Doctrine of God 0001 - Lesson 1

  1. INTRODUCTION
    1. Importance of the Doctrine of God
      1. Extracts from sermon preached by Charles Spurgeon on January 7, 1855 (taken from the first chapter of Knowing God by J. I. Packer:
        1. “It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”
        2. “There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise.’ But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought that vain men would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God.”
        3. “But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe… The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity.”
        4. “And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”
      2. Extracts from the first chapter of The Trivialization of God by Donald W. McCullough:
        1. “Visit a church on Sunday morning—almost any will do—and you will likely find a congregation comfortably relating to a deity who fits nicely within precise doctrinal positions, or who lends almighty support to social crusades, or who conforms to individual spiritual experiences. But you will not likely find much awe or sense of mystery. The only sweaty palms will be those of the preacher unsure whether the sermon will go over; the only shaking knees will be those of the soloist about to sing the offertory.”
        2. “The New Testament warns us, “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29). But reverence and awe have often been replaced by a yawn of familiarity. The consuming fire has been domesticated into a candle flame, adding a bit of religious atmosphere, perhaps, but no heat, no blinding light, no power for purification.”
        3. “When the true story gets told, whether in the partial light of historical perspective or in the perfect light of eternity, it may well be revealed that the worst sin of the church at the end of the twentieth century has been the trivialization of God.”
    2. Models for the Study of the Doctrine of God
      1. Traditional model
        1. Built on concepts of Greek philosophy [see The Doctrine of God by John M. Frame (p.3-5)]
          1. Early Christian theologians developed their doctrine of God in response to Greek philosophy and Gnosticism. Although they denied much of the false teaching in these systems, they adopted the terminology and their modes of thought from these false systems instead of from the Bible.
          2. The Catholic theologian, Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274), systemized the earlier arguments with the logical forms of Aristotle and pseudo-Dionysius, a Neo-Platonist in thought.
          3. The Reformed theologians did little to alter the doctrine of God as it came down to them from the Roman Catholic Church.
        2. Tends to intellectual reasoning without much practical value for the lost man or for the believer.
      2. Liberal models
        1. Various systems built on modern concepts of truth: “the feeling of absolute dependence (Schleiermacher), the fatherhood of God (Harnack), the Word of God (Barth), the divine-human personal encounter (Brunner), existential self-understanding (Bultmann), the new Being (Tillich), the language event (Ebeling), holy history (Cullman), theological imagination (Kaufman), hope (Moltmann), liberation (Gutierrex and many others), the experience of women in a patriarchal setting (Elizabeth Johnson and other feminists), history (Pannenberg), community (Grenz), and the openness of God (Pinnock).” –from The Doctrine of God by John M. Frame (p.8). All of these systems depart from the concept as the word of God as the absolute authority for truth.
        2. These systems tend to support whatever social or practical program they are designed to support. They come up empty.
      3. Biblical model
        1. The doctrine of God must be determined from the direct teaching of the Bible. It must be accepted as the only absolute source of divine truth. All that it says about the doctrine of God must be accepted as true.
        2. The doctrine of God as taught in the Bible leads to:
          1. Salvation for the unbeliever
          2. Sanctification and service for the believer
    3. Sources for the Study of the Doctrine of God
      1. The Existence and Attributes of God , a two-volume work of around 1200 pages, written by the Puritan preacher Stephen Charnock (1628-1680). It is considered a major classic on the doctrine of God though it would be considered cumbersome by most modern readers. It contains much good thought.
      2. The Doctrine of God by Herman Bavinck (1854-1921), a Dutch Reformed theologian. Its translation into English by William Hendriksen is a very helpful work.
      3. The Doctrine of God: A Theology of Lordship by John M. Frame. A very rich and readable doctrinal book on God.
      4. The First Fundamental: God or, as later published, The God of the Bible. A basic, though uninspiring, introduction to the doctrine of God.
      5. Knowing God by J. I. Packer. This book is both doctrinal and practical. The reader learns much about God but is also encouraged to draw closer to God. This is a great first book about God and is highly recommended.
      6. The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. This book is highly recommended as a first book on the doctrine of God. It is shorter and more simply written than the book by Packer. It is also highly practical and devotional. This is a book for every believer. Also by Tozer: The Attributes of God: Volumes One and Two and The Pursuit of God.
      7. The God Who Is There and He is There and He is Not Silent by Francis A. Schaeffer. These books are for those with a more philosophical bent. They are unnecessary for the person who easily believes in God. However, for those who struggle with the concept and reality of God and especially those influenced by modern philosophies, these books are an excellent introduction about how to think about God.
      8. The God You Can Know by Dan DeHaan. This is a refreshing approach to the spiritual importance of knowing God.
      9. The Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity by Donald W. McCullough. Interesting and helpful exposition of what has happened to the doctrine of God in the modern churches and how this has destroyed the power of the churches.
      10. The Names of God by Nathan Stone. A classic study in the Old Testament names of God.
      11. The Trinity or, its earlier title, The Rock of Ages by Edward Henry Bickersteth. An earlier but excellent defense of the trinity.
      12. Multi-volume theological works that have excellent sections on the doctrine of God include Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer and Dogmatic Theology by William G. T. Shedd.
      13. The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel. A recent book looking at modern evidences for the Creator/God.
      14. Creating God in the Image of Man? By Norman L. Geisler. An excellent refutation of the “open view” of God. This modern teaching proposes that God is changing and does not know the future with any absolute certainty.
    4. Basic Outline of the Doctrine of God for this Course
      1. The knowledge of God
        1. What does it mean to know God?
        2. Why is knowing God so important?
        3. In what ways can we know God?
      2. The existence of God
        1. How should we think about the existence of God?
        2. How does the Bible approach the existence of God?
        3. What are the false concepts of God?
      3. The names of God
        1. What are the primary names of God in scripture?
        2. What are the major compound names of God?
        3. How does God proclaim His name?
        4. What do God’s names tell us about Him?
      4. The essence of God
        1. What makes up the essential nature of God?
        2. What does it mean that God is a Spirit?
        3. What does it mean that God is self-existent?
        4. What is the immensity of God?
      5. The attributes of God
        1. What is an attribute of God?
        2. What are the attributes of God’s greatness?
        3. What are the attributes of God’s goodness?
      6. The nature of God
        1. What does it mean to say that there is one God?
        2. What is the nature of the trinity?
      7. The works of God
        1. What are the primary works of God?
        2. What is the Bible teaching about the covenants of God?
        3. What work did God do before creation?
        4. What is the significance of the providence of God?
  2. THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
    1. The Importance of Knowing God
      1. Necessary for salvation
        1. To know God is identical with eternal life (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20)
        2. Both testaments distinguish between those who know God and those who do not know Him.
          1. Old Testament (1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 3:7; Job 18:21; Daniel 11:32; Hosea 5:4)
          2. New Testament (Galatians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:5; 2 Thesslonians 1:8; Titus 1:16; 1 John 4:6-8)
      2. More important than sacrifices (Hosea 6:6)
      3. To reject the knowledge of God is one of the greatest of sins (Hosea 4:1, 6; Romans 1:28)
      4. The only cause for glory in man (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
      5. The source of the riches of wisdom (Romans 11:33)
      6. The cure for the imaginations of the heart (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)
      7. The way to find the will of God (1 Chronicles 28:9; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9-10)
      8. The source of all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:2-4)
      9. The main subject that should be taught (2 Chronicles 30:22)
      10. The fullness of the future kingdom of God on earth (Isaiah 11:9)
    2. The Meaning of Knowing God
      1. By definition: to have an idea of the concept of God
      2. By existence; to positively believe in the existence of God
        1. The devils recognize the existence of God (Mark 1:24; James 2:19)
        2. The world can and should recognize the existence of God (1 Kings 8:60; Isaiah 37:20)
      3. By description; to understand the basic attributes of God
        1. Greater than all the gods (Exodus 18:11)
        2. Alone among the gods (Deuteronomy 4:35)
        3. To know the manner of the God of heaven (2 Kings 17:26)
      4. By fear; to respect the power of God and seek to avoid His judgment (Ezekiel 28:22)
        1. Known by the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 2:5)
        2. Exalted among the heathen (Psalm 46:10)
        3. Known by the judgment He executes (Ezekiel 13:9; Ezekiel 23:49; Ezekiel 28:22-26)
      5. By faith; to see the goodness of God and put faith in Him
        1. Because of the creation by the Lord (Psalm 100:3)
        2. Because of the provision of the Lord (Exodus 16:12; Deuteronomy 29:5-6; Joel 2:27)
        3. Because of the mercy of the Lord (Deuteronomy 7:9)
        4. Because of the deliverance of the Lord (1 Kings 20:28; Ezekiel 20:42-44; Ezekiel 34:28-30)
        5. Because of the preservation and restoration of Israel (Ezekiel 36:23; Ezekiel 39:27-28)
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:13

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.