Chapter 1 - The Doctrine of God

By the term “God” we mean the perfect, intelligent, conscious, moral Being existing from eternity, the Cause of all created things. This idea seems so natural that the majority of men accept it as self-evident truth without hesitating to give it any particular thought.
The writers of the Scriptures do not argue the existence of God. The first chapter of the Bible opens with the words, “In the beginning God,” and everywhere his being is assumed. The Scriptures do contain the revelation that he has made of his own nature and attributes. These attributes are so well understood and so generally acknowledged that I shall merely refer to them, not giving the multitude of texts by which they are set forth in the Scriptures.

His Attributes

1. Self-existence. “The Father hath life in himself” (John 5:26). “For with thee is the fountain of life” (Ps. 36:9). He is underived and inexhaustible.
2. Eternity. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Ps. 90:2). “The high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity” (Isa. 57:15).
3. Spirituality. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24).
4. Unity. There is one true and living God. “There is no God else beside me” (Isa. 45:21).
5. Immutability. “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). “The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).
6. Omnipresence. He is everywhere present. “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?” (Jer. 23:24). He is “not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:27-28).
7. Omniscience. He is all-knowing. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
8. Omnipotence. He has unlimited and universal power. “His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom. 1:20). “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26).
9. Wisdom. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever: for wisdom and might are his” (Dan. 2:20). “O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).
10. Holiness and truth. “I am holy” (I Pet. 1:16). “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Hab. 1:13). “God, that cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).
11. Justice. God demands righteousness of all his intelligent creatures, and he deals righteously with them. “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne” (Ps. 89:14). “In every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:35).
12. Goodness. He is benevolent, loving, merciful, and gracious. “The goodness of God” (Rom. 2:4). “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). “His mercy endureth forever” (Ps. 136:26). “The God of all grace” (I Pet. 5:10).
13. Faithfulness. “The Lord is faithful” (II Thess. 3:3). “Sara … judged him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11:11).

The Trinity

The theological term “Trinity” signifies the union of three Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—in the Godhead. This subject was a most fruitful source of theological controversy in past ages, and even at the present day there are professed Christians who deny the triune nature of God. Our present limits preclude an extended discussion of the matter, but I will bring forward a few points favorable to the doctrine of the Trinity.
Since the exact manner of existence in the Godhead manifestly lies above and beyond the range of mortal mind, the basis of our theology respecting God should be laid solely in what is revealed to us in the Holy Scriptures. And if we appeal directly to them, we find it is impossible to avoid the doctrine of the Trinity without doing great violence to scores of plain texts bearing on the subject. The course of argument is as follows:
1. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are represented as special Persons distinct from each other.
2. They are classed together, separate from all other beings.
3. Divine titles are applied to each.
4. Divine attributes are ascribed to each.
5. Divine works are attributed to each.
Yet there is only one God.
The Father. The word “Father,” referring to the Godhead, is used in Scripture in a twofold sense. First, it is applied to God without any personal distinctions. “Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation” (Ps. 89:26). (See also John 4:21, 23; and other texts.) Second, it is applied to God in contrast with Christ, who is thus distinguished as Son in his office of Redeemer. “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father” (Matt. 11:27). “Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). (See also Acts 2:32-33; Rom. 15:6; Gal. 1:1-4; and numerous other texts.)
The Son. The passages already cited show that Christ is a person distinct from the Father. The following facts prove scripturally that the Son is divine—equal with the Father himself:
1. Divine titles are applied to Him the same as to the Father. “Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom” (Heb. 1:18). “The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). “Emmanuel” (Matt. 1:23). (See also Acts 20:28; John 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Col. 2:9; Titus 1:3; I John 5:20; Rev. 17:14; and other texts.)
2. Divine attributes are ascribed to Him. The following attributes of God the Father are also ascribed to Jesus Christ
a) Pre-existence, or eternity. “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). “The second man is the Lord from heaven” (I Cor. 15:47). “That which was from the beginning” (I John 1:1). (See also Phil. 2:6-7; John 17:5; Mic. 5:2.) Likewise, in the Revelation Christ is represented by that symbolic title signifying eternity, “Alpha and Omega” (Rev. 22:13). Therefore the statement that Christ is the Son of God doubtless refers specifically to his miraculous virgin birth, thus denoting God’s special relation to him in his office work as the world’s Redeemer.
b) Omnipotence. “The government shall be upon his shoulder” (Isa. 9:6). “Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). (See also John 10:17-18; 11:25; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 1:3; II Tim. 1:10.)
c) Omnipresence. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20). “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (28:20).
d) Omniscience. “He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25). “Lord, thou knowest all things” (21:17). “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3).
Also, holiness, truth, justice, goodness and faithfulness are attributes of Christ. See also chapter 5, under subtitle “Evidences of Christ’s Deity.”
3. Divine works are ascribed to Him. The following works are ascribed to the Son:
a) Creation. “God … hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son … by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb. 1:1-2). “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (vs. 10). (Also John 1:3; Col. 1:16.)
b) Redemption. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7). This phase will be more fully considered later.
4. He is pre-eminent—above all things. “He is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). “Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). (See also Phil. 2:9; Col. 1:18; I Pet. 3:22.)
5. He is a proper object of devotion and worship. Though the Scriptures denounce idolatry and enjoin the worship of the one true and living God only, they set forth Christ as a proper object of devotion and worship. “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6). “All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). “And they worshipped him” (Luke 24:52). Saints “in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Cor. 1:2). “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Phil. 2:10).
The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is also divine and is a distinct person from the Father and the Son. He is called the “Spirit of God” (Rom. 8:9) because “he proceedeth from the Father” (John 15:26); also the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9), because he is sent to do the work of Christ.
1. His deity. His deity is shown by many texts. “It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:20). Compare Ezekiel 36:27 with Acts 2:17-18. (See also Acts 28:25; Rom. 8:14; I Cor. 3:16.)
2. His personality. The personality of the Holy Spirit is shown by the following facts:
a) He is associated with two other persons—Father and Son—as their equal. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19).
b) The personal pronoun “he” is applied to him, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).
c) Personal acts are ascribed to him. “He shall teach you all things” (John 14:26). “He shall testify of me” (15:26). (See also Acts 13:2, 4.)
d) Particular attributes are ascribed to him. For example, knowledge (I Cor. 2:11), will (12:11), power (Rom. 15:13).
3. His works. The works of the Holy Spirit are described as follows:
a) In creation. “In the beginning God created.… And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). (See also Job 33:4; 26:13; Ps. 104:30.)
b) In redemption. “Salvation through sanctification of the Spirit” (II Thess. 2:13). God gave “them the Holy Ghost … purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). “He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). (See also I John 3:24; Rom. 8:9, 14, 16.)
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are classed together, separately from all other beings, as divine. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (II Cor. 13:14). (See also Jude 20-21; I Pet. 1:2; Rom. 8:14-17; and others.)

God’s Works

The following creative acts are ascribed to God:
1. The creation of angels. “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength … hearkening unto the voice of his word” (Ps. 103:20). (See also Job 38:4, 7; II Thess. 1:7.)
2. The creation of the material universe. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
3. The creation of man. “So God created man in his own image” (Gen. 1:27).
Having created all things, God now controls and conserves all things in his vast universe in accordance with his own will. His intelligent creatures are made the subjects of a moral, providential government.

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