Articles of Faith – God the Father

February 23, 2015

An Exposition of the Articles of Faith

Last time we considered the Trinity in our exposition of the Bible Fellowship Church’s Articles of Faith. Today, we’ll consider Article 3 – God the Father.

There is but one living and true God,1 immanent, transcendent, infinite in being and perfection, pure spirit,2 invisible, immutable,3 eternal, almighty, all wise,4 most holy, most free, most loving, most gracious, most merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin,5 the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, and withal most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin. He will by no means clear the guilty.

1 Isaiah 45:5-6
2 John 4:24
3 Malachi 3:6a
4 Romans 11:33-34
5 Exodus 34:6-7

Exposition

Following our exposition of the Trinity, we move on to consider the nature and attributes of, what we call, the first member of the Trinity: the Father. He is referred to as the Father simply because of his unique relationship to the Son. He takes priority as first, although all are equal in essence, because again, with regards to his relationship to the Son and the Spirit, whom proceeds from both.

As reminder of what we already considered with the Trinity, there is but one living and true God. In contrast to idols of stone, we worship a living God in whom there is no falsehood. Everything about God is living, and life-giving, and truthful. No deceit is found in him. The article then goes on to consider a number of his attributes:

  • Immanent – He is near his creation. God is present in all of creation. There is no place where God is not.
  • Transcendent – He is apart and above all of his creation. He is independent from all of his creation. All things are upheld by him and the whole universe exists to glorify him.
  • Infinite – God is not bound by the laws of physics. He cannot be held in the created universe.
  • Spirit – God has no body. He is not bound by our physical limitations.
  • Invisible – Since he has no body, he is unable to be seen.
  • Immutable – He never changes. His being and character and actions are completely and wholly and consistent from beginning to end.
  • Eternal – He has existed from eternity past (before time began), and will exist until eternity’s end (which is never).
  • Almighty – He is all-powerful. He can do anything within his character.
  • All-Wise – He is the embodiment of wisdom and skillfully and perfectly exercises knowledge in good and moral ways.
  • Most Holy – He is completely separate from anything that is sinful. God is absolutely perfect in his moral being.
  • Most Free – God is not bound to do anything because of man. He does as he pleases.
  • Most Loving – God’s love is boundless, to the point of his willingness to sacrifice his son for our redemption.
  • Most Gracious – God eternally gives us far more in reward than we can possibly deserve.
  • Most Merciful – God does not give us what we deserve as a manifestation of his benevolent character.
  • Longsuffering – God is eternally patient with his sinful creatures.
  • Abundant in Goodness and Truth – He is completely good and truth. There is no deviation in his character. He is always good and always true.
  • Forgiving – Despite our continued sinful treason against this eternal King, he time and time again forgives us that sin.
  • Rewarder – For those who seek after God, they will find the reward of his love, mercy, and grace.
  • Just, Hating Sin, Not Clearing the Guilty – While God is gracious and merciful, he simply does not excuse sin and wickedness. He does not simply forget about our sin and look past it, but instead, Christ faces our punishment in our place. He hates sin and therefore will punish it. If we are outside of Christ, we will face the judgment, but if we are in Christ, He does.
The Father is known through his attributes, revealed here in the AoF. If you want to know more of the Father, you study the Word of God to learn more about him revealed in his attributes. You will see, that we worship the true and living God who loves us and gives us mercy and grace. When we see him displayed in all his glory, how can we not say with the psalmist, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”
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The BFC Articles of Faith – The Trinity

February 9, 2015
We continue on with our exposition of the BFC Articles of Faith by looking at

Article 2 – The Trinity

There are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son,1 and the Holy Spirit.2 These three are one God,3 the same in substance, eternally equal in power and glory.

1 – Matthew 3:16-17; John 20:28
2 – Acts 5:3-4
3 – Genesis 1:1, 26; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14

Exposition

Following our discussion of the Scriptures as God’s direct revelation of God to man, we know can begin to understand the content of that revelation. Scripture presents for us a unique doctrine regarding the person of God. Out of all of the religions of the world, you have two approaches to the nature of God:

1) Polytheism – Multiple Gods (Hinduism for example)
2) Monotheism – One God (Islam for example)

And, while Christianity is a monotheistic religion, the uniqueness of it is, our one God is made up of three persons. Known as the Trinity, or perhaps, better, the Tri-unity of God, this fundamental doctrine of the faith is necessary to believe in order to identify with biblical Christianity. This concept, while taught in Scripture, is difficult for our finite man to grasp, and there is no way we will ever fully grasp the nature of the Trinity.

Our statement here starts off telling us that the God we worship is made up of three distinct persons, namely, the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. While we would defer to either one God or many Gods, historic Christianity reminds us that these three persons are one God. We don’t serve one God who at different times is different persons, or some other such heresy. We worship One God who has always and will always be Three Persons.

They are fundamentally the same in essence. One is not more God than the other. All three members are equally God. And not only are they equal in substance they are equal in power and glory. All of them possess the same power. The Father is not more powerful than the Son or the Son than the Spirit, etc.  They don’t always perform the same functions, but we will see how that plays out in the next three weeks.

Now, what bearing does this have upon how we live today? Let me recommend you read Kevin DeYoung’s helpful post, “The Doctrine of the Trinity: No Christianity Without it.” He does an excellent job of showing it’s importance!


70 Years into the Future

February 4, 2015

January 27 marked the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Perhaps nothing in our most recent history is filled with such evil as the systematic destruction of some 1.1 million people in this and other Death Camps. The vileness of raising one people’s importance over another to the extent of putting to death in the most horrific ways those whom are different is such that to even think about it brings one to shudder.

Yet, being seventy years out from the event, and especially as survivors of the horrific camps quickly pass away, we are at a constant threat of forgetting this most heinous act. Roman Kent, who as a survivor, made his way to Auschwitz for the anniversary told the people, “We survivors do not want our past to be our children’s future.” The old adage of those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it, is something that may bear truth. We are always potentially at risk of seeing the same atrocities committed because we forget that they once occurred long ago. The commission of evil against one another isn’t new. It goes back to the very beginning (Genesis 4:8). So, we must remain ever vigilant against these things by making sure we remember them.

I haven’t had the opportunity to be exposed to many of the holocaust memorials. Something inside me finds them to be such unpleasant places. And rightly they should be. For they memorialize the effects of evil. Even today, there are those, through their folly, that would articulate that the systematic eradication of a people group isn’t bad but good (Isaiah 5:20). I have been to one holocaust memorial in Moscow, Russia. Sculptors portrayed the death of the people in the Death Camps by showing a group of naked, emaciated people, slowly falling backward into the ground, and becoming tombstones. It is heart-breaking as it includes both adults and children, and shows that all that remains of them, other than the tombstones are subtle reminders of their life. A shoe. A hat. Glasses. A doll. I weep now just to think about it and to consider the atrocities that were committed. It was certainly not subtle. It was a bold, in your face, reminder that men kill other men. It was a reminder that these people, made in the image of God, were robbed not only of life, but of decency, health, joy, and were forced not just to die, but to become death itself. The memorial is both haunting and beautiful and it reminds us of the capability of evil which exists in all men (Jeremiah 17:9).

Yet, pushing seventy years from the event makes it less real for us. Something for history books. One day, there will be no survivors from the camps. And we will begin to forget. And our forgetting will make us wonder at how nations kill their own like in North Korea and China and Sudan. We will wonder at how terrorists planted throughout the world cowardly detonate bombs in large urban areas to do the greatest damage. We will wonder at how even we, in the land of the free, kill innocents acting as they are collateral damage as we serve as world police. We will wonder at the extent of our lack of care, even in our own back yard, for the weak and the marginalized; the alien, the widow, and the orphan.

Yet, we have no excuse to wonder. We have the evidence staring us in the face regarding the depravity of mankind. While some continue to imply that man is basically good, it seems, that from the historical evidence, man is basically depraved, battling wickedness and evil in their hearts and in the hearts of others. The memorials to such depraved acts of evil are still there. And they should remain there. Not only physically, but in our hearts and in our minds and in our consciences. That way, when we see fresh and new acts of evil and violence, like the beheading of journalists, we won’t be surprised. Instead, we’ll remember the acts of violence committed by mankind for generations and start afresh on, instead, striving for goodness and righteousness. A change of heart will be required (Ezekiel 36:26). But perhaps, just perhaps, a reminder like the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, will prompt us all to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly (Micah 6:8).


Book Review – Discovering Delight

February 2, 2015

Discovering Delight by Glenda Mathes (Reformation Heritage Books), is a needed book in a time of recent disparagement regarding the Law of God. Certainly there has always been debate about the Christian’s relationship to the Law, but recently there has been such an emphasis on grace that the concept of God’s Law has no relationship to the believer, and therefore is virtually considered negligible at the least, and morally evil at the worst. Mathes’ brief medications on God’s Law will rekindle your love for God’s law.

With a particular focus on Psalm 119 and other passages of Scripture regarding God’s Law, Mathes helps us to consider that the Christian need not fear the Law, but actually rejoice and love it. In a combination devotional/commentary, Mathes considers the context and provides exegesis for these passages and provides helpful application for the Christian today.

In particular, if you enjoy devotionals, but wish they went further in depth, this is the kind of volume for you. Mathes helpful analysis and application (with review questions), will provide for you a wonderful feast for you as you expound upon this beautiful Psalm and other related portions of God’s Word.


An Exposition of the BFC Articles of Faith

February 2, 2015
This Sunday past, we began our new member’s class at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church by beginning to look at our doctrinal statement, known as the Articles of Faith. I thought it might be helpful to think through, as a church, what we believe. So, I decided to spend the next 28 weeks walking through our doctrinal statement. Here I share it with all of you.

An Exposition of the Articles of Faith

Article 1 – The Holy Scriptures

1-1 The Holy Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are the inspired,1 infallible Word of God,2  a divine revelation, the original writings of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit.3 They are the supreme and final authority of faith and conduct.4

1-2 Inspiration is a special act of the Holy Spirit3 by which He guided the writers of the Scriptures so that their words would convey the thoughts He wished conveyed, would bear a proper relationship to the thoughts of the other inspired books, and would be kept free from error of fact, doctrine, and judgment.5

1-3 The Holy Scriptures, the written Word of God, are composed of all books of the Old Testament and New Testament, namely:

Old Testament
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah,Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, MalachiNew Testament
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I Thessalonians, II Thessalonians, I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John, Jude, Revelation
1 (2Tim. 3:15-17)
2 (Psa. 119:89), (John 10:35), (Isa. 40:8)
3 (2Pe. 1:21), (1Pe. 1:10,11), (1Cor. 2:12,13)
4 (John 17:17), (Luke 24:27,44), (Rev. 22:18,19)
5 (Mat. 5:17,18)

Exposition

We begin with the Bible because that is our source of information about God, man, sin and salvation. So, if we have a wrong view of the Bible, the rest of our theology will be skewed.

The article reminds us that these Scriptures are holy, as in free from sin, because they come from God Himself who is holy. They contain both the Old and the New Testaments. Some of us have a tendency to emphasize one over the other, whereas both are God’s revelation to man and both are vitally important for our study.

These Scriptures are inspired, meaning they are breathed out by God. They are the very real words of God communicated through His servants. They are therefore infallible, or that they are reliable and accurate and without error. They are a divine revelation in that they come directly from the mouth of God. And the original writings, in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, are inspired (breathed out by God) in their very words, not just in their concepts (verbally). This inspiration occurs by the power of the Holy Spirit as He comes upon men. Since they are from God Himself, that makes them the final arbiter (not men, but the Word of God alone) of what is true and right in matters of faith (what we believe) and conduct (how we live).

The article goes on to describe how inspiration occurred. By the work of the Holy Spirit, He directed men to write down Scripture with a particular purpose. If we consider that men are both fallible and make error, how could they write infallible, inerrant words? The Holy Spirit directed them to do this so that only what God wanted communicated would be written down, would be done in a way that all 66 books of the Bible forms a coherent whole, and would be kept free from error of any kind. This means that the Bible, translated and preserved for us in English, is the very Word of God, free from error in its original (translators can make mistakes) and therefore the Words of God for men to live by and to know the Living One, Jesus Christ.

The final aspect of the article emphasizes that it is the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments that are in the Bible. Not the apocrypha as is found in Roman Catholic Bibles (like Bel and the Dragon, 1 Maccabees, etc.) nor are the pseudepigrapha (false writings) that were written much later (like the Gospel of Thomas). Only the 66 books, as attested to by the early church, are the actual Word of God written down for mankind. Anything else is not part of the Bible.

Therefore, the Word of God, that we have translated and we hold in our hands is the very Word of God. It is living and breathing and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is both life-giving, and condemnatory, as it reveals to us both our sin and our need and provision for a Savior. As Alistair Begg has said, “if you want to hear from God, open your Bible.” Indeed. Open the Word of God and read it today!