THE TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Before Studying God, (prolegomena).
2. A Study of Knowing God, (revelation).
3. A Study of What God is Like and What God Does, (Theology).
4. A Study of God's Special Good Agents, (angelology).
5. A Study of God's Special Evil Agents, (demonology).
6. A Study of Humanity, (anthropology).
7. A Study of Sin, (harmartiology).
8. A Study of the Person of Christ, (Christology).
9. A Study of the Holy Spirit, (Pneumatology).
10. A Study of Salvation, (soteriology).
11. A Study of the Church, (ecclesiology).
12. A Study of Last Things, (eschatology).
1. BEFORE STUDYING GOD, (prolegomena)
What is Theology?
Theology is the study or science of God, his works, and his ongoing relationship with his works. More specifically stated it is the discipline which gives a systematic statement of Christian truth based on the Christian Scriptures. This statement is placed in the context of the current world situation using contemporary language with a goal to relate it to practical life issues. A good Christian theology is then Biblical, systematic, relevant, contemporary, and practical.
This paper is a systematic study of Christian doctrine. We have examined the Scriptures in order to declare facts about each of the eleven topics listed in the table of contents. Systematic Theology is dependent upon Biblical Theology which insists that all Bible passages be interpreted accurately. Systematic Theology is also dependent upon Historical Theology which insists that we must consider the observations and interpretations of Christian Theologians throughout history. And finally Systematic Theology is dependent upon Christian Philosophical Theology which insists that all Theology must coincide with reality.
Any religion or philosophy begins with presuppositions. These presuppositions are the beginning point or the foundation of the system of belief that follows. This paper explicitly begins with the presupposition that "There exists one all knowing, all powerful, loving, just, and holy God, whom created everything and whom all men have consciously rejected in favor of idols, who has revealed himself in nature, history, and human design, and in the 66 original inerrant autographs of the Old and New Testament Christian Scriptures, the source for all Christian belief and practice." This systematic Theology will be founded on this presupposition.
Theology and Philosophy
Understanding the possible relationships between Theology and human philosophy is important because it will have a radical effect upon our belief and practice of the truth. There are six main ways to intersect Theology and human philosophy. 1) Theology and human philosophy are opposed. Truth for the Christian's belief and practice is revealed only through the Scriptures and philosophy is useless. 2) Theology is the source of truth while human philosophy may contain truth, it can never bring truth greater than the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 3) Theological truth is revealed only through the Scripture, but human philosophy can be useful to elucidate this truth. 3) Theology can be established by human philosophy. 4) Theology must be proved by human philosophy. 5) Pragmatism, existentialism, analytical philosophy, process philosophy, or others provide the content for Theology. Our presupposition requires us to adopt number 2 as the relationship between Theology and human philosophy.
The Method of Theology
Various systematic Theologies have been developed through history by individuals and Christian groups. We contend that according to our presupposition there is only one truth because there is only one God and only one Scripture message from Him. Therefore differences among Christian theologies must be reduced to 1) both are right and there is miscommunication, 2) one is right and one is wrong, or 3) both are wrong. One's method of pursuing God, the knowledge of God, truth, and Bible fact needs to reflect our presupposition that there is one God and one Bible message. Thus our method in developing a good Christian Theology is 1) to insure our conclusions are in agreement with good Bible interpretation and that the Bible is the source of all our conclusions, 2) to insure that our conclusions have given consideration to Bible interpretations from other Christians throughout history since this paper or our conclusions are not infallible but only God and his word are infallible, and 3) to insure our conclusions are not in contradiction with the created world around us.
Theology and Critical Study of the Bible
Since our presupposition causes us to depend upon the Christian Scriptures we also need to speak about the various types of examination scholars have given to validate or invalidate the Scriptures. Form criticism for example attempts to answer the question as to how any given Bible text evolved from the original revelation to its current textual form. Redaction criticism as another example attempts to answer the question as to how the author or authors of the text in question acted to produce the current textual form. These are excellent sciences and can be useful for the defense of Christianity.
However, to guard against those attempting to undermine our presupposition and resultant Christian beliefs we also need to establish guidelines to evaluate Form, Redaction, and other types of critical studies of the Scriptural text. 1) Biblical criticisms which are against the miraculous are in error. 2) Biblical criticisms which use circular reasoning are in error. 3) Biblical criticisms which depend upon inferences are in error. 4) Biblical criticisms which are arbitrary or subjective are in error. 5) Biblical criticisms which presuppose that faith and reason are opposed are in error. 6) Biblical criticisms which multiply probabilities in order to make conclusions need to be exposed for what they are, less probable.
Contemporizing the Christian Message
Since we are declaring a systematic Christian Theology in this paper we also need to answer the question of what is the abiding essence of Christianity through history and how is this made contemporary in each culture. Various things have been suggested as the abiding essence of the Christian religion. These include 1) the presence of a visible Christian church, 2) acts of God throughout history, 3) the experiences of believers, 4) doctrines, and 5) the Christian way of life. We can trace any one of these things through the history of Christianity. In keeping with our presupposition, however, we believe the abiding essence of Christianity through the ages to be the presence of God the Holy Spirit and his word, the Bible, and this abiding essence is made contemporary when believers in the midst of their own culture and time period begin to believe and practice the Bible.
Theology and Its Language
Some have jeopardized the importance of truth in the Christian faith by suggesting that Christianity is something beyond propositional truth. We reject this idea and rather believe that the truths contained in the Christian Bible are essential to even bring love and change of heart into the Christian's life. Others have rejected the possibility of extracting truth from the Bible expressed in contemporary language in favor of locating seeming paradoxes and unexplainable mysteries from the Bible. We also reject this idea and assert that the Bible does express very clear and certain truth which we must believe and apply. Whatever continues to remain unclear should be prayerfully examined and discussed. And still others have chosen to adopt the language of particular theological systems without admitting its faults or acknowledging the truth contained in other Christian theologies. We believe the solution to this disunity is to encourage all Christians toward simplicity in expression of Biblical truth as well as favoring the use of Biblical terminology rather than the terminology from a particular Christian sect.
2. A STUDY OF KNOWING GOD, (revelation)
How can man know God? If man is to know God, God must reveal something of himself to man. And God has done this universally to all men and particularly to those men who have the Christian Scriptures.
God's Universal Revelation
Has God revealed something of himself universally to all people? Yes. God has revealed something of himself to each individual person that has ever lived through His creation. (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:18-20, Romans, Acts 14:17).
What has God revealed of himself universally to all people? The heavens and the skies declare the glory of God. God's invisible qualities, his eternal power, and divine nature have been clearly seen and understood from what has been made in creation. God does these things universally to all mankind. And God has also revealed himself in providence to each individual by determining every moment and the exact places each should live so that people would perhaps seek him. (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:18-20, Acts 14:17, Acts 17:26).
Can people be saved through God's universal revelation of himself? No. The knowledge of God given universally to all people is only enough for condemnation. The default status of all people under God's universal revelation of himself is condemnation. The salvation of individual men is received only through faith in Jesus Christ, as revealed in God's particular revelation, the Christian Scriptures. (John 3:17-18, Romans 2:12-16, Acts 4:8-12).
God's Particular Revelation The Christian Scriptures
Has God revealed himself particularly to some people? Yes. God has revealed himself universally to all people to some degree, but particularly to some people to a much greater degree. (Matthew 13:10-17).
What has God revealed of himself particularly to some people? God has revealed himself particularly to some men through miracles, prophets speaking on behalf of God, Jesus Christ, the testimonies of Christ's Apostles, and Scripture. (John 10:37-38, 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:1-4, Hebrews 2:1-4, Ephesians 2:19-22).
Does any person know God completely or perfectly? The Christian has the mind of Christ and so is able to make judgments about all things. And yet in another sense no one has known or even now knows the mind of the Lord. (Romans 11:33-36, 1 Corinthians 2:15-16).
Can people be saved through God's particular revelation of himself? Yes. Moreover God's particular revelation of Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to receive salvation. Those who receive Jesus Christ by faith will know they have eternal life. Those who reject Jesus Christ remain self-condemned. (Acts 4:8-12, John 14:6, Revelation 21:6-8).
Is God's particular revelation propositional or personal? God's particular revelation concerns propositional truth about the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ the Son of God, lived, died for our sins, was raised to life on the third day, appeared to the Apostles, and ascended to heaven where he intercedes for us to this day. Christian truth needs to point to the person of Jesus Christ. All efforts to demonstrate the love of Christ to others needs to point people to the person of Jesus Christ and not ourselves. Any ministry that does not point people to faith in the person of Jesus Christ is not Christian ministry. (1 Corinthians 15:1-11, 2 Corinthians 4:5, 1 John 2:6, 1 John 4:1-6)
The Preservation of Revelation: Inspiration
What is the inspired Word of God? The inspired Word of God is the 39 books of the Old Testament Scripture and the 27 books of the New Testament Scripture.
How has God inspired the Christian Scriptures? All Christian Scripture is God-breathed through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God effectively used human personality through the use of different men to write the Scriptures and yet all is equally inspired. The Spirit of Christ in men pointed to the suffering and glory of Christ. Men were carried along by the Holy Spirit, not their own will, as they prophesied the Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17, 1 Peter 1:10-12, 2 Peter 1:20-21).
To what extent are the Christian Scriptures inspired? The Christian Scriptures in the original autograph are fully and completely inspired. There is no Christian Scripture that is not inspired. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
How intensively are the Christian Scriptures inspired? The Christian Scriptures in the original autograph are fully and completely inspired in content, meaning, grammar, and word choice. There is no aspect of Christian Scripture that is not inspired. (Proverbs 30:5, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The Dependability of God's Word: Inerrancy
Are the Christian Scriptures inerrant? Yes. The inspired Word of God in the original autographs contains absolutely no error. (Psalm 18:30, Proverbs 30:5).
To what degree are the Christian Scriptures without error? There are absolutely no errors in the inspired Word of God in the original autograph in content, word choice, grammar, or meaning. (Psalm 18:30, Proverbs 30:5).
What about apparent errors in the Christian Scriptures? There do remain some unexplained inconsistencies in the Christian Scriptures. Since we do not have the original autographs, understanding the remaining inconsistencies awaits further archaeological and philological research as permitted by the Holy Spirit. (Acts 17:11).
The Power of God's Word: Authority
What is the authority of the Christian Scriptures? The Christian Scriptures possess authority to teach truth and to rebuke, correct, and train people in righteousness. The Christian Scriptures possess authority by virtue of their truthfulness and because they are from God himself. (1 Timothy 3:14-17, Hebrews 4:12-13, John 5:31-47).
How is the authority and truthfulness of the Christian Scriptures applied and illumined in the lives of believers? The authority and truthfulness of the Christian Scriptures are applied and illumined in the lives of believers through reading or hearing the Word of God and the illuminating word of the Holy Spirit. (John 5:24, Romans 10:17, Ephesians 1:13, 1 John 2:26-27).
Who can authoritatively interpret, teach, preach, and call others to submit to the authority of the Christian Scriptures? The Holy Spirit is the authoritative interpreter of Scripture. Every believer in Jesus Christ also receives the privilege and duty of knowing and teaching the truth. Every believer also has the obligation to accurately handle the Word of God. God also gives the special gift of pastoral and teaching ministry to some believers for the benefit of all believers. Pastors and teachers deserve double honor for their work, (Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Timothy 5:17, 2 Timothy 4:2, I John 2:27).
3. A STUDY OF WHAT GOD IS LIKE AND WHAT GOD DOES, (Theology)
Why study what God is like and what he does? Our presupposition is that there is a God who has created and cares for all things including ourselves. Since this is the case it is a very reasonable quest to know something about the God who has created us and cares for us.
WHAT GOD IS LIKE
The Greatness of God
What is the greatness of God? God is a spirit and thus absolutely spiritual, unique, and one in essence (Deuteronomy 6:4, 1 Timothy 6:13-16). God is personal and relates personally with his creation and we his people (Genesis 3, Exodus 3:14). God is alive and unlike mankind lives independently from any need for support (Exodus 3:14, Jeremiah 10:10, John 5:26). God is infinite and unlimitable in all his qualities including his eternality, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, sovereignty, and freedom (Psalm 145:3, Psalm 90:2, Psalm 139:7-12, Psalm 147:4-5, Ephesians 1:18-22, Psalm 115:3). God is constant with no quantitative or qualitative change in his nature or work ever (Psalm 102:27).
What is the extent of God's sovereignty? God is absolutely sovereign. There is absolutely nothing that is not under his rule. Absolutely everything is under his rule. Absolutely nothing resists his will. Everything he wills comes to pass and everything that comes to pass God has willed. God's sovereignty in Christian salvation is a major theme of the Christian Scriptures in that he saves whomever and whenever he chooses, (Romans 9:18-19).
The Goodness of God
What is the goodness of God? God is pure. God is pure in his holiness, (1 Peter 1:16). God is pure in his righteousness, (Jeremiah 9:24). God is pure in his justice, (Acts 10:34-35). God is also true. God is true because he is genuine, (Jeremiah 10:5-10). God is true because of his veracity, (Titus 1:2). God is true because of his faithfulness, (1 Thessalonians 5:24). And finally God is love. God's love is demonstrated by his benevolence, (John 3:16). God's love is demonstrated by his grace, (Ephesians 1:5-8). God's love is demonstrated by his mercy, (Matthew 9:36). And God's love is demonstrated by his persistence, (2 Peter 3:9).
God's Nearness and Distance: Immanence and Transcendence
Is God present, immanent, within nature, human nature, and history? Yes. God is personally present through his own character and will in every detail of nature, human nature, and history. There is no aspect of nature, human nature, and history in which God is not expressing his own character and will, (Jeremiah 23:24, Acts 17:24-28, Colossians 1:15-17).
Is God separate and independent from his creation, transcendent? Yes. God is separate from his creation. He is the creator of his creation. The creation is not God and God is not the creation. God is also independent from his creation. God does not need his creation. His creation is dependent upon Him absolutely while he is independent from His creation. Thus God himself is to be worshiped and praised for his interest in the creation, (Psalm 113:5-6, Isaiah 55:8-9, John 8:23, Romans 1:21-23).
God's Three-in-Oneness: The Trinity
Is God one? Yes. God is one and there is only one God and he alone is the object of our worship, (Exodus 20:2-3, Deuteronomy 6:4).
Is God three persons? Yes. There is one God existing in three persons. God the father, one person in the trinity, is very God, (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). God the son, another person in the trinity, is very God, (Philippians 2:5-11). God the Holy Spirit, the third person in the trinity, is very God, (Acts 5:3-4). All three persons of the one God share equally the attributes of God, though with different functions in creation, providence, and redemption.
WHAT GOD DOES
What is at the center of God's plan? The person and work of Jesus Christ are at the center of God's plan. In His person Jesus Christ is the revelation of the character of God to mankind. In His work Jesus Christ is the head of the church, (Ephesians 3:1-13).
What are the characteristics of God's plan? God's plan for Christ and all else has been planned entirely in eternity past. God acted freely and was not constrained by anything or anyone in his plan. The purpose of God's plan is his own glory. There is not one material object or event that is not part of God's plan. His plan is all-inclusive. God's plan is also efficacious and guaranteed to come to pass. God's plan speaks of his actions resulting from his nature. The components of God's plan include creating, preserving, directing, and redeeming. Man's existence, thoughts, and actions are also all part of God's providential plan. God's plan is unchangeable, (Numbers 11:23, Psalm 148:1-6, Isaiah 14:24, Isaiah 25:1, Isaiah 46:11).
What is logically prior God's plan or men's decisions? Each individual person has a will with which they are able to think, act, will and make decisions. And at the same time no one exists, thinks, acts, wills, or makes a decision without God's prior willing. The great and good God has willed everything that has ever happened in the world's history and each individual's personal history for the greater good and His own glory. God's plan and will are logically prior to man's will and decisions. Everything that man does has been brought to pass because of God's will, (John 15:16, Romans 9:18-19).
What are the decrees of God? The eternal purpose and decrees of God are the set of events and purposes which God has determined in eternity past according to the counsel of His own will. Much is hidden regarding a logical priority in the eternal decrees of God. However, we know that there is an temporal priority essential in the gospel, namely that God has decreed the effectual salvation of the elect before he even created the world. (Romans 11:33-34, Ephesians 1:3-10).
What is God's eternal purpose for this age? God's eternal purpose is that the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms through the church, the body of believers in Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 3:10-11).
God's Originating Work: Creation
What did God create? God created everything that ever has existed, exists, or will exist. God also sustains the existence of everything. (Nehemiah 9:6, John 1:3, Acts 17:24, Colossians 1:16).
How did God create everything? God created everything that exists from nothing. God created everything that exists in six days as recorded in Genesis chapter one, (Genesis 1:1-2:3, John 1:3).
What is the capstone and hierarchy of creation? First, God is sovereign over all creation. Second, mankind is the capstone of God's creation. God created man in his own image and instructed him to rule over the entire creation. God created woman from man as a suitable helper for man. Mankind is subject only to God and the creation is subject to man. Within the domain of Mankind woman is helper to man. Third, the creation is for mankind's enjoyment and God's glory. (Genesis 1:26).
What is God's purpose in creation? God's purpose is the promotion of His own glory in the salvation of man, the demonstration of His grace. (Romans 11:32-36, Ephesians 2:6-7).
God's Continuing Work: Providence
What is providence? Providence is God actively willing all that comes to pass. (Acts 17:24-31).
How does God work in providence? God holds all things together, from atomic particles to governments and nations to solar systems and galaxies. God cares for mankind to bring them to His intended purpose. God wills all events and the decisions of men to glorify himself through the obedience of His chosen servants in every situation. God has determined even every moment and the places that each person lives so that they would recognize their need and seek God. (Esther 4:14-16, Acts 17:24-31, Colossians 1:17).
What is the capstone of God's providential work? The death of Jesus Christ for our sin and the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our justification, (Acts 2:22-23, Acts 4:27-31).
What is the future goal of God's providential work? Jesus Christ is building his church on the foundation of the Apostles and prophets who testify to nature and work of Jesus Christ. God plans to increase his church in number and perfect the church's representation of himself in the world. God's purpose is to prepare believers for battle with Satan, his demons, and his evil influence upon the world. The church is a first fruit of Christ's work with elect mankind being the remaining fruit. Christ himself will return from heaven to earth and in an instant believers in Christ will be changed to reflect his image and glory to rule with Christ. All mankind will then be finally saved at the Great White Throne Judgment while Satan and his demons will be sentenced to the Lake of Fire, (Ephesians 3:1-13, Matthew 11:12, Romans 11:16, 1 Corinthians 15:20-52, Revelation 20:7-10, Revelation 21:6-8).
What is God's purpose in providence? God's purpose is the promotion of His own glory in the salvation of mankind, the demonstration of His grace. (Acts 17:24-31, Ephesians 2:6-7).
Evil and God's World: A Special Problem
Are Satan and his evil demons subject to the will of God? Yes. Satan and his evil demons only ever do what God has already determined that they do. They willingly purpose evil, but God's purpose is only ever the greater good through permitting their evil actions. God's sovereignty and wisdom are demonstrated in no more amazing way to us in that God can use evil for the greater good, (Job 1:6-12).
Again has God ordained both all the good and evil events in history and the good and evil actions of individual men? Yes. (Romans 9:18-19, Romans 11:32-36).
What is an example of God using an evil scheme of Satan for greater good? The crucifixion of Jesus Christ, (Acts 4:27-31).
Is God guilty of sin in ordaining all the evil events in history? No. God is perfect and without sin. He does not tempt man to sin nor is He tempted to sin. (Matthew 5:48, Romans 11:32-36, James 1:13).
Is God the cause of evil? God is sovereign over the universe and the whole of history, both good and evil, yet the evil acts of fallen angels and fallen men proceed directly from their own evil nature, (James 1:13).
Is God cupable in the decree of Satan's and subsequently man's fall into sin and bondage to the sinful nature? No, (Romans 9:19-24).
Can man will evil and remain innocent or blame God? No. Wisdom of this nature is only possessed by God. Though God wills all that comes to pass, even the sin of men, each man has exercised his own will in sinning and is accountable to God for his sin. The sovereignty of God in good and evil events and the responsibility of man for his own sin are both always true. (Romans 9:18-24, Romans 11:32-36, James 1:13-18).
Are further evil schemes of Satan prophesied in the Christian Scriptures and what is God's good purpose in ordaining this evil? Yes. Satan himself is bound and then loosed again upon the earth in order to deceive the nations and gather them for battle against the camp of God. God's good purpose is to sanctify believers, perfect the faith of believers, and demonstrate His own grace and nature in believers to the objects of His wrath, (John 17:17-19, James 1:2-4, Revelation 20:7-10).
What should be mankind's response to this truth? Mankind should fear of God because of His willingness to forgive every sin, even hatred towards Himself. Mankind should pray that God would keep us from temptation and deliver us from Satan. Mankind should be amazed at the unsearchability of God's judgments and worship God, (Psalm 130:4, Matthew 6:13, Romans 11:32-36).
4. A STUDY OF GOD'S SPECIAL GOOD AGENTS, (angelology)
What are God's special good agents, angels? The Christian Scriptures explain that we are not the only living beings created by God. God has also created good angels for his glory and our care and protection. Thus it is good for us to know something about these beings.
Origin, Nature, and Status
Are angels created? Angels were created by God. They are subject to Him and owe Him worship the same as mankind. (Psalm 148:1-6).
What is the nature of angels? Angels are created beings, purely spiritual, invisible, without marriage, eternal. They may assume bodies for the benefit of presenting themselves and their message to mankind. They are people, but not human. All manifestations of angels in the Bible appear to be male, (Matthew 22:30, Luke 1:11-12, Luke 20:36, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:14).
What is the status of angels? Angels are subject to God. During Jesus Christ's life he could have asked God the Father for angels to do his bidding, but did not. Angels did, however, minister to Christ. Angels are not subject to mankind, but they are ministering spirits to mankind. Mankind is also not subject to angels, but angels are messengers of God's bidding to mankind. Angels are not to be worshiped, (Psalm 148:1-6, Matthew 4:11, Matthew 26:53, Colossians 1:18, Hebrews 1:14, Hebrews 2:2).
What is the appearance of angels? Angels are usually invisible to us though they are in reality all around us. Angels can assume a physical body to appear to man. Sometimes the glory of the Lord shines from them. (Genesis 18:2, Genesis 16, Genesis 22, Numbers 22:31, 2 Kings 6:17, Luke 2:9).
Their Capabilities And Powers
What capabilities and powers do angels have? They have intelligence and will. The are moral creatures with some described as holy. They are people. Fallen angels have lied and sinned. They may have super-human knowledge, but their knowledge is finite. They also have great power over God's creation, men and material. But angels like ourselves have nothing apart from what God himself works in and through them, (2 Samuel 14:20, 2 Chronicles 32:21, Matthew 24:36, Mark 8:38, Luke 1:26, Luke 12:8, Galatians 3:19, 1 Peter 1:12, 2 Peter 2:11, Revelation 22:9).
How are angels organized? Angels have been given the titles of Principalities, Powers, Authorities, Dominions, and Thrones. There are archangels with authority or position over other angels. There are Cherubim and Seraphim, (Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 2:15, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Jude 9).
What are the activities of angels? Angels praise and glorify God. Angels serve as messengers from God to man, particularly in mediating the law. Angels minister to believers. Angels execute judgment upon the enemies of God. Angels are participants in the rapture and coming of Christ. Apparently people are assigned "guardian" angels, (2 Kings 19:35, Psalm 103:20, Matthew 18:10, Matthew 25:31, Acts 5:19, Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19, Hebrews 2:2).
5. A STUDY OF GOD'S SPECIAL EVIL AGENTS, (demonology)
What are God's special evil agents, Satan and demons? The Christian Scriptures explain that of the angels God created some have fallen into evil with evil intents toward God and humanity. Thus it is good for us to know something about these evil angels as well.
The Origin Of Demons
What is the origin of Satan and demons, the evil angels? The evil angels were created by God, but have fallen into sin and the judgment of God. They are people, but not human. God does not spare even angels when they sin. Instead they lose their position with God and are cast away from God's presence, (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6).
The Chiefs Of The Demons
Who is the chief of demons, Satan, and what purpose does he serve for God? The chief of all the demons is known by the name of devil, adversary, accuser, Beelzebub, evil one, great dragon, father of lies, murderer, and sinner. Satan is a demon, the chief of fallen angels. Satan's primary role is to oppose God and the work of Christ especially by tempting man. Satan's primary tool in this work is deception. Satan cannot do one thing that God does not expressly permit. Christians can also resist him and he will flee, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 4:3, Matthew 12:24, Matthew 13:39, Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, 1 Thessalonians 3:5, James 4:7, 1 John 2:13, Revelation 12:9, Revelation 12:10).
The Beast and The False Prophet of Revelation are partners with Satan in leadership of the fallen angels. They likewise are fallen angels exercising leadership with Satan as their head over all the fallen angels. Only Satan, The Beast, and The False Prophet are explicitly named as destined to the Lake of Fire, which is prepared for the Devil and his angels, (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 16:13, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10).
Activities Of Demons
What are the activities of demons? Demons are the subjects of Satan the chief demon and have joined him in his rebellion against God. Demons carry out Satan's mischief in the world. Demons inflict disease, dumbness, deafness, blindness, convulsions, paralysis, and lameness. Most significantly they oppose the spiritual progress of Christ's family, (Matthew 12:22, Mark 1:26, Mark 9:17, Mark 9:25, Ephesians 6:12).
What is demon possession? This is when a demon takes special control over a human being intending harm, though still under God's superintending sovereignty. A demon possessed person may have unusual strength. They may act in bizarre ways such as wearing no clothes or living among tombs. They may engage in destructive behavior. There appear to even be degrees of affliction. Demons can inhabit animals. Jesus both healed and cast out demons. Not all healings were demon possession. Epilepsy was not mistaken for demon possession. Jesus cast out demons with no elaborate formula and attributed the exorcism to the Spirit of God, (Matthew 4:24, Matthew 8, Matthew 12:28, Matthew 12:45, Matthew 17:15, Mark 5:2-4, Luke 8:27, Luke 13:32).
Can Christians be demon possessed? The Christian cannot be demon possessed. Though Christ may permit Satan to work limited evil for a time in a Christian, the Christian's heart is ruled by Christ and not demons, (Luke 22:24-34, Romans 8:38-39, 1 Corinthians 10:19-21, 1 Timothy 4:1).
What is spiritual warfare and should Christians engage in battle against Satan or demons? Spiritual warfare is the activity described in Ephesians 6:10-20. Christians are also encouraged to resist the devil and he will flee from us. But we are also reminded that Satan is the Lord's enemy and even Michael the archangel did not rebuke the devil directly but only in the name of the Lord, (Ephesians 6:10-20, James 4:7, Jude 8-9).
The Destiny Of Satan And The Demons
What is the destiny of Satan and demons, the evil angels? The Beast and The False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire at the beginning of Christ's Kingdom. Satan is bound and then released for a time to gather the nations against the camp of God. After this final battle between Satan and Christ's family, Satan and his demons are cast into the Lake of Fire for The Ages of The Ages. The Lake of Fire is prepared for the Devil and his Angels and not prepared for mankind, (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 19:20, Revelation 20:10).
6. A STUDY OF HUMANITY, (anthropology)
What is the form, substance, quality, and essence of a person? Christianity is a very thorough religion in that we also require a study of the nature of mankind.
Introduction to the Doctrine of Humanity
Why is the study of humanity important? The study of humanity is important because man is the highest of God's creatures thus humanity reveals the most about God's work and of God himself. The Bible reveals that only man has been made in God's own image and likeness. The study of humanity also reveals more about the person of Christ, because Christ took on human nature. And finally the study of humanity of course is our personal vantage point for the study of all the other aspects of theology, because we ourselves are human, (Genesis 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 13:12, Philippians 2:5-11).
What is the Christian view of man? Man is a creature, made in the image of God, created by a purposeful conscious act of God for the purpose of bringing glory to God, (Genesis 1:26-27, Romans 11:33-36).
The Origin of Humanity
What is the origin of humanity? All of humanity is descended from the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, who's lives are recorded in Genesis 1-4. God created all that exists in six days and created man on the sixth day. God created everything that exists out of nothing. God created everything that exists for the promotion of his own glory, (Genesis 1-4).
How did God create the first man and the first woman? God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. God formed a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, (Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:22).
How did God create the large populations of mankind? All humanity in existence today is physically descended from the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve, created by God in the garden of Eden on the sixth day of creation, (Acts 17:26).
What can we conclude from man's creation? Man has no independent existence. Rather man is dependent completely upon God. Man is part of the creation itself. Man also has a unique place in creation because man is instructed to have dominion over creation. All mankind share a physical brotherhood, though only those in Christ share spiritual brotherhood. Man is not the highest object in the universe. God is the highest being. Man has limitations physically and temporally. And finally man is a wonderful creation of God, (Genesis 1:27-30, Psalm 100:3-5, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
The Image of God in the Human
Is the image of God universal to all humanity? Yes all men and women regardless of race and faith possess the image of God, (Genesis 9:6, James 3:9-10).
Was the image of God in humanity lost due to sin? No. The image of God is still present universally in all humanity, though it is obscured because of sin, (Genesis 9:6, James 3:9-10).
What is the image of God in the human? I feel the primary image of God in mankind is God's character reflected in man, man's dominion over creation, and man's ability to develop relationship, be in union, with God and one another, (Genesis 1:27-30, Psalm 37:1-9).
How is sinful man able to reflect the image of God? It is only in Christ that sinful man is able to reflect the image of God. All Christians are commanded to pattern their lives after Jesus Christ who is the perfect human representation of the image of God, (2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 John 2:6).
The Constitutional Nature of the Human
Is man constituted of one or many elements? The Scriptures speak of the human spirit, soul, and body. Hebrews also testifies that God's word is so precise as to be able to distinguish between the soul and the spirit of man. And yet man is one being created by God as very good. No element of man's constitution was originally evil, (1 Thessalonians 5:23, Hebrews 4:12).
What is the future for each individual human being's constitution? Man's constitution while living on this earth is body, soul, and spirit in one being. Upon death the body dies and returns to the earth while the soul and spirit, disembodied, return to God. At the resurrection the soul and spirit of the redeemed will be joined again to a new body. The new body will be imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual, (Acts 24:15, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, Revelation 20:11-15).
The Universality of Humanity
Who is included in humanity? Every individual human. All of humanity is human and thus is under God's protection as a creature of God made in his image. This includes all human races, both sexes, humans of all economic status, young and old, the unborn from conception, married and unmarried, and Christian and non-Christian, (Genesis 9:6, Isaiah 1:17).
How is all humanity to be treated by Christians? We are to demonstrate the compassion of Christ to all mankind as God gives us the grace and opportunity, (Matthew 9:36).
How is believing humanity to be treated by Christians? We are to do good to all men, but especially to the family of believers, (Galatians 6:10).
How is unbelieving humanity to be treated by Christians? We are to be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. We are also to treat all humans without favoritism just as God relates to humanity, (James 2:1-13, Jude 22-23).
7. A STUDY OF SIN, (harmartiology)
What is sin? The Bible declares that every individual man has sinned. We need to learn what sin is and how it effects man's relationship with God and with other men.
The Nature of Sin
Why is the study of sin important? Sin is mankind's main, only, and constant dilemma in his relationship with God his creator. It is because of our sin that we unable to stand by ourselves before a holy, righteous, and just God, (Ezra 9:15).
What are Biblical terms for sin? Innocent ignorance. Culpable ignorance. Error. Inattention. Determining to miss the mark. Irreligion. Transgression. Iniquity. Rebellion. Treachery. Perversion. Abomination. (Leviticus 19:15, Numbers 14:41-42, Deuteronomy 7:25-26, Joshua 7:1, 1 Samuel 26:21, Isaiah 1:2, Isaiah 21:3, Isaiah 53:12, Acts 17:30, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 4:18, Hebrews 2:2-3).
What is sin? The failure to fulfill both God's law in love, worship, and obedience and the spirit of his law primarily because of refusal to trust God, (Hebrews 10:38).
The Source of Sin
What is the source of sin in mankind? Each individual human is tempted, lured, and enticed into sinful thoughts and actions by his own evil nature and is personally responsible for his own sin. Sin is the choice of the person who commits it, (James 1:14-15).
What is original sin? The first and original sin occurred when the Adam and Eve chose to disobey the command of God and eat from the forbidden tree. And in this way sin entered the world and the punishment of death came to Adam and Eve and to all mankind, because all have sinned, (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12-21).
How did Adam and Eve sin for God created them very good? God himself has bound all mankind, including the first man and woman, over to disobedience and yet is free from sin, resulting in each individual being a sinner by their very nature, (Genesis 1, Romans 11:32, James 1:13-15).
What is the cure for sin? Natural man will never love, worship, or obey God, but will only ever worship idols and self, and act according to their own sinful nature. A supernatural work of God is required in the nature of the individual in order to change the sinful nature through the gospel message, the Scriptures, the prayers of Christ's family, and the Holy Spirit, (Romans 8:5-11, 1 John 3:9).
The Results of Sin
What is the result of sin with respect to God? The sinner is in disfavor and alienation from God. The sinner is guilty under the judgment of God. The sinner receives punishment from God. The sinner dies physically at the hand of God, (Genesis 3:3, Hosea 9:15, John 9:41, Hebrews 2:2-3).
What is the result of sin with respect to the sinner? Restlessness. Evil times. Guilt. Trouble. Enslavement, habit, and addiction. Flight from reality, for example avoiding thoughts of death and judgment. Denial of sin. Self-deceit. Insensitivity. Self-centeredness. (Genesis 3:11, Job 3:17, Proverbs 22:8, Jeremiah 17:9, Amos 6:3, Romans 6:17, 1 Corinthians 11:27, 1 Timothy 4:2, Hebrews 9:27).
What is the result of sin in human relationships? The proliferation of competition. Inability to empathize. Rejection of authority. Inability to love, (Romans 13:2, Philippians 2:3-5, James 4:1-2, 1 John 3:17).
The Magnitude of Sin
What is the extent of sin within mankind? The sinfulness of mankind is universal. Every individual has sinned against God, (1 Kings 8:46, Psalm 143:2, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:23).
What is the intensiveness of sin within the individual? The sinfulness of every individual person is to such an extent that man cannot even understand his own heart. Each person has not sinned completely in every way, but certainly every aspect of a person's nature is sinful and sinful to the degree that apart from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, sin and evil will dominate the individual. Man is totally depraved in sinfulness, (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:10-18).
The Social Dimension of Sin
What is social sin? We have primarily addressed the sinful thoughts and actions of individuals. However, there are also sinful groups, policies, ideologies, and governments, (Ephesians 6:12).
Why is social sin difficult to recognize? We overlook deeds for which we are not directly responsible for or involved with. Our membership within a particular group affects our perception of the group. Group misdirection may not be correctly observed because of admirable loyalty and zeal within the group, (1 Corinthians 15:33).
What are the social areas of sin? The World, that part of mankind that is not part of the body of Christ on this earth, is a tremendous source of social sin. There are also unseen powers at work in the world such as the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms that result in social sin in the world. And finally there are organizations of men that promote social sin even of a religious nature such as the circumcision group of Apostle Paul's day, (Galatians 4:17, Ephesians 6:10-12, 1 John 2:15-17).
How should the Christian fight social sin? The Christian should be in the world as salt and light but not of the world or its sinful social systems. The Christian should put on the armor of God to fight these battles using truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Christian scriptures, and prayer, (Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, 2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
How should the Christian not fight social sin? A Christian should not use the world's means such as litigation or the roles given by God to this world's governments such as warfare and capital punishment, (Matthew 26:52, 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, Romans 13:1-5).
8. A STUDY OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST, (Christology)
Who is Jesus Christ? In a previous study we have learned that God is revealed to us in three persons. We need to closely examine Jesus Christ as he is the focal point of the Christian faith.
Contemporary Issues in the methods of studying Christ
How can one know who Jesus Christ was historically? The historical life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ can be known through study of the Christian Scriptures, (John 20:31).
How can one know Jesus Christ personally and place faith in Him today? Anyone who has come to know Jesus Christ historically is also free to believe that Jesus Christ is truly the savior of mankind and that He died for our sins and that Jesus Christ is truly the Lord of all creation and mankind and thus receive salvation, (John 9:35-37, Romans 10:5-13).
What is the essence of Christ's message to mankind? The teachings of Jesus Christ assert that the grace of Christ is the only way to be saved from sin and condemnation, which is received through faith. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave proves his power and authority to save His people and proves that He is Lord of all. Jesus Christ's crucifixion demonstrates that mankind's sin is indeed a terrible rebellion against God. Jesus Christ's words of forgiveness from the cross and subsequent resurrection proves that He has forgiven all mankind's rebellion, (Romans 4:25, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, 1 Corinthians 15:3-7).
The Deity of Christ
Is Jesus Christ fully God? Yes. Jesus confessed to be the Christ, (Mark 2:27-28, John 1:1, Romans 9:5, Philippians 2:6-11, Colossians 1:15-20).
Is embracing Jesus Christ as God essential to salvation? Yes. If Jesus Christ is not God His death and resurrection are nothing more than a martyr's death and a miraculous resurrection. However, since Jesus Christ is God Christians are able to know the truth that the crucifixion demonstrates, that sin itself is opposition to the nature of God expressed in Jesus Christ. Christians also have the hope that since Jesus Christ is God that His proclamation of forgiveness is trustworthy and His atoning death for sin effective, (John 8:42-47, Romans 10:5-13, 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 4:9-10).
What are the implications for believers that Jesus Christ is God? First we have real knowledge of the nature and person of God. Second redemption is not merely hypothetical, but reality because the sin of all mankind has been truly atoned. Third the rift between God and man has been truly amended as God closed the rift himself. Fourth Christ deserves all our worship, (John 14:9, Philippians 3:3, Hebrews 10:19-22).
The Humanity of Christ
Was Jesus Christ fully human? Yes. Paul explains that Jesus took on the nature of a servant and was made into human likeness, (Philippians 2:5-11).
Is embracing Jesus Christ as human relevant to salvation? Yes. Jesus Christ's humanity is a true example and hope for us because his example was true God in true humanity. Jesus' intercession for us is credible because he was faced with every temptation and remained sinless. The Scriptures also declare that acknowledging that Jesus came in the flesh is part of true Christianity, (Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 4:14-16, 1 John 4:2).
What are the implications of the humanity of Jesus Christ? Jesus' atoning death is applied to humanity because He became human to save us. Jesus can truly sympathize and intercede for us because he knows our trials. Jesus has demonstrated for us what sinless humanity is and what Christians have to look forward to. Jesus can be our example because he was a human example. God's willingness to limit himself to human existence demonstrates that human nature is good, though limited. And finally God is not completely transcendent and above creation, but he acts within creation, (Acts 17:27-28, Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:27, 2 Timothy 2:8-10, Hebrews 4:14-16).
The Unity of the Person of Christ
How is Jesus Christ both fully God and fully human? The eternally pre-existent Jesus Christ temporarily removed only those divine qualities needed so that he could become a man to fulfill His work on this earth. Upon completion of this work the incarnate Christ returned to heaven, (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Virgin Birth
Was Jesus Christ supernaturally born of a virgin woman? Yes, (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38).
Why is the virgin birth significant? The virgin birth insists to us that Jesus Christ and salvation are supernatural. The virgin birth insists that God's salvation is fully a gift of grace because Mary wasn't more deserving of this blessing than any other woman. The virgin birth sets Jesus apart as unique among humanity. And the virgin birth stands as another miracle to lead us to belief in Jesus Christ, (Luke 1:46-56, John 1:13, John 3:5-6, John 14:11).
Introduction to the Work of Christ
How did Jesus Christ serve in his role as a prophet revealing truth from God? Jesus taught truth from God, (Mark 6:4, John 7:17).
How did Jesus Christ serve in his role as a priest reconciling men to God? Jesus serves in a permanent priesthood because offered himself for our sins and because he lives eternally, (Hebrews 7:18-28).
How did Jesus Christ serve in his role as a king ruling over mankind and creation for God? Jesus serves as a servant king and does not Lord it over those entrusted to himself. In fact His kingdom is not of this world, but of the future new heavens and new earth. (John 6:15, John 18:33-37).
What was the work of Jesus Christ's humiliation? The work of Christ's humiliation was willingly to humble himself by becoming man, to be rejected by all mankind, to suffer at the hand of mankind, and to die upon a cross, (Matthew 16:21, John 1:11, Philippians 2:5-11).
What was the work of Jesus Christ's exaltation? The work of Christ's exaltation was to teach the truth in love, to raise himself from the dead, to ascend to God the father's right hand, and to win the title of Lord and Christ, (Luke 2:46-52, John 10:17-18, Acts 1:11, Acts 2:22-36).
The Atonement of Christ
What is the atonement of Christ? Jesus Christ's death as a righteous sacrifice for the sins of His people is His work of atonement, (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10).
Why is the atonement of Christ significant? Jesus Christ's willingness to atone for the sins of enemies is a demonstration of His character of gracious love and mercy. Jesus Christ's laying down His own life serves as an example for His disciples. Jesus Christ's death as a perfect sacrifice meets God's demands for divine justice for sin. Jesus Christ's victory of forgiveness prevailing over hate is a victory over the forces of sin and evil. And finally Jesus Christ's death satisfies God's requirements for justice so that mercy can be given to those for whom Christ died, (Luke 10:18, John 15:13-14, Romans 3:21-26, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, Philippians 2:5-11).
The Central Theme of Atonement
What is the central theme of the Christian Scriptures? The central theme of the Christian Scriptures is that God will make atonement for the sins of His people and destroy the work of Satan, (Genesis 3:15, Psalm 130:7-8, Romans 3:25).
Why does the nature of God require atonement for sin? God's perfect holiness and justice requires recompense for every sin, (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Why does the nature of man and his sin require atonement? Man's nature and sin is not simply ignorance or misguidance, rather man's nature and sin is truly in opposition to God and so if man is to be reconciled to God this sin cannot be overlooked, (John 9:41).
What is meant by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ willingly offered himself as a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of His people. The sacrifice of His life was an acceptable offering to God, (Romans 3:25).
What is meant by the propitiation of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ willingly died for the sins of His people in order to appease the wrath of God toward sinners and win the favor of God toward sinners, (Romans 5:9).
What is meant by the substitution of Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ in His death willingly accepted the wrath of God upon himself that was deserved by all sinful men, (2 Corinthians 5:21).
What is the purpose of the atonement? The purpose of the atonement was to truly make sinful men holy so that Jesus Christ could truly call us brothers and invite us into fellowship in glory with himself, (Hebrews 2:10-18).
What are the implications of the atonement? Sinful man is totally depraved otherwise Jesus Christ would not have needed to go the whole way to death to atone for our sin. God's nature maintains integrity with respect to his justice and mercy. That is, God is able to offer mercy because justice has been met. Grace is the only means of salvation. The design of God's salvation covers the sins of all mankind for all time because the design of Christ's atonement is infinitely perfect. Thus the believer is guaranteed salvation in spite of future sin. The price God paid for our salvation demands worship and obedience from His people, (Romans 3:9-31, Romans 8:28-39, Romans 11:32-36, Romans 12:1-2).
The Extent of the Atonement
Did Jesus Christ die universally for all the sins of all mankind without exception? Yes Jesus Christ died for the sins of those God the father has given Him also known as the elect or the people known as His people or His sheep, that is all mankind, (John 6:39, John 10:11, Romans 11:7, 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 John 2:2, 1 John 4:10)
Did Jesus Christ atone for the sins of those who are finally condemned to the Lake of Fire? Jesus Christ did not atone for the sins of Satan, The Beast, The False Prophet, or the fallen angels, that is those whose names are not found in the book of life, (Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 16:19-31, Romans 8:28-30, Hebrews 2:16, Revelation 19:20-20:10, Revelation 21:6-8).
Does the 'apokatastasis' of Acts 3:21 include the restoration of Satan and the fallen angels? Possibly, but not probably. On one hand since the redemption of mankind includes the redemption of all creation, perhaps then even fallen angels are in view. Yet on the other hand the substitutionary death of Christ only substitutes for people of like kind, that is humans and not angels. Fallen angels are also not named in the Book of Life which is why they are cast into the Lake of Fire, which is prepared specifically for them. The definitive Greek word for eternal 'aidios' is only used twice the Bible, once in Romans 1:20 concerning God and once in Jude 6 concerning the bonds on fallen angels, (Matthew 25:41, Acts 3:21, Romans 1:20, Romans 8:21 ,Colossians 1:20, Hebrews 2:16, Jude 6, Revelation 20:10).
For whom did Jesus Christ's death atone for sin? Jesus Christ atoned for all the sins of the elect, that is all mankind, (Romans 3:21-31, 2 Timothy 2:10, 1 John 2:2. 1 John 4:10).
Are those for whom Jesus Christ died guaranteed eternal life? Yes, (John 10:28, Romans 8:28-30).
When are those for whom Jesus Christ died recognized as part of Christ's elect family? The elect are only recognized as spiritual brothers when they have received Jesus Christ by faith. Faith does not cause election, rather election precedes and produces faith in Jesus Christ. Personal faith in Jesus Christ is the requirement for all the blessings of the Christian life, (Romans 3:26).
For what did Jesus Christ's death atone? Jesus Christ's death atoned for all the sinful thoughts and actions of the elect, His people, for all time, (Matthew 12:31).
9. A STUDY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, (Pneumatology)
Who is the Holy Spirit? Our study has also revealed to us that the Holy Spirit is the remaining person of the God-head. We need to consider his person and work.
The Person of the Holy Spirit
Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit who is identified as God, (Acts 5:3-4, 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
What is the nature of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit as the third person of the trinity shares equally all the attributes of God discussed earlier. Furthermore the Holy Spirit is truly a person with personality and not an impersonal force, (John 16:5-11, John 16:13-14, Ephesians 4:30).
What are implications for us from the doctrine of the Holy Spirit? Again the Holy Spirit is a person and not simply a force exuding from God the Father. The Holy Spirit being fully divine shares in all the attributes of God shared earlier. The Holy Spirit is one with the Father and the Son in nature, purpose, and work. God, the Holy Spirit, is actually so close to us as to actually enter into the believer in Jesus Christ, (Acts 2:4, Acts 5:3-4).
The Work of the Holy Spirit
Was the Holy Spirit at work in the Old Testament? Yes. (Genesis 1:2, 1 Samuel 10:6, Job 26:13, Ekekiel 2:2).
Was the Holy Spirit at work during Jesus' ministry? Yes. (Matthew 3:16, Matthew 12:25-27, Mark 1:8, Luke 1:15, Luke 1:35, Luke 4:14, Luke 10:21).
Was the Holy Spirit poured out to all people at Pentecost, the beginning of the church age? Yes. (John 14:15-21, John 16:5-11, Acts 2:1-41).
What is the work of the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin because men do not believe in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to righteousness because Jesus Christ is going to the Father in heaven. The Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to judgment because the prince of this world now stands condemned, (John 16:5-11).
What is the work of the Holy Spirit in beginning the Christian life? The Holy Spirit effectively calls individuals to the point of hearing the gospel. The Holy Spirit regenerates individuals using the means of the gospel, Scripture, Christian testimony, and the prayers of Christians, producing the visible evidence of conversion, turning from unbelief to belief in God's promises. The Holy spirit lives within the Christian from the point of regeneration and never leaves. Regeneration is an invisible work of the Holy Spirit. Conversion is the visible fruit, (John 14:17, Acts 2:36-39, Acts 15:3, Titus 3:5-6).
Can that portion of mankind who has never heard the gospel, such as the unborn, infants, or pagan peoples, be regenerate? No. There is no regeneration, conversion, or beginning the Christian life apart from understanding the gospel. Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit in those who understand and believe the gospel, (Matthew 13:15-16, Romans 10:5-13, Acts 20:32).
What is the fate of that portion of mankind who has never heard the gospel and thus have never been regenerated by the Holy Spirit? These people die in a lost state and are placed immediately before the judgment seat of Christ. Christian salvation is defined by personally placing faith in Jesus Christ who has died for sinners. The entire emphasis and thrust of the New Testament message is to bring the good news to those who have not heard so they can believe. Little attention is given to explaining the fate of the unborn, infants, and that portion of mankind who are ignorant of the good news. Rather the Christian is commanded in Scripture to bring the good news to everyone who has not heard. Jesus Christ has won the title of judge of mankind and every individual will appear before his judgment seat and his judgments are trusted by believers. Wicked unbelieving mankind is punished in Hades after death, (Luke 16:19-31, Romans 2:16, 2 Timothy 4:1-2, Revelation 20:11-15).
What is the work of the Holy Spirit in continuing the Christian life? The Holy Spirit continues the work that He began through continuing conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment. This work results in the renewal and spiritual development of the Christian. No Christian conquers sin in this lifetime, but instead he will be instantly perfected and glorified only upon Jesus Christ's return. The Christian is able, however, to put to death the misdeeds of the body, but only by the Spirit, (John 16:5-11, Romans 8:13, Philippians 1:3-6, Titus 3:5-6).
What are the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to believers for their service to the body of Christ? The gifts of the Holy Spirit are prophecy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving aid, leadership, showing mercy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, apostles, evangelists, pastor/teachers, and speaking, (Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 4:11).
What are the purposes of the gifts from the Holy Spirit? The gifts of the Holy spirit are to prepare God's people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, (Ephesians 4:12-13).
Are all the gifts of the Holy Spirit manifest today? No. Apostles are those men specifically appointed by the risen Christ Jesus to testify to the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There have been no Apostles other than those recorded in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 13 makes it clear that speaking in tongues will cease and prophecy will be abolished at some point. The present day imitations of speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, words from the Lord, and false miracles are not works of the Lord, (Mark 3:14, Acts 1:26, Acts 2:1-13, Acts 14:14, Acts 15:2, Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:22-23, 1 Corinthians 12:1-31, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40, 1 Corinthians 15:8-9. Galatians 3:5).
10. A STUDY OF SALVATION, (soteriology)
What is Christian salvation? Thus far we have learned about God, man, and sin. At this juncture it is appropriate to introduce our study of the salvation of men. How can a holy and just God permit the salvation of even one sinful man?
Conceptions of Salvation
How does salvation occur in time? Salvation within the individual begins at a point and is followed by a process. The beginning point is predestination even before the creation of the world, followed by regeneration and conversion in time, to be born of the Spirit. The process which follows is renewal, also by the Spirit, (John 3:1-21, Ephesians 1, Titus 3:5-7).
In the salvation of man what is saved? The primary work of salvation is to restore each individual man's broken relationship with God so that man can approach God even as a sinner. Subsequent effects also include restoration of man's relationship with himself because condemnation and guilt have been removed, man's relationship with other men because all believers are brothers in Christ, and man's relationship with the creation, (Romans 8:1, Romans 8:18-25, Romans 8:29).
What is the medium of salvation? The sole medium of salvation is the initiation of grace from God resulting in the expression of faith in Jesus Christ in individual men, (Ephesians 2:8-9).
What is the extent or scope of salvation? Salvation is completely effective for the elect of God, (2 Timothy 2:8-10).
What are the objects of salvation? The primary object of salvation is the salvation of God's people through faith in Jesus Christ. And thus men are called upon to repent and believe this good news. Scriptures also indicate that the creation itself, plants, animals, and minerals are also subjected to frustration and waiting for liberation upon Jesus Christ's return, (Romans 8:18-25).
What is the summary expression of salvation by grace? All mankind is totally depraved. God the father has unconditionally elected His people to salvation. God the Son has provided complete atonement for all mankind. God the Holy Spirit draws chosen ones to faith in Jesus Christ through His irresistible grace. God's people are secure once saved and are preserved by the power of Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 2:1-3, Ephesians 1:3-8, John 10:11-19,24-29, John 16:5-15, Philippians 1:3-6).
The Antecedent to Salvation: Predestination
What is predestination? Before the creation of the world God chose and predestined His people in Christ to be holy and blameless in his sight even though they were sinners in order to demonstrate His grace, (Ephesians 1:5-6).
Who has God predestined? God predestined to salvation those that he foreknew or fore-loved, those chosen by grace, (Romans 8:29, Romans 11:1-5).
When has God predestined the elect in time? God predestined the objects of His grace before the creation of the world, (Ephesians 1:5-6).
When has God predestined with respect to individual salvation? God first foreknew His people. He then predestined them to salvation. He then calls them to himself. He then justifies them in His sight. And finally He will glorify them in His presence, (Romans 8:29-30).
What are the implications of predestination? We can have great confidence that the sins of the elect are atoned for. We can rest when we have done our best to proclaim the gospel knowing that salvation belongs to the Lord. We can be confident in our evangelistic zeal knowing that God's grace will be victorious even for the unbelieving elect. Salvation by grace alone begins with the doctrine of predestination, (Romans 8:29-30, Romans 11:1-6, 2 Timothy 2:8-10).
The Beginning of Salvation: Subjective Aspects
What is the logical order of the subjective aspects of salvation? First God places a special call on the individual's life with a guaranteed goal of salvation. This calling is an invisible work of the Holy Spirit who uses the Scriptures, the gospel, and the prayers of the saints. This calling will then result in regeneration and conversion at some point after physical birth when the individual hears the gospel and believes. God's calling in the individual is only evident through regeneration and conversion. An individual can have no confidence of God's calling in their life without regeneration and conversion. Calling is completely a work of the Holy Spirit and man is a passive receptacle. Regeneration and conversion occur at the same moment in time, though regeneration is logically prior and the cause of conversion. Regeneration is completely a work of the Holy Spirit. Conversion is the response of man. (Acts 2:38, Acts 16:31, Romans 8:29-30, Galatians 1:15, 1 John 3:9, 1 John 5:1).
What are the elements of conversion? Repentance from sin and faith in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ, (John 6:29, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 26:20, Revelation 3:19).
What is regeneration? Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit by which a natural man is changed into a spiritual man. Regeneration is a one time event marking the beginning of the Christian life, (John 3:1-21, John 5:24, Titus 3:5-6).
What are the implications? Human nature cannot be changed by social reforms or education. We cannot predict or control or cause regeneration, this is a work of the Holy Spirit. Regeneration and conversion are the beginning of the Christian life, not calling. Thus no one is born Christian. Christian conversion requires both repentance from sin and trust in the promises of Jesus Christ. Conversion experiences may differ in other ways, but repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ are the essential elements. Regeneration is not felt or observed. It is a silent invisible work of the Holy Spirit. However, each individual once regenerated by the Holy Spirit is acutely aware of changes in his mind, will and emotions during his conversion to Christ, (John 5:39-40, Acts 2:38, Galatians 1:15, Titus 3:5-6).
The Beginning of Salvation: Objective Aspects
What is union with Jesus Christ? Through the work of the Holy Spirit Christians are once and forever united with Christ and share blessings with Him. The Christian is so close to Christ he is said to be "in Christ." And Christ is so close to the Christian He is said to be "in us." Union with Christ results in righteous standing before God and thus no condemnation forever. Union with Christ results in living for Christ and death to sin. Union with Christ results in suffering for righteousness. Union with Christ will result in reigning with Christ, (Matthew 10:24-25, Romans 5:17, Romans 6:1-14, Romans 8:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:27).
What is justification? Justification is the legal proclamation from God that the guilty sinner is declared righteous in His sight. Justification is completely by the grace of God received through faith and not of any work on the part of the sinner. Justification both absolves the sinner of his sin and imputes the righteousness of Jesus Christ to his account. Justification was a one time act of God at the cross of Jesus Christ for all mankind, the elect, which is received by faith at the beginning of the Christian life, (Romans 3:21-31, Romans 5:1-11, Romans 10:1-13).
What is adoption? The Christian believer now has the right to be called a son of God and share in all the privileges that a son of God has. He has the full right of an adult son in God's household and is an heir with Christ of all things. These blessings include Christian liberty and freedom, the heavenly Father's care, and the privilege of being Christ's ambassador. The Christian has all things now, by faith. At Jesus Christ's return he will have all things, in reality, (John 1:12, Romans 8:22-25, Romans 8:32, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Galatians 4:1-7).
The Continuation of Salvation
What is sanctification? Sanctification is the continuing work of God in the life of the believer making the person holy and Christ-like. Sanctification like justification is completely by the grace of God and not of any work on the part of the sinner, (John 17:15-20, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Titus 3:5-6).
Is the believer completely positionally sanctified before God? The Christian is completely positionally sanctified in God's sight from the beginning of their Christian life onward despite all their past and future sin by God's grace, (1 Corinthians 1:2).
Is the believer ever completely practically sanctified in this life? The Christian believer will continue to fight and struggle against sin until Jesus Christ returns and he is glorified in God's presence after which he will never sin again, (1 John 1:8, 1 John 3:1-3).
How does union with Christ affect the Christian life? The Christian's union with Christ guarantees that no matter what circumstance the believer finds themselves in that Christ is always with them to minister to them in their time of need, (Matthew 28:20, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 13:5-6).
How does a friendship and brother relationship with Christ effect the Christian life? This expresses the type of relationship that Christ desires and will have with us and is a great comfort to the believer in the midst of ungodly relationships, because Christ's relationship with us is always perfect, (John 15:15, John 20:17, Romans 8:29).
What is the role of law in the life of the believer? The Old Testament law no longer stands in the life of the believer. Rather the believer's life is governed by the law of Jesus Christ. The believer has the mind of Christ and so is able to make judgments about all things, (1 Corinthians 2:15-16, Galatians 5:18, Galatians 6:2, Colossians 2:13-15, 1 Timothy 1:8-11).
What is the role of grace in the life of the believer? Grace is the beginning and continuance of the Christian life. Christians continue living by receiving and giving grace, (Romans 6:14-15, Romans 12:1-2, Galatians 5:16-18).
How is the believer to be separate from the world? The Christian believer is to be separate from fellowship with the unbelieving world meaning those who reject Christ and those within apostate Christianity, (Acts 8:9-25, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
How is the believer to fellowship with other believers? The believer is to open their heart wide in the fellowship of God's people, use their spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ, do everything in their power to promote the unity of the body of Christ, and proclaim the good news in order to expand the fellowship of believers, (2 Corinthians 6:12-13, Ephesians 4:2-6, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 John 1:1-4).
The Completion of Salvation
What does it mean to persevere in faith in Jesus Christ? The true believer will continue in faith in Jesus Christ and Christ's purpose for him in this world whether Christian service or Christian growth by the grace of God alone, (Philippians 1:3-6).
Will the believer persevere in faith in Jesus Christ? Yes, by the grace of God alone. (Philippians 1:3-6).
Can the believer ever lose God's gift of salvation? No. The Christian believer has come to accept a salvation that is totally of God's grace and by God's promise. And if it is of God's work, will God change His promise? No again. The Christian's hope is in the unchanging promises of God alone, (Romans 8:31-39, Hebrews 6:13-20).
Can the believer shipwreck their faith and remain saved? Yes. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, 1 Timothy 1:18-20).
What is the glorification of the believer? Upon the return of Jesus Christ in glory he will bring all believers into His presence and glorify them. The souls of those dead in Christ and those still living will be gathered before the judgment seat of Christ and be joined with an imperishable body, glorious, powerful, and spiritual. They will then enjoy the presence of the Lord in a sinless state forever, (John 14:2-3, Romans 8:18-27, 1 Corinthians 15:12-58, 1 John 3:1-3, Revelation 21:1-5).
When will the believer be glorified? Every Christian believer will be glorified immediately upon the return of Jesus Christ for His bride, (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Colossians 3:4, 1 John 3:1-3).
The Means and Extent of Salvation
What are the means of salvation? The means of God's work of salvation in the life of the believer is grace alone. All that God does in the believer is by grace for the praise of His grace. The agents of grace primary to God's work are the Christian Scriptures, the gifts of the Spirit distributed within the body of Christ for building the body of Christ, and the prayers of the saints. The sole work of the believer is to trust in Jesus Christ, (John 6:29, Acts 20:32, Ephesians 2:6-7, Ephesians 4:11-13, James 5:13-20, 1 John 5:14-17).
What is the extent of salvation? The offer of salvation by faith in the grace of Jesus Christ is guaranteed to be effective in the elect, God's chosen people, (Romans 11:1-36, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, 2 Timothy 2:8-10).
11. A STUDY OF THE CHURCH, (ecclesiology)
What is the church, the organization of saved people? God has saved men and the Bible also speaks about what saved men are to believe, what they are the practice, and how they are to organize themselves.
The Nature of the Church
What is the church? The church is the assembly of repentant sinners who place faith in the promises of Jesus Christ, who demonstrate regeneration through their conversion, who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord, who have followed Jesus Christ's example and command to be baptized in water, and who have willingly joined themselves in fellowship with Jesus Christ, the head of the church, and His family on this earth, (Matthew 16:13-20, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 2:14-22, Ephesians 5:23, 1 Peter 2:4-5).
What is the minimum requirement to be a local church? The minimum spiritual requirement for participation in a church of Christ is described above. Regarding attendance Jesus said, "where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Doctrinally every church of Christ must be committed to Jesus Christ as the head of the church, committed to inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures and its authority over individual believers and the church in both belief and practice, and committed to Christian discipleship, (Matthew 18:20, Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 17:10-12, 1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 4:15, 2 Timothy 3:16-4:5).
Must a believer be in fellowship with a church family? Yes. If a believer is not in fellowship with an assembly of believers he is sinning, (Hebrews 10:25).
Is there one church or many churches? There is one true church of Christ visible to God and invisible to men comprised of all true believers in Jesus Christ. There are also local churches of Christ with the commission to represent the one true church in belief and practice, (Matthew 16:13-20, Acts 8:1, Acts 9:31, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 1 Corinthians 16:19, Colossians 4:15, 2 Timothy 2:19).
Must a local church be in fellowship with other local churches? Yes. If a local church is not in fellowship with other local churches they are sinning, (3 John).
How is the church described in the Scripture? The church is called the people of God. The church is the visible body of Christ in this world. The church is the temple of the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 12:13, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 1:22-23).
Is the church the kingdom of God? The church is only part of the kingdom of God and is the result of God's kingly reign and serves to testify concerning all of God's kingdom, (Acts 8:12, Acts 28:31, Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 15:24, Colossians 1:13, Hebrews 12:28).
Are the church and Israel distinct? Yes, God continues to maintain a distinct promise to turn Israel to faith in Jesus Christ in history future. Believing Israel will, however, not regain God's favor in a body separate from the church, nor the church separate from them, but all will rejoice together in fellowship under Christ, (Romans 11, Ephesians 2:14-22, Ephesians 3:1-13).
The Role of the Church
What is the role of the church in evangelism and discipleship? The church has been given the commission by Christ to make disciples of all nations by going, baptizing, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded. (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15-16, John 21:15-19, Acts 1:8).
What is the role of the church in building up believers and the body of Christ? The primary work of the church is to build up the body of believers into Christ's likeness. Evangelism and social service become most effective as the body of Christ itself is built up. Jesus himself did not pray for the world, but for those that God gave him out of the world, so that the world could come to belief. Edification takes place through fellowship, discipline, instruction, and teaching. (Matthew 18: 15-20, John 17, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 4:1-16, 1 John 1:1-4).
What is the role of the church in the discipline of believers? The foremost goal is the restoration of the offending believer. Jesus first prescribes that the offending party be corrected by one brother. If he does not listen take one or two others along. If he still does not listen take it before the church. If he does not listen at this point remove him from fellowship, (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-13, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11).
What is the role of the church in worship of Jesus Christ? The assembly of believers is the community where believers worship the Lord in renewal, conversation, praise, thanksgiving, the Lord's supper, giving, and song, (Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 11:1-34, 1 Corinthians 14:1-40, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, Ephesians 5:19-20, 1 Timothy 2:1-15).
What is the role of the church in social concern? The church is to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of both Christians and non-Christians. The primary ministry to the non-Christian world is the ministry of the gospel. However, Christians should also represent Christ to the world by feeding the poor, ministering to medical and other needs, and speaking and praying against the corrupt powers of this world, (Galatians 2:10, James 2:1-13, James 5:1-6, 1 John 3:17).
What is the role of the church in proclaiming the gospel? The church of Jesus Christ serves to demonstrate the good news of the gospel within their fellowship, proclaim the good news to the lost, and pass the good news to the next generation of humanity protected from heresy, (1 John 1:1-4, 2 Timothy 2:2, 2 Timothy 4:1-5).
What is the posture and attitude of the church in the world? The church of Christ is to be serving with a Christ-like attitude and adapting ministry to believers and non-believers in a culturally relevant fashion, (Matthew 20:28, Philippians 2:5-11).
The Government of the Church
What are the qualifications for servants of the church? Servants of the church must be blameless, not overbearing, not drunkards, not violent, hospitable, lovers of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. They must hold firmly to the sound doctrine of the Christian Scriptures so they can teach believers and refute those opposing it, (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Titus 1:5-9).
How are servants of the church commanded to serve? Servants of the church are to be shepherd's of God's flock serving because they are willing, not greedy for money, eager to serve, and not lording it over those entrusted to their care, (1 Peter 5:1-4).
How are servants of the church to be honored by believers? They are to be remembered, their way of life considered, and imitated. They are also receive double honor and compensation for their work, (1 Timothy 5:17-18, Hebrews 13:7).
How are servants of the church to be corrected? No accusation is to be brought against an elder except by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Elders who sin are to be rebuked publicly so that others can take warning, (1 Timothy 5:19-20).
What are the roles of men and women in the church? Men may serve in every capacity in the church. Women may serve in every capacity except to teach men or have authority over men, (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
The Initiatory Rite of the Church: Baptism
What is Christian baptism? Christian baptism is the immersion / washing of a regenerate convert to Christianity into water upon their profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Christian baptism does not produce regeneration, conversion, or faith. These must all be evident before Christian baptism, (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:14-41).
What is the meaning of Christian baptism? Baptism symbolizes the believer's union with Christ in His death and resurrection. Baptism also symbolizes the pledge of a good conscience toward God, (Romans 6:1-14, 1 Peter 3:21).
Who is baptism properly applied to? Baptism is properly applied only to those who evidence regeneration by the Holy Spirit through conversion and repentance from sin, trust in Jesus Christ, and desire baptism. There is no precedent for infant baptism in the Scriptures or for the forced baptism of adults, (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:14-41).
Are other modes of baptism acceptable? The primary meaning of the word baptism is "to dip" and thus it is the Biblical method. However, it is possible that other modes, such as washing, pouring, or sprinkling, have been used in the Scriptures when immersion was not possible such as in a house, (Acts 9:18-19, Acts 10:47-48).
What is dangerous about emphasizing baptism? Paul explains that in his own ministry he did not want to rob the cross of its power by baptizing (1 Corinthians 1:11-18). Paul is certainly not opposed to baptism, rather his commission was to preach the gospel so that men could be saved. Water baptism should naturally follow. Paul also explains that if anyone communicates that there is any way to be saved other than by faith in Jesus Christ, such as by water baptism, let him be eternally condemned. The proper posture for the church is to simply call sinners to repentance and faith in Christ and baptize those trusting in Christ. Baptism does not save, but Jesus does, (Galatians 1:6-10, Acts 2:38).
Should a baptized infant be re-baptized if they are saved by personally placing faith in Jesus Christ? Yes. The Scriptures demonstrate only the baptism of those professing faith in Jesus Christ personally, (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:14-41).
Should a baptized adult be re-baptized if they has not trusted Christ earlier, but now have been saved by receiving Christ's forgiveness? Yes. The Scriptures demonstrate only the baptism of those professing faith in Jesus Christ personally, (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2:14-41).
Is a baptized infant who does not personally receive Jesus Christ or any other person who rejects Jesus Christ saved? No. Personal faith in Jesus Christ is the only way of receiving salvation, (John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9).
If someone were baptized under a ministry that does not teach that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, then should they be re-baptized in a Christian church? Yes. Baptism is both a symbol of personal faith as well as union with the body of true believers through agreement with their teaching, (Acts 19:1-7).
What meanings does the word baptism have in the Scriptures? The use of the word baptism in the Scriptures requires careful examination because it may refer to water baptism or it may refer to the baptism of the spirit, the Holy Spirit's saving work in the individual's life, (Matthew 3:11).
Can someone be saved without water baptism? Yes. The thief on the cross was saved, but not baptized. However, this rite should not be taken lightly and is strongly associated with salvation itself, (Luke 23:43, Acts 2:38)
The Continuing Rite of the Church: The Lord's Supper
What is the Lord's Supper? The Lord's Supper is a memorial meal of unleaven bread and wine, patterned after the Old Testament Passover, established by Jesus Christ before his crucifixion, (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-38).
What is the meaning of the Lord's Supper? Jesus explained that the bread is His body which was broken for us. He also explained that the wine was the new covenant in His blood. The purpose of Christians sharing in this supper of bread and wine is to proclaim the Lord's crucifixion until He returns, (1 Corinthians 11:17-26).
Who should partake of the Lord's Supper? The Lord's Supper is properly served only to those professing faith in Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).
How should one prepare to take the Lord's Supper? The Lord's Supper is cause for self-examination for the believer and must be eaten reverently, (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).
What are the elements of the Lord's Supper? The elements of the Lord's Supper are unleaven bread and wine. The Scriptures do not forbid substituting the elements for practical purposes providing the substitutes maintain proper reverence for the memorial meal, (1 Corinthians 11:23-34).
The Unity of the Church
Is the church of Jesus Christ one church universally in the world? Yes, (1 Corinthians 12:12-13, Ephesians 4:1-6).
How should Christians of different local church bodies fellowship and work together? Christians should make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Christians should prepare their hearts for the day when there will be one people of God in reality in heaven. Christians should also pursue and work toward the high calling of uncompromised Scriptural truth, loving Christian fellowship, and partnership with all believers, (Ephesians 4:1-15).
What are the essential factors to consider in Christian fellowship and partnership? Truth and love, belief and practice. Truth and beliefs about Jesus Christ and the Christian Scriptures need to be examined and compared to confirm unity in the Christian mission. Love and practice also need to be examined to insure all are living lives worthy of Christ's calling, (1 Corinthians 5:1-12, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Titus 1:10-16).
Why is the visible church of Jesus Christ factious? The visible church of Jesus Christ is factious because of sin, Satan, and Christian immaturity. And yet God himself is sovereign even over these problems, (2 Corinthians 2:10-11, Ephesians 4:1-16, James 4:1-12, Revelation 2-3).
The Role of the Church in Marriage
Is marriage an institution of the church or state? Marriage is an institution of the church and thus the church need not acknowledge state marriage or perversions thereof, (Matthew 19:4-6.)
Is a believer permitted to marry an unbeliever? No, (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Does the Bible prescribe additional regulations concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage? Yes. A simple summary of marriage regulations would be that first divorce is permitted but only in the case of unrepentant sexual infidelity. (Matthew 1:18-20, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:3-12, 1 Corinthians 7:10-17, 1 Timothy 5:11-15, Colossians 1:21-22, Matthew 6:14-15, Deuteronomy 22:13-27, Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Isaiah 50:1).
Does the Lord hate divorce? Yes, very definitely, (Malachi 2:13-16).
12. A STUDY OF LAST THINGS, (eschatology)
Finally what remains to be accomplished in God's plan? The Christian Scriptures speak about things yet future and the destinies of all things in this world from people to the physical creation. God has revealed some of these things to us for our strengthening and encouragement.
Introduction to Eschatology
Why is the study of future things important for the Christian? God has spoken to us of future things in the Scriptures for our benefit and so it would be wise to pay attention. The Christian Scriptures also proclaim that Christ is victorious and all who hope in Him will be brought into His presence with great joy. It is also important because God is truly completing His plan in the world exactly as prescribed in the Scriptures and Christians should take heed that God continues to work in the world. Jesus commanded us to "watch!", (Matthew 24:36-51, Mark 13:32-37).
What are the essential doctrines of last things for Christian orthodoxy? There are numerous differing views of future things and they cannot all be correct! The Scriptures themselves speak directly against those who teach that Jesus has already returned and that there is no future coming of Jesus Christ. We assert with the Christian Scriptures that Jesus Christ will return in power and great glory for His people and there will be no mistaking His return, (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Revelation 20:11).
Why does God continue to give the believer life? God gives the believer life, but only as he walks by the Spirit in order to live for Christ and complete the works that God has created in advance for him to do, (Romans 8:1-17, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 1:21).
Why does God continue to give the unbelieving elect life? God gives the unbelieving elect life, that is unbelieving mankind, because of his patience in waiting for them to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. And God will faithfully bring them to himself, (2 Peter 3:9).
Why does God continue to give the unbelieving non-elect life? God gives the unbelieving non-elect life, that is fallen angels, because of his patience in storing up his wrath for the day of judgment upon them as well as to truly demonstrate the riches of his glory to the objects of his mercy, mankind, whom he prepared for glory, (Romans 9:22-23).
What is death and why does every individual die? Death is the separation of the human soul and spirit which returns to God from the physical human body which returns to the earth. Every individual is sentenced to die because of their own sin against God. There are two recorded exceptions of men who did not die, Elijah and Enoch. However, even Jesus Christ died. Death is the final enemy to be conquered by Jesus Christ, (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:26, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
What occurs during the intermediate state between death and the resurrection? Believers in Jesus Christ are immediately taken to a place of enjoyment in Hades called Abraham's Bosom in the Lord's presence apart from the body. Unbelievers are taken immediately to a place of torment in Hades. Hades is the temporary holding place for deceased humanity, righteous and wicked, (Matthew 10:28, Matthew 16:18-19, Mark 9:43-48, Luke 16:19-31, Luke 23:43, Acts 2:31, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, Philippians 1:19-26).
The Second Coming and its Consequences
Will Jesus Christ return to earth again physically? Yes, (Matthew 25:1-13, Acts 1:11, Hebrews 9:27-28).
Does anyone know the date or time of this return? No, (Matthew 24:26-44, Mark 13:32-37).
What are the characteristics of Jesus Christ's return? Jesus Christ's return will be personal, physical, visible, unexpected, impending, and with power and great glory, (Matthew 24:30, Matthew 24:36-44, Matthew 25:31, Colossians 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 1 John 3:1-3).
Will the righteous and wicked dead be resurrected from the grave? Yes. Hades will be emptied of all humans held there and Thalaasa will be emptied of all fallen angels held there. These subjects will then stand before Christ at the Great White Throne for final judgment, (Isaiah 26:19, Daniel 12:2, Ezekiel 37:12-14, Matthew 22:29-32, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Revelation 20:5).
Will the resurrection be bodily? Yes. The believer's soul and spirit will be joined with a new body, imperishable, powerful, spiritual, and glorious. Those outside of Christ who have done evil, however, will rise to condemnation, (Daniel 12:2, John 5:24-30, 1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
What is the final judgment? At the Great White Throne Judgment of Jesus Christ all mankind and angel-kind will appear before Him for His final judgment. Every secret will be revealed. Those in the Lamb's Book of Life will be welcomed into eternal enjoyment in the presence of the Lord. Those not in the Lamb's Book of Life, will be sentenced to eternal damnation separated from the Lord's presence for the ages of the ages, that is the Devil and his angels for whom the Lake of Fire is prepared, (Matthew 25:41, Romans 2:16, Revelation 20:11-15).
Millennial and Tribulational Views
What is the 1,000 year period of Satan's bondage? This is a greatly debated question, but I favor the view that this is the time of Christ's reign on earth through Christians during the Church Age. Thus there is a very real Kingdom of Christ at work now, but the specific length of 1,000 years is figurative. In favor of this view I observe that Revelation 20:1-6 can easily refer to the Church Age now because it makes no mention of peace, while Isaiah 65:17-25 appears to be speaking about the New Heavens and the New Earth. During the Church Age Satan is bound, restricting his evil work on the earth. At the end of the Church Age Satan will be released again to deceive the nations and rally them against the camp of the saints and the beloved Holy City. History will then be consummated at the Great White Throne Judgment of Christ, (Revelation 19:11-20:15).
What is the timing of Jesus Christ's return? I favor the view that Christ's return will occur at the end of the Church Age just before the Great White Throne Judgment, (Revelation 19:11-20:15).
Do the Scriptures speak in the future tense about tribulation and judgments upon Jerusalem that occurred in history past at 70AD? Yes, (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Revelation).
Do the Scriptures speak in the future tense about tribulation and judgments upon the world that are still in history future? Yes, (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Revelation 20-22).
What is the timing of Jesus Christ's return with respect to future tribulation and judgments upon the world? Though a foreign concept to my upbringing Scripture may indicate multiple future events with Christ. Christ came upon Jerusalem in judgment for their rejection of Christ in 70 A.D., (Luke 21:20). Christ will reign on earth through believers during the Church Age, (Revelation 20:4). Christ will appear for the rapture of the church, (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Christ will judge the sheep and the goats and execute the Great White Throne judgment, (Matthew 25 and Revelation 20:11-15). I am certain that each Christian and the world will face trials in this life with some of them being very great as Christian history has demonstrated. God willing we will study this further. The primary passages of Scripture in question are Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, Romans 11, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10, 2 Thessalonians 2, 2 Timothy 2:17-18, Hebrews 9:23-28, 2 Peter 3:1-13, and Revelation.
Will the elect, the people of God, those written in the Lamb's book of life, be welcomed into the joyful presence of God for all eternity in glory? Yes, (Revelations 20:11-22:21).
What is the new heaven and new earth? The new heaven and new earth is the location of God's presence in glory and the final home of all those transformed to love the Lord Jesus Christ, elect mankind, (John 14:1-7, Revelation 20:11-22:21).
What is the activity of heaven? The saints will enjoy the presence of God, worship God, rest from the work of their earthly life, eat and drink at Christ's table, fellowship with Christ and each other, and serve Christ and each other, (Isaiah 6:3, Matthew 19:28, Luke 22:28-30, John 14:1-7, Hebrews 3:11, Hebrews 4:9-11, Hebrews 12:22-24, Revelation 19:1-4, Revelation 20:22-21).
Is there marriage in heaven? No. Marriage was a great gift from God to mankind from even before the fall. The fellowship of Christians is a great gift to mankind during the church age. And in eternity the Scriptures promise that the blessings of heaven for the redeemed are wildly beyond our imagination, (Matthew 22:23-30, Romans 8:18-39, 1 John 1:1-4).
Will there be sorrow in heaven over past sins and separation from the unredeemed? Certainly not. How could anyone be sad about being separated from Satan and his demons? God has promised that in heaven He will wipe away every tear, (Revelation 21:4).
Will there be varying rewards in heaven? God will reward all those He has called according to His grace such that no person in heaven will know regret, loss, or shame, (Matthew 20:1-16).
What crowns will the believer receive from Christ in heaven? The eternal crown. The crown of brotherhood. The crown of those ministered to. The victor's crown. The crown of righteousness. The crown of life. The crown of glory, (1 Corinthians 9:25, Philippians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10).
Is Hades a temporary place of torment for souls awaiting the Great White Throne Judgment? Yes. The dead in Hades and the dead in Thalassa (the Sea) will be extracted to stand before the Great White Throne Judgment of Christ for final judgment and then death and Hades itself will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the unredeemed. Hades is the temporary prison for unbelieving mankind, while Thalassa is possibly the retreat or temporary prison for fallen angels, (Revelation 20:11-21:1).
Is damnation and conscience torment away from the presence of God for The Ages of The Ages certain for those not in the Lamb's Book of Life, that is the Devil and his angels? Yes, (Matthew 25:31-46, Revelation 21:6-8).
Does the Great White Throne Judgment of Jesus Christ determine the fate of each individual finally? Yes, Jesus Christ's White Throne Judgment is final, (Hebrews 9:27, Revelation 20:11-15).
What will be the basis for the final judgments at the consummation of this world's history? The Book of Life will be opened and everyone who's name is not found in the Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire. No individual has ever written their own name into the Book of Life, rather Jesus Christ has written these names. Is your name in the Book of Life? If you are a son or daughter of Adam you can know for certain that your name is in the Book of Life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Finally the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars will be placed into the fiery Lake of Burning Sulfur. Brother, sister, friend, come to Jesus Christ and find your name in the book of life! (Revelation 20:15-21:4).
Come quickly Lord Jesus and deliver us forever from the evil effects of Satan in our lives and the fellowship of your people!