This ‘Statement of Faith’ is my own. Most of it contains content that will be readily familiar, but there are some parts that are original to myself. I submit it for the sake of providing others a means of testing the trustworthiness of my views, which I hope, in the light of the Word of God is valid.
The Word of God – The Holy Scriptures of the Christian Faith
The Means of Faith for Dead Sinners
The Word of God is living, because it has proceeded directly from the mouth of God, and as such, is divinely powerful for dead sinners to be able to have faith in Jesus and be saved.
Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” [John 5:24,25]
It is the Word of God, the Words of Christ, that is credited with dead sinners being able to have faith and to pass from death to life [Rom 10:17]. Notice that it is while men and women are dead that they hear and that after they have believed that they come to life. The Word of God is Light and it alone is what makes possible for those in darkness to be able to see and believe. First is seeing and hearing, by means of the power of the gospel, and then upon faith in it, does one then obtain salvation, the permanent gift of the Holy Spirit.
The One Thing That Can Satisfy and Feed our Souls
Jesus quoted from the Old Testament and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'” [Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4] The people of Israel were flesh and blood just like us and they experienced the same temptations that Jesus overcame in the wilderness. The contrast between what the Jewish people sought in the wilderness and what Jesus sought in the wilderness, is the contrast between taking up the lie that we can live on the things of this world, as that which satisfies, and what alone does satisfy the soul.
Jesus exposed that lie for what it is and gives the Word of God that exclusive role as that one thing that we can live on and that which truly satisfies. While our hearts may be refreshed and gladdened by food and wine, we cannot live on these things alone. The Word of God must be acknowledged as that spiritual nourishment that alone can feed our souls.
The Exclusive Authority of the Holy Scriptures
The Holy Scripture of the Old and New Testaments is the sole authority for the church [1 Tim. 3:15], given by Jesus Christ by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to human authors for the express purpose of providing to all mankind God’s will and purpose for salvation. God has preserved the original content, from the smallest letter to the number of words, over the centuries by the same divine power that moment-by-moment preserves the creational order. Errors have occurred in translation from the original texts and from unsound variants, but God has preserved His Word in some form or another for every generation.
God’s Word is God-breathed, infallible, and divinely powerful to enable lost and spiritually dead sinners to believe in Jesus. The Sword of the Spirit pierces to the very depths of the soul of man, providing conviction and knowledge, as that exclusive means whereby mankind might know and do the will of God.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 …from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 For 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 intentions of the heart.
The Scripture of the Old and New Testaments are the material revelation of the Word of Christ, and as such, are the sole authority for all humanity, conveying Christ’s rule and will over all creation. Regarding God’s will for churches, families, and individuals, there is no other source of authority than the Word of God. Hence, a pastor or a parent are only to be submitted to insofar as they rightly reflect the Word of God and do not possess any authority over other persons beyond the Word of God. The Bereans subjected Paul’s teaching first to the authority of the Word of God, though he was an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ [Acts 17:11]. Consequently, it is imperative that ministers of the gospel rightly divide the Word of God and endeavor, in the fear of God, to not adulterate the Word of God [2 Cor. 4:2; 1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Tim. 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:14,15].
God is a Triune Being. The ‘Trinity’ is a theological term used to express what is revealed in the Scriptures. Please read below the Scriptural passages that support the following assertions that God is triune in person and singular in being or essence.
- God is One as a unity of Persons Who Mutually and Exclusively Indwell One Another
- God is three as each Eternally Divine Person is a Distinct Center-of-Consciousness
- Only the doctrine of the Trinity explains how it is possible to come to know God personally and to know each of the Persons of the Godhead
The Scriptures declare that God is One in that each of the distinct centers-of-consciousness (i.e., Father, Son, Holy Spirit) mutually indwell one another. Meaning, that God’s Oneness is in how the three divine Persons indwell each other exclusively. Only the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, mutually indwell one another. From all eternity there has been this unity of inter-dwelling of one another, so that it can be said that by nature the Oneness of God is indivisible.
The Scriptures declare that God is three in that each Person, namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are attributed with divine attributes and works. Each Person is eternal, equally divine, and distinct as a center-of-consciousness from the other two divine Persons.
Though distinct, each of the Persons cannot but equally make known the others. God is an ever-present community of three Persons, bound in perfect and holy love, so unified as One that it is impossible to know one without knowing the others.
God the Father refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the heavenly Father, that very One Who has always been in the Son and in the Holy Spirit in perfect fellowship, as ‘the Father’.
God the Son refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the beloved Son, that very One Who has always been in the bosom of the Father and has always been filled with the Holy Spirit, as ‘the Son’.
God the Holy Spirit refers to the eternally distinct Person within the being of God Who is the Eternal Spirit, that very One Who has always been indwelling the Father and the Son in the most perfect and sublime fellowship, as ‘the Holy Spirit’.
The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and these three are One in that they alone, exclusive of all others, have from all eternity mutually indwelled one another in perfect unity.
The Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father. The Son is not the Holy Spirit, nor the Holy Spirit the Son. The Holy Spirit is not the Father, nor the Father the Holy Spirit.
The Scriptural Basis For the Trinity (not exhaustive)
Matthew 12:31, 32 “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Some have asserted from this passage that this shows that Jesus is not divine, as blasphemy against ‘the Son of Man’ is not as serious of a sin as sinning against the Holy Spirit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As in the case of so many passages, what is failed to be understood is the profound significance of Jesus’ Incarnation. All of the passages that relate to Jesus’ lesser role to the Father [John 14:28] and His ignorance of things [Mark 5:31; Mark 13:32] that God the Father would unquestionably know and understand, refer to Jesus’ Incarnation, in which He took upon Himself, of His own will, our finite nature, with its limited powers and knowledge [Phil. 2:5-11].
In this passage we have blasphemy spoken against the Son of Man being capable of forgiveness, while blasphemy against the Holy Spirit not being afforded such forgiveness. We are to see and understand that it is in the profound significance of Jesus’ Incarnation that there is this distinction between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It is because Jesus’ eternal deity was concealed by His humanity that any sin against the Son of Man could be forgiven. While, on the contrary, to sin against the Holy Spirit, in this context, is to attribute the clear work of God as that which is of the devil. What Jesus is saying is that these men, who were sinning against the Spirit, were beholding before their very eyes the work of God, and yet, saying it was of the devil! They had no excuse. They knew they had seen the hand of God, while to just see Jesus clothed only in His humanity could cause any number of men to stumble in blasphemies.
Contrary to undermining the Trinity, this passage actually gives powerful witness to the Trinity. The Pharisees said, “This man casts out demons only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.” Notice, they had not mentioned anything about the Holy Spirit. But Jesus does! Jesus said, “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” Jesus equates His miraculous work of casting out demons to the Holy Spirit, while, at the same time, making a distinction between Himself and the Holy Spirit.
Notice that the Spirit was making these miraculous works of God known before these men, not separate from Jesus, but through Jesus alone. Jesus, at the same time, shows how He and the Holy Spirit mutually indwell one another and are also counted distinct from one another.
For a man to assert that the Holy Spirit’s actions manifested through Him were a work equated to the very works of God, to such an extent that to speak evil of them was to commit an act of blasphemy, is to assert an exclusive role as God’s representative! For they are works that are done by His agency, exclusive to Him and to no other. It was the Pharisees who made the charge personal, that Jesus was an agent of the devil, as they were seeking to undermine His authority for doing these things. But that is just it, it was a testimony of who Jesus was and that He did have the authority, because He was One with the Holy Spirit. Jesus did identify Himself with the miraculous work of God and then He says that their evil words against Himself could be forgiven them, because He was ‘the Son of Man’. Lastly, the distinction in forgiveness between Jesus and the Holy Spirit proves that the Holy Spirit is another divine Person, distinct from Jesus, Who in His Own Person can be sinned against by acts of blasphemy, while blasphemy could be forgiven against Jesus because His divinity was shrouded by His humanity.
John 3:11 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept our testimony.”
Jesus speaks specifically about a testimony that is plural. “We speak of what we know and of what we have seen”. Jesus is not speaking of His disciples, but of the plural testimony of the Father and the Holy Spirit, which is expressed in the Scriptures [texts].
The disciples were not those who were testifying the testimony of Jesus until they were filled with the Holy Spirit. In the immediate context Jesus asserts His own exclusive knowing and seeing. John 3:13 “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”
This passage shows that Jesus shared with the Father the exclusive glory of God before the creational order. Jesus makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father, while, at the same time, clearly identifying His pre-incarnate state as co-equal with the Father. As a point of emphasis, Jesus pinpoints ‘before the world was’, not just prior to His incarnation, to show His former state of being ‘from above’ and ‘not of this world’ [John 8:23].
John 10:37,38 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”
This statement was said in defence of His assertion, “I and the Father are one” (vs. 31), which was to assert an ontological oneness with the Father and, yet, also that He was distinct in person from the Father. Jesus says that the miraculous works demonstrate that He is the Son of the Father, an assertion of deity. Then, to remove any doubt, Jesus makes the incredible statement that He and the Father mutually indwell one another (‘the Father is in Me, and I in the Father’). Referred to as Perichoresis by early theologians, the mutual indwelling of the persons of the Trinity answers how they are one. Consequently, to behold the Father is to behold the Son and the Holy Spirit, and vice-versa.
Of particular importance is the statement, “and I in the Father”. While a mere mortal may be able to say that the Father is in them, it is quite another thing for one to claim that they are in the Father. This is nothing less than an assertion of deity.
John 14:16,17 “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 see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
Jesus here refers to the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believers. He makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit and yet acknowledges that the disciples have come to know the Holy Spirit, while Jesus has been with them. The Holy Spirit indwelled the human spirit of Jesus Christ, the man, together or alongside with Jesus’ eternal person, the eternal Son of God. The disciples knew the Holy Spirit as He indwelled the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the mutually indwelling of the persons of the Trinity answers how the persons are distinct and yet also ontologically one.
John 17:26 “…and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
This is the last statement in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer and there is a lot in it that affirms the doctrine of the Trinity. Not only in verse 26 but in two other places in chapter 17 Jesus says that He has made known the Father’s name to His disciples [John 17:6, John 17:12]. This is a fulfilment of the prophetic word given to Isaiah that His name would be called ‘Eternal Father’ [Isaiah 9:6] and it cannot mean anything other than a Trinitarian conception of God, as Jesus is not saying that He is the Father, nor could it be that any created being could make known the name of the Father to men. The Eternal Son of God did not come in His own name (i.e., Son of God) because of the very nature of the Incarnation, which necessitated the emptying of His prior form of God for the form of a bond-servant [Phil. 2:5-8]. He could not come in His own name while He was not possessed of that glory that belongs exclusively to God. Hence, the statement made in verse 5, that the hour has come for Him to be glorified as He was previously with the Father. Upon Jesus’ glorification is it said, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ’ because He has the glory that exclusively belongs to God.
Furthermore, notice what this prayer requests, as a direct outcome to Jesus’ making known the Father’s name, that the people of God should then love the Son as the Father loves the Son. This expression, “So that the love with which You loved Me may be in them”, again, cannot mean anything other than a Trinitarian conception of God. The Father loves the Son before the foundation of the world [John 17:24] and the exalted nature of this love signifies an equality with the Father, as the Father has given all things ‘into His hand’ [John 3:35]. This love for the Son is the same love that is to be ‘in them’. If Jesus’ person is anything less than divine then it would be idolatry for the people of God to direct their love toward Jesus. When the people of God love the Son then the Father loves them [John 14:21, John 14:23].
lastly, consider Jesus’ saying, “and I in them”. Only one possessed of the very nature of God can be in the hearts of God’s people. No created being can be in more than one place at any given time, while Jesus says that He is in those who will necessarily be in different places at the same time.
The Characteristics of God
God (i.e., the Trinity) is unfailing in His love and in His holiness. His preeminent attribute is love, but it is equally understood to be self-directed by His immutable holiness. He is exclusively divine, exclusively autonomous and self-determining, and without beginning or change. He is all-powerful (i.e., omnipotent), all-knowing (i.e., omniscient), and present everywhere (i.e., omnipresent). He is eternal, which necessarily means that He is not bound by time (e.g., all time is present to Him). He is the Almighty, the absolute ruler over all that He has created. Though He has delegated a role of determination to mankind, who has been made in His image, God is nevertheless that One to whom man must give an account. God is good, without any temptation toward evil or possessed of any imperfection by evil [James 1:13]. God created us in love and will continue to love everyone He has created, though His love may be brought to perfection with the wicked in the form of wrath in an eternal hell. Hell is that awesome and terrifying expression of the love of God that has been unrequited by sinners, again, expressed negatively as wrath or anger. It is the great and unfailing love of God that is the reason why God sent His Son into the world so that everyone can be saved [John 3:16].
God is Our Salvation – The Triune Work of God in Soteriology
Salvation is about coming into a relationship with God. It is about knowing God personally as your Lord and Savior. God is a being of triune relationships. He is a community of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The triune work of God in our salvation is about coming to know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Coming to Know God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
It was upon the Incarnation, in which the Eternal Son of God exclusively became incarnate (i.e., became a man), that a personal relationship could become a reality with the Father, the Son, and with the Holy Spirit. For in becoming a man, the Eternal Son of God experienced what it is to have an ultimate and sinless relationship with the Father and with the Holy Spirit, as a man. By virtue of being a man without any taint of sin [Heb. 4:15], who was possessed of that divine nature [2 Pet. 1:4] that belonged to the Eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ became that Elect One to Whom it was said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [Matt. 3:17; 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:17].
The Oneness of God [Deut. 6:4], which is how the three Persons do not constitute three Gods (i.e., Tritheism), is answered in the mutual indwelling of the eternal Persons within the Godhead. The mutual indwelling of one another, called Perichoresis by early theologians, manifests itself not only in the expression “the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” [John 10:38; 14:10,20; 17:21,23] but also in how the Eternal Persons exclusively make known each other:
- Jesus exclusively makes known the name of the Father
- the Father makes Jesus known as His Son in giving His name to the Son
- Jesus exclusively makes known His own name
- Jesus exclusively makes known the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Spirit exclusively makes known the glorified Jesus
Jesus Alone Makes Known to Us the Father
As a man among men, Jesus Christ made manifest the Name of the Father, as no else has ever done or ever will.
Isaiah 9:6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
John 5:43 “I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.”
John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.”
John 14:6,7 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”
John 17:6 “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.”
John 17:12 “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”
John 17:26 “and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
- it was the Father’s name that was manifested by Jesus
- the Father gave His name exclusively to Jesus
- the Father makes Jesus known as His Son
- the world does not know the Father
- only Jesus knows the Father and alone can reveal the Father to us
The expression “Your name which You have given Me” does not undermine Jesus’ divinity, on the contrary, it emphasises it! Only a Trinitarian conception of God makes this possible. For no mortal or created being could manifest or make known the name of the Father. The only begotten Son has exclusively explained Him [John 1:18]. When the Father bestowed His name upon Jesus, that is, upon His humanity, the Father was saying that Jesus alone knew Him personally as His Eternal Son. As the Eternal Son He always made manifest the name of the Father, as the Persons of the Godhead mutually indwell one another (e.g., “the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” [John 10:38; 14:10,20; 17:21,23])
When the Scripture says that the Father gave His name to Jesus, it is synonymous with giving Jesus that ‘life in Himself’ [John 5:26]. Again, similar to exclusively manifesting the Father’s name and the glory of God, we also find that the Eternal Son of God has always possessed that Divine Life, and therefore, could not have been given it in any other sense than in connection with His humanity [John 1:4; 1 John 1:2].
Jesus, as our ‘Wonderful Counselor’ and with the name of ‘Eternal Father’ [Isa. 9:6], brings us into that fellowship that He enjoys with the Father, as only the incarnate Eternal Son of God can do [1 John 1:3].
Jesus Alone Makes Known to Us Himself (i.e., the Eternal Son of God), veiled in the flesh of a man
As a man among men, Jesus Christ made manifest His own Eternal Name, as no else has ever done or ever will.
John 5:17-23 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.” For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. Therefore Jesus 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 the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”
John 8:12-18 Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself; Your testimony is not true.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about Myself, My testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent Me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am He who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”
John 14:13,14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
John 16:23,24 “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”
- Jesus makes Himself equal with the Father
- all are to honor the Son even as they honor the Father
- His testimony about Himself is true because He knows where He has come from and where He is going
- the disciples are to pray in the name of Jesus ‘so that the Father may be glorified in the Son’
Herein we see the other part of “the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” [John 10:38; 14:10,20; 17:21,23]. Jesus does not just make known the Father’s name, but He also makes known His own name to us. This is the mutual indwelling of the Persons of the Trinity, presented to us in the Scriptures as Jesus makes known the name of the Father and as He makes known His own name, as the Eternal Son of God.
Jesus Alone Makes Known to Us the Holy Spirit
As a man among men, Jesus Christ made manifest the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, as no else has ever done or ever will.
John 14:16,17 “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 see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”
John 14:26 “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 15:26 “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 testify about Me.”
John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”
John 16:13-15 “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 will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will 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.”
Acts 2:33 “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand 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.”
- the Holy Spirit cannot be known by the world because it does not see Him or know Him
- the Holy Spirit was known by the disciples because He was abiding with them in Jesus and was soon to be in them
- the Holy Spirit comes because Jesus asks the Father
- the Father sends the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus (proceeds from the Father)
- the Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus and glorifies Jesus
- the Holy Spirit cannot come unless Jesus returns to the Father
- the Holy Spirit does not speak from His own initiative
- the Holy Spirit continues Jesus’ work for the good of disciples (guide you into all truth..brings to remembrance..He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you)
- as Jesus was glorified with the Holy Spirit, so all those who were members of His body were glorified with the Holy Spirit (not fully, but in part)
Our only hope of having the Holy Spirit personally indwelling us is because of Jesus Christ. Just as the world does not know the Father, so the world does not know the Holy Spirit. In regards to Jesus’ humanity, only Jesus can bring us into a relationship with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus alone was that man that was full of the Holy Spirit and was fully glorified with the Holy Spirit after His ascension at Pentecost. In regards to Jesus’ divinity, Jesus can bring us into a relationship with the Holy Spirit because He has known the Holy Spirit for all eternity as the Eternal Son of God.
Jesus’ ultimate glorification of His humanity with the Holy Spirit is the very cause of our initial glorification [2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:14] and the basis of our ultimate glorification [Rom. 5:2; Eph. 1:18; Col. 1:27; 2 Thess. 2:14]. The Scriptures teach that the first giving of the Holy Spirit and consequent enlightenment for the disciples was related to Jesus’ glorification [John 7:39; 12:16; Acts 2:33].
The Holy Spirit Alone Makes Known to Us Jesus, as the Glorified Son of God
Upon Jesus’ glorification, the One and Only Holy Spirit [1 Cor. 12:12,13; Eph. 4:4] works exclusively through the only Word of God upon the hearts of sinful men and women, wooing and convicting their hearts of that truth that is in Jesus.
John 14:26 “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 16:8-11 “And He, when He comes, will 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 see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.”
Acts 5:32 “And we are witnesses of these things; (i.e., Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and glorification) and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”
1 Corinthians 2:10-13 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 10:3,4 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.
Ephesians 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
Ephesians 6:17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
1 Thessalonians 1:5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
Hebrews 3:7,8 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness….”
Hebrews 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit….
1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look.
- there is no ministry of the Holy Spirit except that which is united with Jesus Christ
- no one can come to Jesus except by the Holy Spirit
- the Holy Spirit does not use anything other than the Word of God to bring sinners to Jesus
- the Holy Spirit can be resisted
The Salvation that our Triune God has accomplished for us is about coming into a relationship with God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is for this reason that we are to be baptised in the name of the Trinity.
Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
God the Father, together with God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, created mankind to partake of His glory and goodness. In response to the reality of mankind’s finite nature, which was necessarily subject to the possibility of corruption, and with perfect omniscience that mankind would certainly be corrupted, the Trinity purposed the way of salvation by means of the Eternal Son of God’s incarnation, obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection, for all of mankind.
The Father sends the Eternal Son of God into the world to be born as a male, in order that He might be a second Adam [Gal. 4:4]. He was born under the Law of God that was given to Israel, in order to fulfil the Law of God and to fulfil that corporate expression of the ‘son of God’ and the ‘servant of God’, namely the nation of Israel. [Ex. 4:22; Isa. 41:8 to 53:11]
The Father loves the Eternal Son of God as a man and delights in Him [John 3:35; 5:20; 17:26]. At John the Baptist’s baptism of Jesus Christ, the Father publicly manifests Jesus as that Elect One [Isa. 42:1], in contrast to all the sons of Israel seeking repentance for their sins, namely, that Jesus is His only begotten Son, who alone has pleased Him, fulfilling the Law of Israel [Rom. 10:4], and that One that has justly been filled with the Holy Spirit as one according to the flesh.
The Father gives authority to the Son, in His state of humiliation, as a man, to lay down His own life and to take it up again [John 10:18]. The Father gives all judgment to the Son of Man [John 5:22], authority over all flesh [John 17:2], His glory [John 17:22], His life [John 5:26], His Word [John 17:8], and the manifestation of the Father’s name [Isa. 9:6; John 17:6,12,26]. These things are exclusive to the Incarnation, as the Eternal Son of God possessed all attributes of divinity according to His own eternal nature.
Upon the cross, the Father, in inexpressible pain and suffering does abandon His dearly beloved Son, as a vicarious and substitutionary atonement for sin. 2 Cor. 5:21 ‘He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.’ Upon His death, the Father immediately received the Son into paradise in both His naturally divine estate and with the spirit of His human nature. Upon His ascension, after His resurrection, the Father received the Son as that perfect Son of Man, whole and complete. The Father, on the day of Pentecost, did fully glorify the Son with the Holy Spirit and has enthroned His Son over all mankind [John 7:39; 12:16; Acts 2:33].
Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God as a man. The Eternal Son of God [Micah 5:2; Luke 1:35; John 1:1-5; 17:5], in accord with the will of the triune God, was sent from heaven to earth to be under the constraints of this creation and of human nature in the natural order of space and time, in which He did freely empty Himself of the form of God, to the end that He became incarnate in the womb of the virgin Mary, who had no sexual relations with any man prior to Jesus’ birth. The Eternal Son of God came into the world as Jesus Christ so that He might accomplish salvation, as the exclusive and only Savior of mankind, by fulfilling the Law of God as a man born according to the flesh, under that particular Law that was given to Israel. [divine; incarnation; virgin birth; without sin]
Jesus Christ is one person with two natures. The divine Person of the Eternal Son of God became fully human and yet retained, by right, His divine nature. He “emptied” Himself of His divine power by His own will, continuously or moment-by-moment [Phil. 2:6,7]. Jesus Christ was a man with a full and complete human nature, while incarnate in both His estate of humiliation and in His estate of glorification. His divine Person, though “emptied” of the powers of divinity, so that He willingly subjected Himself to ignorance (e.g., “Who touched Me?” Luke 8:45) and suffering (e.g., “I am thirsty” John 19:28), was nevertheless the same Person Who was immutably divine. [fully divine; fully human]
Jesus Christ fulfils and brings to an end all of the great offices of Israel and therefore is absolutely established as the only Savior who can bring us to the Father. He fulfils the exclusive roles of Israel that were meant to convey that ‘salvation is from the Jews’ [John 4:22]; namely, the Priest, the Prophet, and the King. He fulfils and obtains His three-fold office of Priest, Prophet, and King, by means of being the Way, the Truth, and the Life [John 14:6]. ‘No other name under heaven…has been given among men by which we must be saved’ [Acts 4:12], because He is…
- Our High Priest – Jesus alone is the Way, in that He has opened the way into the Father’s presence as the veil of His flesh was “torn” on our behalf, by means of His High Priestly offering of Himself [Heb. 10:19-21]
- Our Prophet – Jesus alone is the Truth, in that He has made known to us the Person of the Father, being the eternal life which was with the Father [1 John 1:2], as that only Prophet who said, “…but I say to you…” instead of “Thus says the Lord” (Matt. 5:22,28,32,34, 39, 44)
- Our King – Jesus alone is the Life, in that He has defeated mankind’s ultimate enemy – death [1 Cor. 15:26], destroying the works of the devil [1 John 3:8] even crushing the head of the serpent [Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20], by means of His victorious resurrection, as the ultimate King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Cor. 15:55-57)
The Holy Spirit comes to indwell all those who have believed in Jesus Christ, so that their very bodies become a temple of the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the role of the temple that was given to the nation of Israel.
The Holy Spirit’s part in God’s work of salvation is summarily understood as Glorification. As it says in ‘the chapter of the Holy Spirit’, Romans 8:30 ‘…and these whom He justified, He also glorified.’ The believer’s very first experience of the Holy Spirit is understood as ‘Glorification,’ which is synonomous with being ‘Baptised with the Holy Spirit’. The Holy Spirit’s act of glorifying the believer is three-fold: Regeneration, Sanctification, and Adoption.
- Regeneration – a permanent new birth in the believer in which there is a new creation of an inner man (i.e., born again, born of the Spirit), which is coupled with a spiritual death of the believer’s former self
- Sanctification – a singular infusion or a permanent sealing in the believers regenerated inner man with a principle of holiness, so that he or she is now a slave of righteousness
- Adoption – a permanent bonding of the believer into a fellowship with God as a beloved child and fellow heir with Jesus Christ
All are instantaneous at conversion, and, because they are founded upon God’s certain Justification of the believer, they are permanent and cannot be annulled. Anyone who has been justified is most certainly glorified with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit furthermore works an on-going work of sanctification in the life of a believer (not to be confused with that instantaneous sanctification at conversion). The Holy Spirit does this by means of promoting faith in the Word of God, and by many inward works of conviction, correction, admonition, warning, and also by affirming and persuading, and furthermore, by helping the believer to grow in faith and in all godliness.
The Holy Spirit initially glorifies the believer with the pledge of the Holy Spirit, in view of ultimate and full glorification. This ultimate glorification shall only be obtained upon the last day, at the resurrection, in which the believer will be made perfect, unable to sin and so completely filled with the Holy Spirit that his or her body will illuminate the glory of heaven.
Creation – God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) literally created the heavens and the earth in the space of six days, by the Word of His power, no more than 10,000 years ago. The universe and all things in it were created in motion, that is, in full development, as even Adam was created as an adult male. Consequently, God created not only all the stars at once, but also that their light, though millions of light years away, should be seen throughout the expanse of the universe. The solar system to the ameba have been created in a concurrent symbiotic relationship, with all of the rest of creation, as an orchestra begun in the midst of its performance, for the sake of displaying God’s immense power and interrelated design.
Animals and all forms of life have been created for the benefit of mankind, but God’s intention is for mankind to act as a wise steward over what God has provided, with regard for the welfare of beasts and for the continuance of the beauty and goodness that God created. There is absolutely no life anywhere else in the entire universe but on earth, as demonstrated in the creation narrative, in which the earth was created first and on the fourth day God created the sun, moon, and stars.
Men and women are equal image bearers before God and have been given by God specific roles for the marriage relationship that are designed to promote their own unique personal fulfilment, growth, and happiness. In general, God has appointed to the husband the role of principal provider, protector, and leader, as one who is to selflessly love his wife, and to the wife, the role of a help mate, being submissive to her husband, as a nurturer of children and a keeper of the home. As far as God’s intention, the pattern of the roles apply to any social setting external to the immediate family context. In other words, roles are to be uniform throughout the created order and not just limited to the family circle. Consequently, the Word of God implies that it is a shame when women rule (Isaiah 3:12). Many women are most certainly more capable than many men, but ability and equality are not the issue. Rather, God’s creational purpose for the different sexes to have differing roles is the governing issue.
Marriage is a gift created by God, between a man and a woman, for the purpose of procreation within the bonds of a commitment of love that is to be recognised by society. It is to be until death, but divorce is permitted if deemed necessary because of sexual infidelity (Matt. 19:9) or in the event that an unbeliever wishes to depart from a believer because the believer follows Christ (1 Cor. 7:15). Christians are only to marry other Christians (1 Cor. 7:39).
A Right Understanding of the Doctrine of Creation Will Guard Against Doctrines of Demons
1 Timothy 4:1-5 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. [see also: Rom. 14:16,17; 1 Cor. 10:25,26; Col. 2:16-23]
When God placed Adam in the garden of Eden, He commanded him to not eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, with the warning that on the day that he did so, he would die. Adam sinned against God by heeding to his wife, Eve. Satan’s stratagem in tempting Eve to tempt Adam was to ensure that Adam’s transgression would be without deception, so that the sentence of condemnation would be certain. Consequently, the seed of the woman provided the opportunity for redemption to occur for the human race.
Mankind’s fall into the state of sin and death has not abrogated the image that he bears of God, as it is still a sin to murder men under the Fall.
Death is the principal result of the Fall and may be summarily defined as separation. The Scriptures portray death on two levels. There is the first death and then there is the second death. The first death is the physical separation of the body from the soul, rendering the creation of man obsolete as body and soul. Upon the first death, the spirit of man goes to God. The second death is the separation of an image bearer (angelic or human) in their whole form from any sense of the presence of God. The day Adam and Even sinned against God they experienced spiritual death, which finds its fulfilment in the second death.
The first death is death on Satan’s terms, while the second death is death on God’s terms. Satan is in constant dread of the second death, as hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), and yet it will not occur until the first death is fully and completely abrogated by means of the general resurrection (1 Cor. 15:26).
Because of the Fall, mankind is subject not only to the two deaths, but in this life men and women are subject to every form of evil and suffering, living their lives in ignorance and hardness of heart, without God and without life.
Born out of God’s love for all of His image bearers [John 3:16] and according to His creational purpose of the man who was made as body and soul [1 Cor. 6:13], God purposed the redemption of all of Adam by means of a second Adam, of the same humanity, born under the Law [Gal. 4:4], so that the fulfilment could be obtained by all those who humbly subject themselves to a justification by faith, according to the Spirit [Rom. 5:1,2; 8:1-4].
The Eternal Son of God took upon Himself our nature by means of an Incarnation through the virgin Mary [Luke 1:35] and lived His life to the complete satisfaction of the Father [Matt. 3:17; 17:5]. This sinless life, unstained by the seed of original sin from Adam and in perfect obedience to the Law, He did freely and voluntarily offer in a death counted by the Law as one cursed of God – being hung upon a tree.
Gal. 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us–for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”–
This completely exhaustive and satisfactory sacrifice of Himself [Heb. 10:14], as an offering for sin, resulted in a universal and effectual reconciliation of the Father toward the world [2 Cor 5:19] and legitimised the Son of Man’s inheritance of all of Adam’s posterity, making Jesus of Nazareth, both Lord and Christ (in an Adamic and Davidic sense) over all creation, to the glory of the Father [Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 15:45].
The backbone of Jesus’ death and resurrection is Jesus’ personal fulfilment of the Law of God. Regardless of whether or not men believe in Jesus, it is a certainty that Jesus has fulfilled the Law of God. In this sense, it is an objective or impersonal atonement for all mankind.
2 Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Romans 8:3,4 …He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us….
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Jesus’ atonement is effectual, without any qualification being met on the part of mankind, in its objective fulfilment of the Law of God, thereby taking captive death in all of its power, so that Jesus Christ now holds the keys of death and hades [Rev. 1:18].
Jesus’ sacrificial life and death is twofold. It has secured a way of salvation, so that now because the Father has been reconciled to the world, the appeal to be personally reconciled with the Father may be freely offered [2 Cor. 5:20]. The corollary result of Christ’s work being that all judgment has been given to the Son of Man and that all who do not honor the Son, even as they honor the Father, shall know the wrath of the Lamb on that final day of judgment [John 5:23; Rev. 6:16].
Consequently, Jesus’ death must be universal and effectual as an objective reality over all of Adam’s posterity, even as He is named the ‘last Adam’ (i.e., Second Adam). Not only does this secure the way of salvation, but it also secures God’s perfect justice upon sinners by means of an impersonal atonement. By an impersonal atonement we mean that this has concretely resulted in the certainty of a complete annulment of the first death at the general resurrection on the last day regardless of any individual’s personal state in Christ. In order for justice to be fulfilled sinners must be punished for sins done in the body for all eternity, and yet this cannot occur unless an atonement has secured their certain resurrection in immortal bodies.
Consequently, the atonement was fully and perfectly accomplished in Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, as an offering for sin. It is a substitutionary or vicarious atonement [2 Cor. 5:21], effectually reconciling the Father toward the entirety of the human race impersonally [Rom. 5:18; 2 Cor. 5:19] and providing for a subjective personal reconciliation of sinners through faith in Jesus Christ [John 3:14,15; Rom. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:20].
This impersonal or objective aspect of the reconciliation of the Father toward all mankind is the basis on which the promise of eternal life can be made (i.e., ‘the word of reconciliation’ 2 Cor. 5:19). This is the very reason that a sinner can obtain forgiveness of personal sin, resulting in their personal reconciliation with God, which is salvation. The personal application of the objective reality of Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, is solely by faith in Jesus [1 Pet. 1:9].
Under the heading of Redemption we must give priority of place to that one thing needful which determines salvation, namely faith. We are saved not because Jesus died for us, but because we have believed in Him. Just as the Law of God is objectively fulfilled by Jesus, so His death stands as an objective reality, that cannot benefit us unless we are of faith. This is the ‘word of faith’ [Rom. 10:8] and the ‘word of reconciliation’ [2 Cor. 5:19] that Paul and his companions were preaching.
God created every single son of Adam, that is, every single human being for one purpose. He created us for glory. He created us to be temples of the Holy Spirit, in which God would completely and fully indwell us, so that our very bodies would become many times brighter than the sun.
It was a given certainty that eventually mankind would experience a corruption of his nature, because of the stratagem of the devil and the weakness of the man’s flesh. But when God created mankind He did so with a particular end in mind. That end was glory, which of necessity entails an inability to ever be capable of being corrupted again. God purposed a certain redemption for all mankind when He created mankind, in which finite image bearers could partake of the divine nature and thereby escape the potentiality of the flesh to corruption.
2 Pet 1:4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
It is important to understand that ‘Glorification’ is experienced only by those who are in Christ. This is because He alone is the only man who has been glorified and because it is the very glory that was His as the Eternal Son of God, given to His humanity for our benefit. Nevertheless, God created all mankind for this glory as the body was made for the Lord (1 Cor. 6:13). Those who reject this creational purpose of God for the body will be justly punished for all eternity in hell.
It is also important to understand that ‘Glorification’ is now and yet to come. It is understood to be now for the believer because upon conversion he received the Holy Spirit [see God is Our Salvation – The Holy Spirit]. For it says, ‘those whom He justified, He also glorified’ (Rom. 8:30) and ‘do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ (1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19).
It is ‘yet to come’, as we have asserted above, upon the ultimate end for which God created man. At the resurrection from the dead, the body being made immortal, the believer will experience the full glorification of his or her body so that the body will be illumined with the presence of God (Rev. 22:5).
Isaiah 43:7 “Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
John 17:22,23a “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity….”
Rom. 5:2 …through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.
Col. 1:25-27 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
2 Thess. 2:14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Last Things
The last things are:
- The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
- The Resurrection of the Dead
- The Great Judgment
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ
There is nothing that must be fulfilled before the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ Second Coming could be at any time and will be without any warning.
Many have asserted that a great apostasy must first occur and the antichrist must also be revealed, before the return of the Lord Jesus. But to maintain such a position renders the immediacy of Jesus’ return as misleading. If the nation of Israel must be converted first, the antichrist revealed, and if any number of other things must occur first, then the immediate return of Jesus Christ is not a possibility for the present. To maintain that certain things must occur first undermines any sense of urgency that should be felt.
As a moderate Preterist, I believe that certain prophecies have been fulfilled around the events of AD 70, when Rome sacked Jerusalem. The only literal prophecies to be fulfilled are Jesus’ return, the resurrection of the dead, and the great judgment.
The Resurrection of the Dead
Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, ‘will draw all men’ to Himself (John 12:32) upon the great day of the resurrection from the dead. Not a son or daughter of Adam will be missing and the sentence of the first death (i.e., physical death) will be fully abrogated for all time.
1 Cor. 15:26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
This universal reversal of the first death does not relate to spiritual death or to the second death. The second death is a fruition of spiritual death and is fully realised in the complete separation of a resurrected person from any experiential sense of God’s presence in hell. That death that is abolished by Jesus in 1 Cor. 15 relates only to the first death.
1 Cor. 15:21,22 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
In this sense, Jesus is the savior of all men (1 Tim. 4:10). He effectually makes all men alive from the first death. He does this by means of giving His flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). The resurrection of all men simply could not take place if Jesus’ death and resurrection were not universally effectual as an atonement for all sin. It is an impersonal atonement for those who are not members of Christ’s body by faith, and therefore, does not relate to the sinner’s spiritual death, which will fully eventuate in the second death in hell.
The abrogation of the first death by means of the general resurrection will make possible both the salvation of God’s people and the perfect judgment of those who have followed Satan’s rebellion. For God’s people, they will have their resurrected bodies glorified with that full manifestation of God’s glory. For the lost, their newly resurrected bodies will be able to fulfil the just demands of the Law, for sins committed in the body, requiring a punishment in which ‘their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:48).
The Great Judgment
Rev. 20:11-13 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
Heaven is that place of God’s glorious presence without the possible intrusion of what is evil. It is because of the corruption of creation, due to Adam’s fall, that the presence of God is not revealed in all of His glory and beauty. In creation there is but a glimmer of the God of glory, but in heaven there is the complete and unreserved manifestation of His glory and beauty.
If God were to manifest His glory without reservation upon this creation, then the opportunity to be saved would immediately cease for the opportunity to have faith will have ended, as we shall then behold God. For on the day that the heavens are rolled back as a scroll and the glory of God is manifested upon all the earth, the day of the Lord has come. It is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the glory of His Father, that will usher in the great judgement of all mankind.
Who are those who shall enter the joy and glory of heaven?
Revelation 21:27 – and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Only a saving faith in Jesus, here counted as having one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life, will enter into the joy and glory of heaven. Jesus spoke this to his disciples, while He was on earth [Luke 10:20,].
Revelation 22:14 – Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.
Here again is an expression that points us to Jesus Christ. Only Jesus can clean our robes with His righteousness [2 Cor. 5:21]. Our robes are washed by Jesus’ blood [Rev. 7:14] and we who have been baptised into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ [Gal. 3:27]. In one of Jesus’ parables regarding the kingdom of heaven, He likened heaven to a wedding feast and one man was cast out into hell for not having wedding clothes on [Matt. 22:11-13].
Is There Such a Thing as an Eternal Hell?
Rev. 20:14,15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Romans 2:5-11 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who be perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Acts 17:30,31 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man who He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The Scriptures are very clear that after the great judgment of all mankind, all those who are not in the book of life, will be thrown into hell.
The book of life is God’s record of all those who are in Christ Jesus. When the disciples marveled that they had power over demonic forces, Jesus said, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
What is Hell?
It is that most awesome and terrible place of God’s wrath upon sinners for their sins. It is a place of perfect punishment upon a sinner, for sins that have not been forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus.
2 Thess. 1:6-9 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
It is called the lake of fire, the Abyss, Gehenna, and Hades. It is that place where the second death reigns for all eternity. The second death is that complete and absolute separation of those made in the image of God from any experiential sense of God’s wonderful and life-giving presence. Those living upon God’s beautiful earth do enjoy the sense of God’s presence to some degree. Hell is that place where there is the horrific sense of complete abandonment from our Creator, Whose very being is our only sense of life and blessing.
Why Does Hell Exist?
Matt. 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels….’”
Hell is that place that was created for the devil and his angels. It was created in response to the rebellion of the demonic forces of evil, who had sinned against the immediate presence of God, without deception.
God never purposed that any of mankind might spend eternity in hell. The only reason any of Adam’s posterity will be in hell for all of eternity is because they have rejected God’s perfect and holy love for them and have followed Satan in his rebellion against God.
If God is a God of Love, How Could He Send People into an Eternal Hell?
On the contrary and surprising to our naturally carnal minds, the attribute of God that is the cause of hell is the attribute of God’s love.
Song of Solomon 8:6 ….For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.
The reason hell is a place of such extremity is because of the extremity of God’s love, which has been rejected by unthankful and wicked sinners. This negative side of God’s love is His wrath. God’s love is like an arrow, in that it is one directional. The attribute of God’s holiness gives His love its direction, as God’s love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). Those who stand in opposition to God’s holy love will smart for it. The wrath of God is not an attribute of God itself, but rather, an action of God that is derived from His unchanging love for all those who bear His image.
It is because God loves with a perfect and holy love for all those whom He has created to bear His image, that God’s wrath burns upon sinners who reject His love for them. It is unrequited love that fuels God’s response of wrath, understood as His unchanging love expressed in perfect harmony with the disposition of the sinner. If God did not love sinners then His wrath would not burn for eternity against those who have made it clear that they want nothing to do with Him. If God does not love sinners then He simply wouldn’t care whether or not they loved Him.
If God’s wrath were due solely to His holiness then there would be no delay. God’s wrath would simply fall upon sinners and there would be no patient enduring and striving with sinners. It is the love of God that is the source of God’s patience just as much as it is the source of His wrath.
Why Does an Infinite and Eternal God Punish Sinners with an Eternal Punishment for a Finite Amount of Sin?
Anselm of Canterbury argued that it was because the finite sins of men were against an infinite God that therefore justice could only be satisfied with an eternal punishment.
Another answer is to understand that God is not bound by time, as He created time. He is the great ‘I AM’, which is to say that He is that One who of Himself is completely autonomous in His own being. He is. That is, His being is not defined or determined by time. While for us finite beings, we cannot lay claim to being of an indefinite existence that just ‘is’.
Consequently, all of our sins, past and present, are always present time to an eternal God. They are all ever before His holy face! Those who reason that God would not be too concerned for sins once a lengthy period to time has passed, fail to appreciate God’s timelessness in regards to our sins. Furthermore, our sins, though committed in the past do have an on-going effect as the omission or commission of sin cannot be ignored or forgotten.
The good news of Jesus’ death upon the cross for sinners is that this carries the weight of an eternal redemption, because it also is apprehended by an eternal God that is a reality at all times present to Him.
- The church is the universal and invisible body of Christ
- Those who are members of the universal and invisible church are the only ones who are saved
- The gates of hell will never prevail against the universal and invisible church
1. The church is the universal and invisible body of Christ. The church is not a building, it is the people of God. Only one thing determines whether a person is a member of the true church of Christ – being united to Christ’s body by faith.
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.
Some have denied the universal and invisible church and assert that there are only local churches, such as among Landmark Baptists. This verse in Colossians shows that the body of Christ is the church. It cannot be denied that those who are members of Christ’s body are both in heaven and on the earth. If only local churches are counted the body of Christ, then this contradicts Paul the apostle’s teaching regarding the nature of the church.
2. Those who are members of the universal and invisible church are the only ones who are saved. Consequently, any visible expression of the church can never perfectly reflect the purity of the true assembly of God.
Hebrews 8:11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD, ’FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.”
Chapter eight of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, regarding the superiority of the New Covenant that is realised by the church. All the members of the church, according to the promise of Jeremiah, will ‘know the Lord’ so that none of them will need to say to another ‘know the Lord.’
3. The gates of hell will never prevail against the universal and invisible church
Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”
Jesus’ words cannot be in reference to the visible local assemblies, as countless ones have ceased to be. Where is the church that was Ephesus or the church that was Laodicea? Jesus’ words can only be in reference to that body of believers who are members of His body, whether on earth or in heaven, the universal and invisible church.
The form of church government of this Traditional Baptist Church plant is eldership rule. Meaning that those who are elders are in full possession of the ministry of the church. They lead in everything with only a unanimous consent among the eldership, in which each elder is of equal authority to the others. This form of church government may resemble the Presbyterian form of church government to some extent.
This will be the most likely significant difference to what most people would characterise as the form of government of a traditional baptist church. The dominant form of church government among most Baptist churches is congregational rule.
The Purpose of the Christian Ministry
Ephesians 4:11,12 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;
The authority possessed by the eldership is only to be for the good of the church. It is of particular concern to this endeavor to see churches planted that the ministry presented to the world is of such a nature that it is a witness of Christian love and selflessness. Too often pastors have been selfish and have not cared for the true needs of the flock as they ought to have done.
The Biblical Basis of Eldership Rule and its Scope and Limitations
Jesus Christ’s form of church government is monarchial. Jesus is our King and our Lord, not only as God, but also in an Adamic sense as the second Adam and in a Davidic sense as our Messiah. Elders are not kings themselves and they possess no authority in and of themselves. The sole authority in the church, as far as what is materially present, is the Word of God. An elder has no authority to declare what a person is to believe or do, except what is laid out in the Word of God. Hence, ministers are to give careful attention to what they teach [1 Tim. 4:16]. Paul the apostle did not impose an assumed apostolic authority over men, but emphasised the necessity that his hearers saw that the source of authority was to be found in the Scriptures, as in the case of those at Berea [Acts 17:11].
Consequently, elders are to be obedient to God’s Word as all of God’s people are. They are to be obedient to what is true doctrine and right practice. Yes, it is true that just as certain men will turn the grace of God into licentiousness [Jude 1:4], though the grace of God is properly taught, so also there will be the abuse of the role of the elder by men who lord it over the congregation [1 Pet. 5:3], though in a context of a right understanding of church government by eldership rule.
- Acts 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
- Acts 20:17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church.
- Titus 1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you
- Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.
- James 5:14 Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
- 1 Peter 5:5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.
To safeguard against the abuse of authority it is hoped that the following will help to promote what is good for the people of God:
- There is an emphasis on ministers of the gospel being for the benefit of the flock, rather than the other way around (i.e., Servant Leadership)
- There is a stated freedom of the membership to choose what ministry they believe God would have them to go to without censorship
- Churches are to have a plurality of elders, in which unanimous decision-making acts as a form of checks and balances against unbiblical and imbalanced decisions and abuse by one of the elders over the flock
Arguments Made For Congregational Rule
Many have argued that congregation rule is demonstrated in the selection of deacons in Acts 6. Quite the contrary, it is the apostles who give instruction to the congregation to select seven men of Godly reputation from among themselves, that the apostles might put in charge of the situation. The congregation obeyed. They did not come up with another possible solution as though they shared the form of church government. They did not choose six godly men or eight godly men, but seven godly men and the apostles were the ones who laid their hands upon them to commission them for the first deaconal task. The congregation did not have an open choice, but a clearly defined set of bounds in their choice of the first deacons. Hardly a defence of congregational rule.
There is also an argument made from those texts relating to church discipline, that are said to demonstrate a role of the congregation as part of the church government. Jesus instructs in Matthew 18:15-17, when all else fails, that an intractable brother guilty of sin is to be brought before the church. So it is also argued that Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 5 imply a leading role of the congregation regarding another brother guilty of sin that is inconsistent with salvation.
In both of the above texts regarding the discipline of professing believers, it must be observed that the congregation does not have a choice, other than to be obedient or disobedient to God’s Word. In Matthew, when the brother is brought before the congregation, if he does not listen he is to be counted an unbeliever. The congregation does not have a choice, unless they want to disobey Jesus’ commands for His church. In 1 Corinthians, Paul does not tell the congregation to take a vote with two boxes to check between ‘excommunicate’ and ‘not excommunicate’. He even tells them that the congregation has already been arrogant in not removing the man from their midst (vs.2) and that he has already judged the man and that they are now to excommunicate the man. Again, hardly a case for supporting some sort of congregational rule.
A Unified and Simple Designation of the Elder and the Simplicity of the Deaconate
The office of the elder should be synonymous with that of the pastor, overseer, or minister of the gospel. There is no place for a man to occupy a position of elder who is not a man called to be a minister of the gospel. Deacons are only to have a delegated authority for a limited purpose of getting things done regarding administration and maintenance, while elders rule as a body of ministers of the gospel. This alone will help to safeguard against men occupying a position of a ‘ruling elder’ who are not true ministers of the gospel.
The basis of belonging to the membership of this traditional Baptist church plant is a saving faith in Jesus Christ and a shared vision for the distinctives of what the church should be.
The purpose of membership is to:
- provide that greater heavenly membership an opportunity for earthly expression
- secure committed spiritual and practical support of the ministry
- promote genuine friendships in a context of mutual ministry, encouragement, and exhortation, among the members
- create a participation in Jesus’ kingdom on the earth, in a way that is beyond what we can do on our own
Membership in a Christian church is a public declaration of affiliation with a body believers in Christ Jesus. It is entered into freely and may be ended freely, with a due consideration of the church’s stated process of membership.
The Process of Becoming a Member: Meeting with the elders, Public Testimony, Enrolled in the Membership
Understanding that a saving faith in Christ and a shared vision for the distinctives of this church plant as essential to membership, any person wishing to become a member of this Traditional Baptist Church is invited to meet with the elders. The purpose of meeting with the elders (or church planter if there are no elders at present) is to assess, as much as is possible, the validity of a person’s profession of faith and his or her agreement with the doctrinal position of the church. As there is no need to rush these matters there is the mutual benefit for the elders and the person in question to have time to pray and to reflect over things, while one or more meetings may occur regarding the subject of membership. What is important during this period is a mutual sense of blessing and confirmation, as best as can be discerned, upon the prospect of membership.
The prospective member is then asked to give his or her personal testimony in the public assembly and to state publicly that they are in agreement with the distinctives and doctrinal position of the church.
Upon the same occasion of the personal testimony and doctrinal affirmation, the elders affirm the person’s membership with the church and prayer is made for the mutual benefit and blessing of the new member and the congregation, for so long as Christ would have it to last in that particular local assembly.
The Symbolic Nature of Membership
Here we must keep in mind that the local and visible church is only an imperfect reflection of that universal and invisible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Word of God says that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church [Matt. 16:18] it is referring to the universal and invisible body of believers, not of the local and visible expression. For there have been many local congregations that have disappeared or have been taken over by false doctrine. [Paragraph Used Elsewhere]
Furthermore, it is imperative that a right perspective be maintained in what membership is dominant. Some well-meaning Christians have so over-emphasised the importance of the local church that one cannot have any sound biblical reason for ceasing a membership at a local church. At the outset it needs to be understood that the local church membership reflects that higher and more important membership in heaven. Consequently, while the importance of local membership is deeply appreciated and valued, there is an even more deeply felt appreciation for that membership in which our names are recorded in heaven.
The implications of this are truly liberating and helpful to a Christian’s spiritual well-being. In light of Christ’s Kingdom being larger than any local assembly it is important to understand that every member’s membership with a local church must be set at liberty within Christ’s universal and invisible church. In other words, if a member believes that Christ would have him or her to cease the expression of their larger membership at this particular local expression, then in obedience to Christ he or she should do so. Ministers must utterly reject feelings of personal betrayal and disappointment and must rather cultivate within the assembly an understanding that promotes an awareness Christ’s greater interests.
If a member believes that they should change the place of their local membership, the assembly and leadership, though saddened to see friends depart, are to understand that their’s was the privilege for that season. Christ may lay it upon some member of the church that he is to go and do such and such and though he may be inclined to stay, he is nevertheless helped by the congregation and the elders to be obedient to Christ. Individuals and groups may be called upon by the Lord to participate in some other part of Christ’s Kingdom and there may be difficulty in leaving an already comfortable situation for a less than encouraging alternative. Only an enlightened leadership and a supportive congregation can help such Christians face the difficulties that Christ might set before them, when they would much rather remain where they are.
The imperative issue is the individual freedom of the believer to be where the Lord would have them to be, just as any minister would reserve the right to individually know, first and foremost, between himself and the Lord, where God would have him to be within Christ’s Kingdom.
The Process of Ceasing a Membership: Meeting with the elders, Public Testimony, Removed from the Membership
The same process must of necessity occur when one does believe that membership is to cease with the local fellowship that they are a member of. This is helpful to ensure that it is ended with the blessing of Christ. It need not take as long, but is not to be rushed when there is a perceived problem by the eldership between various members or with the departing member. In regard to wrongful reasons, the process will help guard against those caught up in sins that are inconsistent with salvation, such as hidden sexual infidelity. One cannot just drop their publicly acknowledged membership without an organisation’s due acknowledgment of it, upon a like public declaration of intent. This process with help to expose reasons that really need more addressing, rather than merely fulfilling some perceived need to escape tension or restraint.
The eldership does not possess any power to retain the membership of any person with a local church, as any person can just get up and leave. What the eldership can do is to seek to the best of their ability to mediate any negative relationships and to genuinely seek for the good of any who are seeking to depart. In the event of a sudden departure, without any consideration of the church’s process, the elders have at their discretion the option to cease the membership without any said blessing of Christ upon the departure. The elders also have the discretion to do the same for those who depart under the guise of sins that are inconsistent with salvation.
In regard to any departure under the blessing of Christ, such as a desire to seek out another place of service or teaching ministry, this process will demonstrate a wholesome and loving relationship between those whose mutual and ultimate membership is in heaven.
The only ordinances given by Jesus to the church are Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
They are both symbolic acts that are performed in the context of the church for the express purpose of conveying what is a reality for those who participate for the purpose of giving testimony and of being edified. Any sense in which the ordinances actually do something to the participant is totally rejected. Baptism does not sanctify the recipient or cause him or her to be born of the Spirit. The Lord’s Supper is not in any sense an eating of the actual flesh or drinking of the actual blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is entirely symbolic and is only possessed of any meaning to those who have personalised the truth that is in Jesus.
- Baptism symbolises a believer’s death, burial, and resurrection, in Jesus
- Only those who are believers in Jesus are to be baptised
- Only baptism by a whole and singular immersion, in the triune name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit [Matthew 28:19], is to be practiced and to be acknowledged as a Christian baptism
- Those seeking membership must be baptised by immersion and with the triune name, if not already done so by an evangelical Christian church
- The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance to those who are members of His body that Jesus’ righteousness and life is our only source of life
- The table is open to all those who profess that they are united to Christ by faith and that Jesus is their only hope of salvation
- Regarding the Lord’s Supper there is a common error in reference to the apostle Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 11.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
The context of this passage provides for us the essential understanding of what Paul meant when he said that some were drinking the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. It says in 1 Cor. 11:20-22 that the Corinthians were abusing the use of the Lord’s Table. It was because they were getting drunk and essentially not appreciating it for what it meant.
Many Christians have misinterpreted the warning in 1 Cor. 11:27-29, as though it addressed their imperfect sanctification. The Christian reasons to himself, “Oh, I haven’t prayed as I ought to have prayed this week” or “I’m just not the Christian I ought to be.” Consequently, many Christians and those presiding over the table have made the Lord’s Table a burden in that they have imported into it their own merit and sense of self-worth and righteousness.
The injunction by Paul is that a man is to ‘examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup’. In other words, his examining of himself, is that he is to rightly appreciate the importance of the Lord’s Table and then, in so doing, he is to eat and drink. Paul is addressing the brethren. He is not at all wanting the people of God to look introspectively at their own imperfections, but to do as the table requires, to look outside of themselves, even upon that very One to whom they are to remember, the Lord Jesus Christ, their righteousness.