fellowship of the Great Commission is that Jesus said, “I am with you always.”  In John 14-16 Jesus has this conversation with His disciples, He says to them that He will be leaving them, giving them plenty of forewarning that He would be leaving them, but promises to send them a Helper and Comforter (the Holy Spirit), and just like Jesus He will be “with you.” Everything that He (the Holy Spirit) does will be about reminding them of things that Jesus had said. It is the indwelling Spirit’s ministry in our lives that enables us to keep this command that Jesus gives. He is with us, the fellowship of His great commandment.

How does this apply to our teaching? Jesus does mention teaching specifically here, but it is not about me or you it is all about Jesus. It is not about how much experience or how little experience we have. It is not about what we bring to the table. It is all about Jesus’ authority, His message. We are baptized under His authority identifying with Jesus, teaching His commands, it is His presence that is enabling us to do it, it is ALL about Him, it is NOT about us. We can rest in the authority of Jesus who told us what we need to teach, we must teach simply the things that He taught. If you are not pointing people to Jesus under His authority or His command than you are not obeying Him and it could potentially be sinful. In everything that we teach, in every lesson we teach we must bring it back to Jesus and His commands. This is a great goal to work towards in every aspect of ministry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes from Rlgn 330

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Christology: Philippians 2:7, “Christ emptied Himself”

In Philippians 2:7 the Apostle Paul writes about Christ, “but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (ESV) This verse has been interpreted many different ways by many different theologians as well as many different denominations and religions. This essay will explore the question did Jesus lay aside some of His Deity when He became human or did He keep all His Deity when He became flesh?  I will also discuss what Christology and the Hypostatic Union is and how it relates to the views of Christ’s Deity and humanity. It is very important as Christians to grasp this concept and not limit Christ in His Deity as He took on the form of human.

One of the most important doctrines to the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is God. In John 1 we read, “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 were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-4. ESV) Here John is writing that Jesus is fully God and has been God from the beginning. In Psalm 33:6 we read, “By the Word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth.” (NIV) We also read in the Gospel of John that “the Word became human and lived here on earth among us.” (John 1:14, NLT) John is telling us that not only was Jesus fully God, but that He is fully human as well.

The question that has been debated over the centuries is when Jesus took the form of a servant and was born in the likeness of man as Philippians 2:7 says, did He give up all some or none of His Deity? The two main views is the classical view and the kenotic view. The classical view is that God is both fully God and fully human at the same time. In Scripture we read that Jesus was fully God (John 1:1), but also that His humanity is revealed throughout the Gospels.[1]  This view also asserts that Scripture shows that Jesus was both human and God at the same time, and did not give up any of His divine attributes. The kenotic view is a view that states that believing that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully human does not require the belief that Jesus Christ was both omniscient and non-omniscient or omnipresent and non-omnipresent at the same time.[2]  This means that Jesus would have had to lay down or empty some of His Deity when he became man. Part of the kenotic view is that the Second Person of the Trinity laid aside His omniscience in order to become fully man, for a person cannot be fully human and omniscient at the same time.[3] This view clearly takes away from Jesus being fully God, which if we take Scripture at its word Jesus was and is God.   From these two different views we see that the main issues scholars address is what exactly Christ emptied Himself of as part of the movement from being in the form of God to taking on the form of a slave.[4]

Jesus came in the form of a man (incarnation) and still remained God. According to Towns, the incarnation of Jesus Christ is central to all Christian doctrine.[5] Since the incarnation is so important in the Christian doctrine it only makes sense that theologians would debate this issue. Did Jesus lose some of His Deity when He came to earth as a man? If you believe in the kenotic view then this is what you believe. The problem with this view is that in the verse it says nothing about Christ stripping Himself of His divine attributes as has sometimes been suggested.[6] The use of the Greek word ekenosis, translated as emptied, might indicate that at His incarnation, Jesus gave up certain prerogatives associated with His divinity.[7] One of the prerogatives that Jesus gave up willingly to come to earth as a human was the glory that He had as God. In one of my favorite prayers in Scripture, Jesus prays before His death and says, “Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” (John 17:5, NLT) Jesus here is asking the Father to restore His glory He once had with Him “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1), and we know from Stephan’s vision in Acts 7:56 as he was dying that He was restored to that glory. In Philippians 2:6 Paul writes, “Though He was God, He did not demand and cling to His rights as God. (NLT)  He willingly gave that up to take the form of a servant as He was born into the likeness of man. A servant or a slave would be the exact opposite of the highest place Jesus would have in being in the glory of God. A slave has the lowest position; he is powerless; he has no rights, he has no glory, no honor only shame.[8] For Jesus to come in the form of a slave means that he had human emotions. He laughed, He cried, He felt anger and temptation, all while continuing to be sinless as well as fully God. In Colossians 2:9. Paul writes, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” (NASB)  This means that Jesus was and is fully and completely God and He also dwelt in the form of full man.

When also examining this passage we must also look at what Christology is. Christology is studying of the nature of Jesus, and according to The Lexham Bible Dictionary, “Christology is the theological investigation of the Christ. The study of Jesus in the New Testament, namely His persona, activity and especially His role in salvation.”[9] The classical view and the kenotic view that is continually being debated is all a part of Christology. For many young, as well as older Christians in their faith this could seem very hard to understand. Proper interpretation while reading Scripture will allow us to understand which view is the correct view and which one aligns with Scripture.

The kenotic view seems to look at passages such as Mark 13:32 to show that Jesus admitted that he did not know “the day or hour” of His return.[10] Because of this they believe that Jesus lost part of His Deity when He came to earth, because surely if He was completely God He should still be completely omniscient. I believe what they are not seeing in this passage is that Jesus was only affirming his being fully human. What they also seem to be missing when reading this verse is that no one knows the day or the hour, and Jesus is teaching that we all should be ready for His return and not try and predict when it will occur. I do reject the kenotic view because it is not biblical and it diminishes the Deity of Christ.

Paul does not say that Christ emptied Himself of the “form of God,” either as to His divine nature or as to His human nature which at the time of His incarnation was made partaker of this form.[11]  It is my belief that Christ only set aside His glory in order to come in human form to show us how to love and how to be a servant. When we say we are followers of Christ, we must show that we have the mind of Christ and serve each other and live the way Jesus taught us to live being obedient to God.  When Christ emptied Himself and took the form of a servant it means He added humanity to Deity rather than subtracting Deity from His person. [12]In Philippians 2:8 we read why Jesus humbled Himself and emptied Himself of the glory that He had with God the Father. He did it so that He could die on the cross for our sins. Romans 8:3 tells us, “The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent His own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful.” (NLT) The law was powerless to conquer sin, but what the law could not do, God did by sending His very own Son with a nature that resembled our sinful nature. He came in the likeness of sinful man.[13] There would have been no other way for God to dwell among us besides being in the form of man.

While I do take the position of the classical view, I do realize that there are some feelings of opposition to this. As Boyd wrote, “How can we conceive of a single person with two minds?”[14] This seems to be a common issue in regards to Christ’s Deity as the God-man, as well as when speaking of the Trinity. When we think with our finite mind we miss that there are some mysteries of God that we may never know in this life. If we read the rest of Scripture we can clearly see that Christ remained God, He remained co-existent with God the Father and God The Holy Spirit.

Many theologians attempt to answer the question of what exactly Christ emptied Himself of, but as Witherington wrote, “the text does not tell us directly what Christ emptied Himself of, but clearly some kind of self-imposed limitations are implied.[15] I do believe that too many are not seeing the real reason Christ came as a humble servant, it was so He could show us the true character of God and that His coming was to offer salvation to everyone who accepts Him so that we would not have to face eternal death and separation from Him.

There are many verses in Scripture that show us that Christ remained fully God when He was fully man. We read in John 2:25 that Jesus “Himself knew what was in man,” (ESV) in John 1:45-49 Jesus saw Nathaniel under a tree when Philip went to call for him as Jesus was looking for His disciples, Jesus also makes His eight I AM statements in John showing that He knew He was God. If we are to look into what it means that Jesus is fully God and fully human we can look at what is called the hypostatic union. A great definition for the hypostatic union is in the incarnation of the Son of God, a human nature was inseparably united forever with the divine nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, yet with the two natures remaining distinct, whole, and unchanged, without mixture or confusion, so that the one person, Jesus Christ, is truly God and truly man.[16] In other words Jesus is a single person with two natures, human and divine. Neither His divine nature nor his human nature ever compromised each other, and since neither of these natures compromised each other He did not lose any of His Deity when He became human, He willingly gave up some of His attributes to be fully man. While in His human form He was subject to the law (Gal. 4:4), He was subject to the Father who sent Him (John 5:30), He was circumcised (Luke 2:21), He would grow in wisdom and in stature (Luke 2:52), and He would not know all things (Mark 13:32).[17] This does not take anything away from His Deity as God, because He also accepted worship (Matthew 14:33), He performed Miracles (John 11:43), He healed the sick (Matthew 8:3), and the greatest miracle of all was when He rose from the dead and conquered death and the grave.

In conclusion you can see that the kenotic view of Philippians 2:7 is unbiblical and is only trying to explain away a great mystery of God. If we thoroughly dig deep in God’s Word we can see that the New Testament shows times when Jesus is showing Himself as fully human, and there are times when He is showing Himself as being fully God. Our primary focus should not be on what Jesus may or may not have given up when He came to earth in human form, our focus should be on what He what He taught and what He did for us on the cross when He came down as the suffering servant to be the sacrifice and the atonement for our sins.  We also can see that Jesus Christ was the Word and created all things as He has always existed with God, He is equal to God, in complete cooperation with the Father He became man, humbled Himself as a servant becoming flesh and blood to offer salvation to all who accept Him, Christ also in the form of a man was tempted, felt pain, cried, became angry as well as continuing to be fully God by performing miracles, knowing the hearts of man, and rising from the dead

[1] Boyd, Gregory A, and Paul R Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2009. 113.

[2] Boyd, Gregory A, and Paul R Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2009. 118

[3] Boyd, Gregory A, and Paul R Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2009. 112

[4] Brown, Derek R. Lexham Bible Guide: Philippians. Edited by Douglas Mangum. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013.

[5] Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. 3rd ed. United States: Wadsworth Group/Thomson Learning, 2002.

[6] Loh, I-Jin, and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1995.

[7] Barry, John D., Michael S. Heiser, Miles Custis, Douglas Mangum, and Matthew M. Whitehead. Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012.

[8] Hansen, G. Walter. The Letter to the Philippians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Nottingham, England: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2009.

[9] Barry, John D., David Bomar, Derek R. Brown, Rachel Klippenstein, Douglas Mangum, Carrie Sinclair Wolcott, Lazarus Wentz, Elliot Ritzema, and Wendy Widder, eds. The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

[10] Boyd, Gregory A, and Paul R Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2009. 119

[11] Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians, to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Columbus, O.: Lutheran Book Concern, 1937.

[12] Melick, Richard R. Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Vol. 32. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991.

[13] Mounce, Robert H. Romans. Vol. 27. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995.

[14] Boyd, Gregory A, and Paul R Eddy. Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, Div of Baker Publishing Group, 2009. 116

[15] Witherington, Ben, III. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Company, 2011.

[16] Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 2001. 583

[17] ‘Jesus’ Humbled State and What It Means’, CARM – The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry (CARM – The Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry, n.d.), accessed August 2, 2015, https://carm.org/christianity/christian-doctrine/jesus-humbled-state-and-what-it-means.

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The Gospel of John part 2

In the opening prologue John recorded it to lay the theological foundation of his Gospel in which he presents Jesus as the Logos (Word) who was sent from God. In 1:18-19 we see He was sent as the light and life for man.

Looking at the prologue we read its poetic structure. It begins with “In the beginning was the Word.” We see that His essence was the Word and this is in relation to God, to creation and to humanity. In the beginning speaks of His eternity and pre-existence. The Word was with God speaks of His equality and His personality. The Word was God speaks of His essence and His deity. In the beginning means continuing to be, anytime you find a beginning the Word already existed.

In verse 14 we read that the Word that existed in the beginning became flesh. Why was this necessary? Because in verse 18 we read no one has seen God at any time and there was a need for God to reveal Himself.

The second phrase of verse 1 says, “The Word was with God.” This phrasing testifies to the distinction between God the Father and Jesus while emphasizing the close intimate relationship between the Father and Son. Jesus had inherent glory, in verse 14 it says “we beheld His glory.” This glory Jesus (the Word)has is the same glory God the Father has. What kind of glory is found in verse 18, “the only begotten God,” we saw His glory because He was (is) God.

The third phrase is one that Jehovah Witnesses get wrong. In their text they write, “The Word was a God,” which would show that the Word, Jesus, is only a lesser God that God the Father (Jehovah). The problem is the Greek text does not put the definitive article in front of God. The problem is they want to put a in front of God here but it is not in other verses if the text such as verses 6, 12, 13, 18 when the text refers to God the Father. The fact is the Word (Jesus) shares the same quality, character, and essence of God. John here shows the distinction between God the Father  and God the Son while still emphasizing their unity in all other regard.

The Word was God, so what would you expect if you saw God? Verse 14 says, “His glory which is full of grace and truth.” If Jesus is full of grace and truth He matches the attribute of the God of Moses because He has all the attributes of deity. In verse 18 it says, ” He hath declared.” Jesus is the exegesis of the Father, He has declared Him.

There are 4 chapter ones on the deity of Christ. John 1, Romans 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1. All of these first chapters speak on the deity of Christ. You can see Christ in action as the Creator.

John 1:4 says “In Him was life,” the Word is the source of life, both physical and spiritual. John uses the word life 36 times in his Gospel. In John, Jesus’ ability to grant life to those who walked in darkness or death is a key issue. Jesus has this ability because He was there in the beginning. Jesus is the agent of creation, in relation to humanity Jesus is the life of creation, the origin and He is the light of revelation (salvation).

In Him was life and His life was the light of men (4). The light continues to shine in spite of what happens in the person of Christ and His death. The light continues to shine and the darkness could not stamp it out. The light shines in the darkness, this is a prominent theme in the Gospel of John. Darkness has no chance of victory over the light, light is not simply the absence of darkness, but spiritually it is the enemy of darkness.

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John 14:28: Responding to Jehovah Witnesses

One of the verses that Jehovah Witnesses try to say shows that Jesus is not God is John 14:28. John 14:28 says, “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” So if Jesus is God why did He say the Father is greater than I?

Here in this verse Jesus is saying that His position is different fro God the Father, not His nature. In Hebrews 2:9 the writer says that Jesus was made a little lower than the angels. The author is explaining Psalm 8:5 here. In Galatians 4:4, we see that as a man Christ was under the law and so was for His time on earth a little lower than God the Father in position only not nature. During His time as a man He never lost His deity as God.

Jesus is in no way saying that He is inferior to the Father, because earlier in the gospel of John He repeatedly claims equality with Him. In John 17:5 during His prayer before His death Jesus says, “Father glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” Jesus is asking God to raise Him to the same position He had before entering into the world.

Another way to look at this verse is to take my son and I. We are both of the same nature, Man, but our position in the family is different. I have greater authority than he does but yet our natures are still the same. So Jesus’ nature is the same, but He in His Incarnation was sent by the Father.

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The Trinity part 1

I am going to do a study on the Trinity. Many non-Christians and Christians have a real hard time with this subject, and it is besides the question of “who made God” one of the most difficult concept’s of the Christian faith. Not only is it hard to understand, but it is also very difficult to explain. God does not want you to be confused about it, but we are not infinite and He is so we should expect that there are things we can not fully understand about Him. This doesn’t mean that you should not believe in the Trinity, or have a basic understanding of the concept. I will try and help you understand the basics of the Trinity, with a Biblical based approach, and as always if there are any questions or comments please feel free to comment below.

First to completely understand what the Trinity is, we must first look at what the Trinity is not. Many non-Christians as well as many Christians do not completely understand what the Trinity is so they either try and make their own definition of it or just don’t believe it all together. There are also some Christians who do not even believe the Trinity is Biblical. Many think that the Trinity consists of three gods. This is not true, if it was than Christianity would be a form of polytheism. Some also take a modalism or Sabellianism view which believes that God expresses Himself through different forms or modes, this is also an incorrect view. There are also some who attempt to say that because the word Trinity is not in the Bible than it is not Biblical or that it is derived from a pagan idea that was adopted by Christians. Others believe that God cannot be three persons and one person at the same time. These are only a few of the misconceptions in regards to the Trinity and if you fall into any of these or any other views that would deny the Trinity being a basis for the Christian faith I am hoping to clear the concept up for you.

So what is the Trinity? The Trinity in its easiest definition I can give is God existing in three persons. It is true that the word Trinity is not found in the Bible, but the Bible teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also teaches that there is only one God. (Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 6:4; Deuteronomy 32:39; 2 Samuel 7:22; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 45:18; Galatians 3:20; Ephesians 4:6) Each of the persons is is distinct from the other yet identical in essence or character. Each has a will, loves and says I and you. The Father is not the same person as the Son, who is not the same person as the Holy Spirit, who is not the same person as the Father. Each one is divine, yet they are not three gods but one God. The word Trinity is just used to attempt to describe the triune God- three co-existent, co-eternal Persons who make up God.

Hope this is not confusing to much, I am trying to explain as clearly and plainly as I can. In the Trinity we can see:

1. There is one God

2. The Trinity consists of three persons

3. The persons of the Trinity are distinguished one from another

4. Each member of the Trinity is God

5. There is subordination within the Trinity, Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit is subordinate to the Father and the Son, and the Son is subordinate to the Father. This is an internal relationship and does not deny the deity of any Person in the Trinity.

6. Each member of the Trinity have different tasks.

I will try and go through each of these points in future blogs, as well as give Bible verses to support them. Many people have attempted to illustrate or show what the Trinity is, such as an egg (shell, egg white and yolk) this is incorrect because the shell, white and yolk are only parts of the egg, and not the egg itself. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not parts of God, they are God. There are many others that fail to describe or illustrate it properly, I think the best way to describe or illustrate the Trinity is the triangle. If you put the word God in the middle, then at the top point put Father, Son on the right corner tip and Holy Spirit at the left corner tip, this shows that they are all one God but are still distinct from one another.

There is a lot to take in with this post so I will end it here for now. I will also go through and show support Biblically that the Father is God, Jesus the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. I will also go through the points above and explain them and show you where to find Scripture to support these as well. In conclusion I feel one of the best times to see the Trinity in the Bible is in the baptism of Jesus. In Luke 3:21-22 it says, “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus was also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened. An the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased.” (KJV)  We also see in Matthew 3:16-17, “As soon as Jesus was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

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Bible, Bible accuracy, Christian, Christianity, Faith, God, Image of God, Jesus

Image of God

Here is my final essay for one of my theology classes I just finished up this past weekend. It was written on what does it mean to be made in the image of God, why being made in the image of God is so important to our Christian faith, and how does being made in the image of God affect the way I interact with people as a pastor?

                                                                            Final Essay: Image of God

The foundation to the Christian faith is the belief that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. What does it mean to be made in the image of God, why is being made in the image of God so important in our Christian faith and how does being made in the image of God affect the way I interact with people in my chosen profession as a pastor? These are the questions I will answer in this essay.

We must first see that our belief is essentially synonymous with our doctrine. Doctrine is a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.[1] So if we look at what our Christian doctrine says about us being made in the image of God we will find it in the Book of Genesis, “Then God said, “Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves. They will be masters over all life-the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the livestock, wild animals, and small animals.” So God created people in His own image; God patterned them after Himself; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27) That humanity by creation uniquely bears the image of God is a fundamental doctrine-as is also that this image is sullied by sin and that it is restored by divine salvation.[2] How are we created in God’s image then? We are not created exactly like God because He has no physical body and He is omniscient and omnipresent. Being in the image of God relates to man’s immaterial parts and not his physical parts. We are a reflection of the glory of God and we are able to reflect His character in the way we love, forgive, in our kindness and faithfulness. God made both man and woman in His image, this means that neither are made more in His image but they are both equally made in His image.

The image of God as described within Scripture appears to have four separate aspects. If one of the items were removed, the image would cease to be the image of God.[3] The first is the rational aspect. This is the aspect that makes us aware of our own existence, our self-determination, and our ability to reason. The second aspect is the moral aspect. This is how we are able to discern between right and wrong. We all have a sense of right and wrong within us, some choose to suppress it and choose to do evil rather than good. The third aspect is the spiritual aspect. Within this aspect there are two separate issues, first a true understanding or knowledge of God and secondly it is also inferred that the spiritual aspect included original righteousness. The fourth and final aspect includes immortality. In the beginning when God created man and woman death was not in the original plan, but because of the sin of Adam and Eve we know have physical death.[4] All of these aspects combined make us in the image of God.

There are many times in Scripture that Jesus and the writers talked about and made reference to being in the image and likeness of God. In the books of Matthew and Mark there is an account of Jesus talking to the Pharisees. The Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into saying something against Caesar so they could accuse Him. They asked the question about whether or not it was right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not. Jesus knew of their motives and quickly rebuked them saying, “Give to Caesar what belongs to him, but everything that belongs to God must be given to God.” (Matthew 22:21) This was in response to them handing Him a Roman coin with Caesar’s image on it. Jesus avoided this trap they had set for Him by showing that we have dual citizenship. We have a citizenship in heaven and as Christians our soul belongs to God who made us in His image and likeness. Our souls are worth much more to God than any money or other “things” we can acquire in this world.

Being made in the image of God is important to our faith because when we accept Jesus as our Savior, not only are we still in the image of God but we are also a new creation in Christ. This will also affect the way we treat people, we will want to treat people with a genuine love, just as Christ did. Jesus is the perfect image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4b) and so we should strive to live our life as Christ did, this involves loving our neighbors as ourselves and loving God with all of our heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37)  Because we are made in the image of God, He knows everything about us and we should praise Him because we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-16)

Being a pastor and knowing that all people are made in the image of God is important in that I need to treat each person I come in contact with love and compassion, just as God is love. (1 John 4:8) It is the pastor’s job to recognize the image of God in other people, and know that they are all special because God created them. God chose us to be ministers of His Gospel so this must not be taken lightly. We should follow our perfect example, Jesus Christ, and have a servant attitude, have a love for God and others and remember that everyone is made in His image and likeness.

To be created in the image and likeness of God is to be created by a loving God and have much of His qualities. We will never be totally and completely like God because He is our creator but we have the ability to reflect His character and show such things as love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.

Word count: 998

Bibliography

Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker

Academic, 2001.

Merriam-Webster. Accessed October 7, 2014.

Towns, Elmer L. Theology for Today. 3rd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008.

[1] “Doctrine.” Merriam-Webster. Accessed October 7, 2014.

[2] Elwell, Walter A. “Image of God.” In Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 591. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984.

[3] Towns, Elmer L. “Anthropology.” In Theology for Today, 575. 3rd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008.

[4] Towns, Elmer L. “Anthropology.” In Theology for Today, 575-577. 3rd ed. Mason, Ohio: Cengage Learning, 2008.

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