Monday, October 31, 2016


Greatness in relation to God is twofold: meta­physical and moral. For this study, a line of demarcation is being drawn between the metaphysical attributes and the moral attributes, not because it is possible in the ultimate sense to keep them separate, but because in classification there seems to be a closer relationship within the two groups. The metaphysical attributes will be treated under the title of greatness, while the moral attributes will be treated under the title of goodness.

Certain attributes of God draw a picture of greatness. They are meta­physical in the sense that they are above and beyond and behind the physical manifestations of God. They depict the greatness of God in Him and in re­lation to the universe, to intelligent creatures, and to men. To name those attributes, they are as follows: self-existent, eternal, unchangeable, omni­present, omniscient, omnipotent, perfect, infinite, and incomprehensible. Each one of these will be treated in a later article.

The names of God contribute to the description of the greatness of God.

In the Old Testament there is one name that is especially prominent, the name "Almighty," the God of all attributes, all sufficiency. It appears for the first time in Gen. 17:1, and then repeatedly for a total of 48 times. Thirty-one appearances of the word are found in the book of Job. In every case some element of the greatness of God is displayed. In re­lation to the immensity of the created universe, it is most prominent in Job 40:2. But such aspects as protection from this God (Psa. 91:1), destruction proceeding from Him (Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15), and His greatness as represented by the cheru­bim also appear (Ezek. 1:24; 10:5).

For a total of nine times, the Greek word for Almighty appears in the New Testament. This is the equivalent for the Hebrew expression in the Old Testament. Except for one time (2 Cor. 6:18), the remaining eight appear­ances are in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:15; 21:22). In every case it is the greatness of this God that is displayed, and therefore the terror He inspires as He marches forward to the ultimate triumph. In addition to this word, the term "Majesty" also appears in the New Testament (Heb. 1:3; 8:1; Jude 25; 2 Pet. 1:16). The essential significance of the word is greatness in some one of several aspects, such as superb, glory, splendor, magnifi­cence, mighty power.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


God is One Being
As to nature, essence or substance, that is, God is a unity. But even more than that, God is not only one in the numerical sense, but He is also one in the integral and the essential sense. It may be truly af­firmed that God is one in thought, emotion, purpose, and action, yet that is not the point involved when it is affirmed that God is one. The oneness of God is the essential substance out of which there comes thought, emotion, purpose, and action. Note, then, at least three things constituting the oneness of God.

In the first place, God is one in the numerical sense. In this respect there is a denial of the existence of any other God. Moses emphasized this in his final discourse to Israel on the plains of Moab amidst the polytheism of that day. "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4). Fifteen hundred years later, Paul affirmed this amidst the polytheism of Greece. "We know...that there is none other God but one" (1 Cor. 8:4). This is what con­stitutes absolute monotheism. The God of the Bible insists on being known as "the only true God" (John 17:3; 5:44) and that "beside me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6).

In the second place, the unity of God encompasses the totality of His being. By this it means that the divine nature is undivided and indivisible. This in no sense comes into conflict with the triune personality of God. When Jesus de­clared, "I and my Father are one," He was not talking of purpose or will, al­though this was true, but He was pointing to essential substance and being. The Father is God, and in this same respect Christ was claiming that the Son is God, and that they are both the same God. This meaning was so clearly recognized by the Jews that they concluded that His claims constituted blasphemy and He was therefore worthy of death (John 10:31).

In the third place, the unity of God must be understood in the most absolute sense. In this respect the Bible teaches that there is but one God, whether He is being considered in the moral or positional sense. It was quite prevalent among the pagan nations given to polytheism to hold to a god of good and a god of evil, hence espousing dualism. Some believe that Isa.  45:7 was intended to correct any such notion with respect to the true God.

"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I the Lord do all these things." "Evil" in this verse, therefore, has reference to physical evil and not moral evil. There were others, however, who believed in many gods, and considered one to be the highest in position. Against this notion Paul spoke out, "For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God" (1 Cor. 8:5-6).

On this point, it must be concluded that at least in a threefold approach to the subject at hand, there can be no other reasoned outcome than that God is one as the Scriptures declare. Looking at the matter philosophically, the unity of God must be placed over against a multiplicity of gods as a logical necessity. As creator of the universe, if God were not one there could be no such thing as a universe, for the issue would be a multiverse. And on the moral and spiritual side, departure from the unity of God and endorsement of polytheism was an effort on the part of fallen men to escape allegiance to the one true God.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


God is personal being. By this terminology it is affirmed that He is personal in the infinite sense in which man is personal in the finite sense, for man was created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). However, the identification of the elements or characteristics which combine to produce what is designated as personal is not easy. Most men define a person as a moral and rational creature who possesses self-consciousness and self-determination. This is true of God, and it is true in an infinite and incomprehensible sense. Whatever is observed as being true in man, that distinguishes him as a person, should not be made the complete standard by which the personality of God is measured.

The very first verse in the Bible makes it clear that God is an uncreated personality. For in the beginning God already was existing (Gen. 1:1). All other personalities are creations. They are of necessity finite creations, and at best, only mere shadows of the infinite personality. There are resemblances in the finite of the infinite, but even in the largest sense they are only faint resem­blances. It is therefore correct to say that the personality of God is arche­typical, that is, primal and inherent, while the personality of man is derived from God. The personality of man is not identical with the personality of God, but it does contain faint traces of similarity.

It is most important to recognize that the personality of God is differentiated from material creation. Even though God created personal beings with whom He shares traces of similarity, God is completely distinguished from material and impersonal creation. Since He existed before matter, He cannot be identified as matter. He is not impersonal stuff. He is therefore not in any sense to be identified with the material universe. The philosophy of pantheism, which declares that all is God and God is all, is false. God is not the sun, or the moon, or the stars, or the earth, or any other item or aspect of material creation.

The fact of personality in God makes it possible for man to enter into a fellowship with God and worship Him. In this respect there is an essential affi­nity of man with God. Inasmuch as spirit is the essential substance of person­ality, it was upon the basis of this fact that Christ said to the Samaritan woman, "God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24 NASB). Men can approach this infinite personality and experience response. "I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill" (Psa. 3:4). The whole 34th Psalm describes the interaction of a finite per­son with an infinite person, all of this made possible because of the similarity of the characteristic called personality.

Friday, October 28, 2016


In the opening article, it was the purpose of the writer to set forth the place of God in the Scriptures. Within the limitations of one article, this could be done only in brief. But in that brevity there was this value, that it focused attention upon the lofty, immeasurable, incomparable perfection of the one and only God. The purpose of that article was to lay the foundation for a closer scrutiny of the distinctive nature of God. Now, more particularly, this article will examine in broad perspective the attributes of God.

The term "attribute" is intended to mean the property, the quality, and the characteristic of a person or thing. In reference to God, the term "attri­butes" points to what God is. Attributes answer the question of what God is like in nature, in essence, and in substance, that which is His peculiar possession in distinction from all other persons or things. In the strictest sense of the word, "God is spirit" (John 4:24 NASB), that is, in the sense of defining His substance, and His attributes are the various aspects of spirit.

All that God is like is not discovered by a study of those attributes that are specifically declared of Him in the Bible. This pointed statement is therefore in order: the Bible not only sets forth characteristics of nature in His possession, but it also displays characteristics of nature in performance. However, for the study to which this article is limited, the emphasis will be laid on possession, and only an occasional reference will be made to performance. This article is primarily concerned with what God is, and not what God does. For all that God does must issue from what God is.

In this particular article the broad scope of the attributes will be treated. The reason for approaching the study in this fashion is to give the reader a picture of God in completeness, before examining the attributes in minute detail. This will enable the reader to see how each attribute fits into the picture as a whole, with the end result that this will safeguard him from confusion. Later in the articles, each attribute will be taken up specifically and dealt with in more detail.

In general, so far as this study is concerned, it is fair to say that there are six great classes of attributes. These may be stated as follows:

1.     God is personality: that is, He is spirit, living, intelligent, pur­posive, active, free, self-conscious, emotional.

2.     God is unity: that is, He is one in nature, essence, and substance.

3.     God is greatness: that is, He is self-existent, eternal, unchangeable, omnipresent, ominiscient, omnipotent, perfect, infinite, incomprehen­sible.

4.     God is goodness: that is, He is holy, true, love, righteous, faithful, merciful.

5.     God is Christ-likeness: that is, completely and perfectly, He is like Christ.

6.     God is tri-unity: that is, God is three equal persons subsisting in one


An effort will now be made to bring each one of these six main areas into a more clear view.

Thursday, October 27, 2016



The significance of the God of the Bible in relation to mankind is a necessary sequel in this article. Ideas have consequences, as the history of mankind thoroughly demonstrates. This is especially true in the arena of religion. No person has ever risen above its religion, and no religion has ever exceeded in proportion its conception of God. "Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God." Men tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward the mental image of the object they worship. What men approve in perception they approach in performance. This means that the most revealing thing about the people of God in any period is the conception they hold of the God whom they worship.

With amazing subtlety Satan attacked the human race at this point. He distorted the conception of Eve concerning the goodness of God. By means of an insinuating question he suggested that God might be withholding some good thing from her by imposing the prohibition concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:1). Her evaluation of the benefits to be derived from partaking of the fruit deceived her into believing that God was deliberately depriving them (Gen. 3:6). She took of the fruit and ate, and Adam joined with her in an act that plunged the whole human race into darkness and even lower conceptions of God.

The testimony of history, through millenniums of time, is that men have fashioned the object of worship over the pattern of their own thoughts. "Thou thought that I was altogether such an one as thyself (Psa. 50:21). This is the indictment of God hurled into the teeth of the wicked. God is something like man who was created in His image, but not altogether like him. And where sin pre­vails, it is certain that the image of God carried in the mind of the worshipper is measured over the pattern of sin. This explains how men "became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things" (Rom. 1:21-23).

This fact further explains the awful descent into sin of every conceivable variety: apostasy, thievery, adultery, and dishonesty, slander (Psa. 50:16-20). This low conception of God explains how men could descend to levels of sin so base and revolting that God was compelled to give them up (Rom. 1:24-32). Nor is the low conception of God to be restricted to the pagan world that engaged in idolatry. It is likewise manifest among those peoples where the images are mere mental con­ceptions of God issuing in the same plague of wickedness to be found in the pagan world.

To a world of sinners like this, the message of the Bible comes, speaking to the condition of all men. The message of the Bible concerning that exalted and majestic God who is therein described is both timeless and timely. Satan would, if possible, blind the minds of men lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them (2 Cor. 4:4). And only as God has shined in their hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, can men be rescued from this night of sin (2 Cor. 4:6).

Wednesday, October 26, 2016



The solidity of the God of the Bible called forth the figurative expression, "Rock," to depict His absoluteness. By means of this image-bearing word, God is placed as an absolute. Elsewhere He is referred to as the "God of truth" [Amen-Heb.], meaning firm, stable, absolute (Isa. 65:16; Rev. 3:14). Even in that day, the darkened intellects of men and the pagan reasoning of false reli­gion ran in the area of the relative. An ever shifting and changing evaluation produced frustration and despair. But for the children of Israel and the saints of the Church there was a Rock, an Absolute which imparted its solidity, its stability, its sturdiness, its strength to all other areas of reality. The pagans beholding this people in their worship and behavior had to admit that "their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges" (Deut. 32:31).

The moral qualities of God as a Rock, solid, stable, sturdy, strong, are sounded forth in the praises of the saints. Moses proclaims His performance perfect, "for all his ways are justice: A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, Just and right is He" (Deut. 32:4 ASV). In parenthood as a Rock, God provided for all that Israel needed (Deut. 32:15, 18). In demonstrations of power for Israel as a Rock, God came to the defense of Israel (Deut. 32:30-31). And upon numerous occasions the protection of the Rock was experienced by the nation of Israel (2 Sam. 22:2-3, 30-33, 47; Psa. 62:2, 6, 7).

Without a doubt the constant reference to God as the Rock of salvation means more than just physical and material deliverance. In many of these instances it rises to heights of spiritual deliverance from sin. In the song of Moses, the lawgiver was concerned about Israel as begotten and made by God, and in return lightly esteemed by Israel (Deut. 32:15, 18). David, in many of the Psalms, ascends to the point of his spiritual relationship with the Lord when he makes reference to God as a Rock (Psa. 28:1; 62:2, 6, 7).

When Moses made reference to God as the Rock in his song, we do not learn until we reach the New Testament that that Rock was Christ (1 Cor. 10:4).

But Isaiah does point forward to a coming king who will reign in righteousness, who will be to the people "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isa. 32:1-2). This one is the rock upon which the Church will be built (Matt.16:18), and the rock foundation upon which lives may be erected (Matt. 7:24, 25; 1 Cor. 3:10-11). Christ is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to the unbelieving (Rom. 9:33; 1 Pet. 2:8), but to those who come to Him in faith, He imparts to them the qualities of character found in the Rock, as for instance in the case of Peter (John 1:42).

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


 "God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles" (Heb. 2:4).

     The three Greek terms here are quite generally used in the New Testament to describe miracles. Dunamis points to the source of the miracle: it is an act or display of divine "power." Teras describes the immediate effect it is intended to produce: it is a prodigy or "wonder." Simeion indicates the purpose of the miracle: it is a "sign" pointing to something beyond it.
     Christ in the gospels was giving the Jews a foretaste of the conditions in His Kingdom with His rule. In a later passage of crucial importance the writer of Hebrews again refers to the miraculous acts of divine power that had characterized the Acts period, this time using the Greek term dunamis and reminding the Jewish readers of that generation that they had "tasted . . . the powers of the age to come" (Heb. 6:5, ASV). Here the miracles of the Gospels and Acts, although "tasted" by that generation, are clearly placed in the category of: things that belong to a future "age." Now this "age to come" cannot be the Church age because that had already begun on Pentecost and was even then running its course. Nor can the reference be to heaven or the eternal state, for then there will be no diseased to be healed or demons to be cast out. The true meaning is "the age of the Messianic reign," the Millennial 1000 year reign, which is to follow the Church age and will be ushered in at the Second Advent of Christ. The great miracles of the Gospels and Acts, then, are powers that really belong to the Millennial Kingdom. This suggests that their occasional and partial enjoyment by the generation living during the time of  Acts, as also in the period of the Gospels, was intended to authenticate an offer of the Kingdom to Israel, a genuine offer although conditioned on the repentance of the nation. And it explains why, following the crises of Jewish rejection reached in Acts 28 and the destruction of Jerusalem, the age of great public miracles, came to an end.
     The church has a work that is spiritual and not social. Food pantries and church soup kitchens are not the work of the church but taking the Gospel to the masses so they might enjoy the Kingdom of God that is soon coming to this earth and will enter through repentance - Matt. 28:18-20. "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." He is the Teacher and the Lord of that Kingdom (John 13:13 NASB).
We have seen enough of men's rule. He said He was coming again to take that rule that lasts forever Daniel 7:27  And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. They tasted the fruits in the Gospels and Acts and we await His return to take control of the abuse of men.


The solitariness of the God of the Bible is awe-inspiring. As a solitary figure He stands alone, no other even remotely like Him. Few there are who are sufficiently familiar with the Bible to bring to the forefront of consciousness the splendors of divine perfections. Yet the Bible is replete with reference to His glory, majesty, power, and lovingkindness, all of which sets Him aside in a class all by Himself. This is the One "who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see" (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NASB).

This One existed in solitary splendor in that period before creation came into being. In the beginning God already existed. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God" (Psa. 90:20). He was as much God then as now or ever shall be. Even though there was no heaven where God could be localized and His glory manifested, even though there was no earth to serve as His footstool, even though there were no angelic hosts to sound His praises, even though there was no universe to be upheld by the word of His power, even though there were no hosts of humanity upon which to bestow His grace, He was in every sense God.

This God is self-existent, self-contained, self-sufficient, and self-satisfied. He is self-existent in that He is not dependent upon anything external to Himself for originating or continuing existence, for "the Father hath life in himself" (John 5:26). He is self-contained in that He is complete within Himself and in no sense dependent upon anything external to Himself, "as though he needed any thing" (Acts 17:25). He is self-sufficient in that He possesses all fullness and is therefore the fountain source for everything else, "seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things" (Acts 17:25). And He is self-satisfied in that there is no reason external to Himself why He performs as He does. "He works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11).

There is an oceanic expanse which lies between the things of creation and the God of the Bible. "Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, or the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?...It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" (Isa. 40:15-18,22). In the light of what is known today about the dimensions of the universe, this description takes on even greater proportions.

All this can be comprehended in a refrain that runs through the Bible that "there is none like unto the Lord our God" (Exod. 8:10). This refrain is used when by the hand of Moses God exhibited to Pharaoh His uniqueness in the midst of Egypt (Exod. 9:14). Moses pointed out to the people of Israel on the plains of Moab that God had through forty long years displayed this fact to them (Deut.4:35). Hannah rose in her prayer to that height when she exclaimed, "there is none be­side thee" (1 Sam. 2:2). When David ascended the throne he too acknowledged this distinction. "For there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee" (2 Sam. 7:22). In the midst of those trying hours when Jeremiah beheld his people completely turned to idolatry, he took refuge in the fact that "there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might" (Jer. 10:6).

The unfolding revelation of this God confirms the fact that He is perfect, that is, there is nothing lacking in Him that ought to be present in the one and only God of the universe. In His person or being He is perfect (Matt. 5:48). In His will or purpose He is perfect (Rom. 12:2). In His word or pronouncements He is perfect (Psa. 19:7). In His work or performance He is perfect (Deut.32:4). In His way or procedure He is perfect (Psa. 18:30; 2 Sam. 22:31). And in His gifts or presents He is perfect (James 1:17). The multiplicity and infinity of His splendors so far exceed anything that man can ask or even think that Paul is moved to exclaim, "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out" (Rom. 11:33).

When all these perfections of God are gathered into one grand picture dis­playing the solitariness of God, the rational creature that in some sense compre­hends them in part is moved to spiritual and physical prostration in His presence. He is moved to exclaim that God is "terrible," to use the term of the King James Version. More correctly, the word means awesome or awe-inspiring, that is, humbled to the point of worship or consuming adoration. Moses encouraged the people of Israel with this term (Deut. 7:21). Bowed in prayerful worship, Nehe­miah used this term in a pagan court (Neh. 1:5). The psalmists in their songs of praise resorted to this expression (Psa. 47:2; 76:12).

Monday, October 24, 2016



The source of this article in theology is the Bible. It is true that there are two methods of approach to the subject of God. One method is philosophical, the other is Biblical. The philosophical approach begins with reasoning argument and at last (hopefully and perhaps) ends with God. The Biblical method brings man into the immediate presence of God. It is concerned with practical rather than philosophical matters. Man in his sinful condition cannot wait for the settle­ment of all the intellectual problems. So, inasmuch as the Bible was written for sinful men, it brings men without delay into the very presence of God. It starts out, "In the beginning God" (Gen. 1:1).

This primary and basic method of approach is direct and practical rather than argumentative. A rose, for example, needs no philosophical arguments to prove its existence. Its beauty and fragrance are immediate channels of revela­tion, entirely sufficient for those whose minds are not spoiled by mere specula­tion. In the same way there are channels of revelation concerning God which are immediate. God hath spoken concerning Himself, His nature, and His work. He has spoken in ways which are more universally accessible and convincing than in the case of any other fact of experience.

Best of all, God has made this revelation of Himself accessible to men within the covers of His book, the Bible. This is a God-breathed record, in­capable of error and verbally inerrant. It also provides the necessary tools for an accurate interpretation of its message about God. This makes it possible for men to article and re-article, to verify and validate their conclusions about God. It is objective, so that other men can also examine this record and compare notes, measure their progress, and correct their conclusions.

This divine record covers a vast area of channels through which God made His revelation to men. These channels of revelation constitute the method by which God discovered Himself to men. In no sense do these channels of revela­tion describe man in the process of discovering God. When Adam sinned he walked out of the presence of God, and from that day to this of his race it is written, "there is none that seeketh after God" (Rom. 3:11). Beginning with Adam, God went searching for fallen men (Gen. 3:8-11).

Seven channels of revelation can be isolated and described as set forth in the theological notes of Dr. Alva J. McClain.

1. God made revelation of Himself in the material and animal creation. "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and God­head" (Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4).

2.     God made revelation of Himself in the nature and constitution of man. For "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:26-27; Acts 17:28-29).

3.     God made revelation of Himself in early times by speaking directly to men. God spoke audibly to Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, and to others (Gen. 3:8-11; 6:13 ff; 12:1-4). At first this may seem impossible, because it is so different from today. But the text seems to say that.

4.     God made revelation of Himself in miraculous and providential works. He performed miracles among and in behalf of the people, and He worked through them to reveal Himself. "God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him" (Deut. 4:34-35).

5.     God made revelation of Himself in the experience and life of God's people: in the personal experience of each saved person (2 Tim. 1:12), and in demonstration of life to other people (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:9). Peter explains that "ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people: that ye should shew forth the praises of him who called you out of dark­ness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9; Phil. 3:10).

6.     God made revelation of Himself in the Holy Scriptures. " sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets" (Heb. 1:1). "Who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet. 1:10-11).

7.     God made revelation of Himself in the person of Christ. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him" (John 1:18). In support of this observation, Christ replied to Philip's request to see the Father, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:8-9).

Sunday, October 23, 2016



              The Bible begins with God. Its initial declaration is "in the beginning God" (Gen. 1:1). No attempt is made to prove the existence of God, though cer­tainly it contains many proofs. It proceeds on the basic presupposition that God exists, and its central affirmation is that "the Lord hath spoken" (Exod. 19:8; Isa. 1:2; Heb. 1:1-2). Thus it brings the sinner immediately into the presence of God.

The substance of this article is theology, a discussion about God. The word theology is a compound word derived from the Greek language, made up of the word "theos" meaning God, and the word "logos" meaning word or dis­cussion. So theology is in essence a discussion about God. In a limited but real sense, every person is a theologian. For the moment he formulates one mental concept about God he has entered the realm of theology.

Since men are rational beings, it is only natural for them to organize their thinking. Consciously or unconsciously, men organize their thinking as naturally as they speak prose, declares one great theologian. "This organizing principal is a part of our constitution. The mind cannot endure confusion or apparent contradiction in known facts." So the tendency to harmonize and unify its knowledge appears as soon as the mind becomes reflective. There are some men who decry theology. But you may be sure that the very disease they disclaim is one with which they are afflicted. For “every man has as much theology as he can hold." The unfortunate thing is that in such situations they suffer from false and inadequate ideas. As Ezekiel puts the matter, they "prophesy out of their own heart" (Ezek. 13:17). And these ideas always lead to consequences.

Theology was once regarded as the queen of the sciences, because it in­corporated in its discipline not only an article of the divine essence, but also the whole range of relations of God with His universe: creation, preservation, provi­dence, and redemption. Conservative theologians regard the Bible as the text­book. To any person who knows the Bible, he is aware that it touches upon every aspect and area of reality. This includes the natural sciences, the biological sciences, the physical sciences, and the science of man.
               In our day, the science of theology has gradually narrowed down to a dis­cussion of God in His essence and relation to mankind in redemption. But this does not mean that there are not overtones which reach out to every other aspect of knowledge and area of reality

Saturday, October 22, 2016



cristou kejalh thV ekklhsiaV

In several ways the Bible makes it clear that Christ Himself is the administrative Head, the One responsible for the building, growth, program, governing, and evaluating of the Church. From Matt. 16:18, "I will build My church," through Paul's epistles, 1 Cor. 12 (the Church is His body), Eph.1:22, 4:15, Col. 1:18, 2:19 (Christ is the Head of that body), and climaxing in the dramatic picture of Rev. 1 (Christ standing in the midst of the lamp stands representing the churches, examining their works, issuing admonitions and orders along with praises and promises), this portrayal of His authority and control is beyond question. Christ is running His Church. He states He is in no need of leaders in Matt. 23:10, for in His estimation there is only One, only servants.

The question we want to discuss in this article is a related one: How does He do it? When He was here on earth with those who were to become the church, His leadership and administration were direct. He personally gave the orders and made the decisions. Now that He is no longer present in the flesh, by what means or mechanism does He run His church? The specific aspect of this question we want to explore in this article may be seen by stating the problem a bit differently. Does Christ accomplish His rule over the church by means of specially authorized human agents (i.e., by elders)? Or does He direct His church by means of a democratic congregational organization of all the members of the body – congregational rule?

Before proceeding to a consideration of the Scripture teaching, it will be helpful to sound a warning. The answer to this question must not, dare not, be sought by appeal to the judgment criteria of human intelligence and worldly practices. What makes good sense in the business world makes no sense at all in church affairs. Remember how strongly Christ warned about this in the matter of standards of greatness and success: "It shall not be so among you." That is from the Master teacher and Lord (John 13:13).

This warning means, in effect, that the only arguments which are valid in seeking the answer to our question must come from God, from Christ Himself. He is the One who is ruling, He is the One who decides how He wants to do it. And that means, in our day, that the only source of information regarding the question must come from the Bible alone. We have no other authoritative source of information from heaven -- no apostles, no prophets -­and we believe that in God's wisdom that is all we need.


When the disciples began to realize that they were going to be left alone without the immediate presence of Christ to guide, their response was fear and uncertainty. Jesus knew their anxiety, and He spent much of the time in those last days encouraging and instructing them. He knew what they needed to know (much better than they did) and He taught them what they should know to face the changed conditions which were coming. So looking at what He taught them ought to help us to understand what He considered important about the changed situation. What did Jesus talk about with His disciples that last night in the upper room?

He said, "I am going away, but I am not abandoning you." John 14:1-3, 18-20, 23; 16:16-22. In many of these words He seems to be promising them the spiritual presence of Himself and of the Father during the interval when they do not see Him in physical presence.

Especially, He said, "When I go away I will send Another (One who will be your comforter, helper, advocate as I have been)" John 14:16-17, 25-26; 15:26; 16:7-11, 13-15. The indwelling Holy Spirit will be the presence of Christ in the believers. After His resurrection He renewed the promise (John 20:22), and instructed His followers (Luke 24:46-49) to wait in Jerusalem for its fulfillment at Pentecost. Then in the great commission He reassured them, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).

This promise that Christ would send Another to take His place while He was absent is most significant to the problem we are looking at. How will Christ run the church when He is not Himself physically present? He will do it through the agency of His Counterpart, the Holy Spirit. "He will take the things of Mine (including My running the church) and reveal them unto you." With His presence and ministry, it is if I were still here.


Many Scriptures emphasize the close relation between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the church. Repeatedly we are told that Christ would baptize His followers with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; Acts 1:5; 11:16). That promise was fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 1:5, 8; 2:4, 16-17, 33,  38) and this marked the beginning, the birthday of the church. Paul tells us that "we all were baptized into one body with one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13, literal translation; en pneumati: in, with, by means of; not by, in the sense that the Spirit is the agent doing the baptizing; Christ always is the baptizer in Spirit baptism -- look at the subject when the verb is active). Spirit baptism, the act by which Christ introduces us into His body, the church, is the reception of the Holy Spirit, Who enters to indwell the believer and new life is introduced (Rom. 6:3-4). “….we also should walk in newness of life.”

The implication of this teaching for our present discussion is that now Christ rules and directs His church through the instrumentality of the Spirit who indwells us. But, how does the Spirit direct? Is it by elders, or some other officials, who especially are led by the Spirit? Or does He lead by directing the whole body of believers? Do the Scriptures give us any lead as to His method? I believe they do, quite clearly.

First, there is nothing said in the Scriptures about the elders which indicates that they have any special relationship with the Spirit. Of the 18 references to church elders in the NT, only one (Acts 20:17, cf. v. 28) even has a mention of the Spirit in the context, and that is a reference to how they became elders, not at all to a special provision for their functioning in that capacity.

Second, it is never said in the NT that an elder is "filled with the Spirit" for his work. The expression "filled with the Spirit" occurs at least 12 times in the NT, usually of some individual (John the Baptist, Zachariah, Elizabeth, Jesus, Peter, Paul), sometimes groups (the seven deacons, the believers in Acts 7:31 and 13:52), "all" (at Pentecost). The significance seems to be a special enabling for the spiritual task at hand. That is precisely the need of the elder if he is to rule or direct the church, but it is never found. (The expression in Eph. 5:18 is an entirely different one from all the rest of these, and are not dealt with in this discussion.)

Third, the aspect of the Spirit's work when it is related to the church is always His indwelling and therefore is the common experience of every believer, not a work in a special class. The primary passage is 1 Cor. 12. It begins with all believers being baptized into the body by receiving the Spirit, vs.12-13. It continues by showing that many members make up the body, and that the Spirit gives to each of them His own enabling gift. Then it shows that all of those members with their gifts are necessary to the body. There is not a hint that some gifts are of a higher rank, or that some members are more capable of knowing the Spirit's guidance than others.

Fourth, the Scriptures make it plain that all believers are taught of the Spirit and "know"

the truth (1 Cor. 2:9-10, 12, 13, 14-16; keep in mind that the "spiritual man" is not some super-spiritual leader; he is one who has the Spirit, every believer. cf. vs. 12.) Cf. also, 1 John 2:20, 27. These passages of course do not teach that the believer is omniscient, but they do mean that every believer is teachable by the Spirit. There is nothing in Scripture which suggests that there is a select group of spiritual persons who are alone capable of knowing the guidance of the Spirit. The clergy-laity distinction in the church is post Biblical. And 2 Pet. 1:20 does not mean that only priestly or professional people are qualified to interpret Scripture; that was one of the errors of Catholicism.

Fifth, the epistles of the NT are almost all addressed to churches, and never to a pastor or elder of a specific church. This would be strange if the elder were the administrative head of the church, responsible for making the decisions. It is true that some (Timothy, Titus, 2 and 3 John) are addressed to individuals, and conceivably some of these may have been in fact elders. But they are addressed as individuals, not as officials of local congregations.

Sixth, the seven letters in Rev. 2 and 3 were addressed to "the angels" of the churches.

Opinions disagree whether these angels were "messengers" or elders of the churches, or, more in keeping with the rest of the book, they are to be thought of as literal angels (perhaps guardian angels). The point to be noted, however, is that the messages contained in those letters were not addressed to the angels. The commendations and the criticisms were not about the elder's activities, but rather the characteristics of the whole church. Each of the seven ends with the words "... what the Spirit saith to the churches." Again, this seems strange if the elder is supposed to be the spiritual decision-maker of the church.

Seventh, an analogy may be seen in the way the Holy Spirit directs in the spiritual life and growth of the individual believer. Does the Spirit guide our individual decisions by telling us to go to some "spiritual leader" and follow His instruction? Or does He guide by leading our thoughts to the Word of God and showing us there what His will is? Of course, the pastor or elder has a part to play; he has the responsibility to teach and influence our decisions by spiritual guidance. But making decisions is our personal responsibility.


1. The ordinary church member doesn't know enough about spiritual matters to be trusted with spiritual decisions. This is often tragically true. The answer is not to take the control away from him, but to teach him the spiritual lessons he needs in order to function as a member of the body.

2. The church congregation often is not able to agree on a decision or course of action. This also is often true, but again the answer is the same as to the first objection: teaching is needed, and if necessary a decision may need to be postponed until the members can come to an understanding of the Spirit's leading in the matter. Congregational government should not be merely "majority rule." It should become "rule by consensus." In Acts 15 the results of the Jerusalem Council were sent out when "it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church" vs. 22, and they could say, "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us" vs. 28.

Friday, October 21, 2016


What the Bible Says About Selecting Church (Servants) Leaders

Due to what Christ taught in Matt. 23:10 we shall use the phrase servant where most churches today error by calling them leaders of the church. The Teacher and Lord of John 13:13 says He is the only Leader in the church. Therefore men of wrong character traits are given power instead of works in the church today. This article is an attempt to glean from the New Testament what it says explicitly about the manner in which selection to various offices (servants-works) of the local church should be made. It will search primarily in two ways; an examination of the methods used in specific instances found in the NT, and an article of the words used in the original text of the NT to describe that process. Our search is aimed, not at the qualifications for leadership (servanthood) ­that is taken for granted, but at the procedural methods of a local church in making a selection. A side issue to be considered is the relation of those selected to the question of authority in the church.


Of course there is no selection of local church officials found in the gospels. But some of the teachings and practices of Jesus may serve as an important background for our article. We will look at four instances.


After Christ called men to become His disciples (Matt. 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:10-11, John 1:40-51) He then from this group selected twelve to be His apostles (Matt. 10:2-5, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16). They were His sovereign choice, thus totally separate from any human selecting process. Yet even Christ spent the whole night in prayer (His Father was His Head) before He made those choices. That certainly ought to say something to us about selecting workers for His church. Prayer must be part of the process.


From this we learn that Christ is the builder; He must be involved in every decision which has to do with His church. That fact must be a conscious part of every selection process. His selection of Peter, the "rock", teaches us something we must not miss; the sequel of this passage makes crystal clear that Peter's choice was not based on his great personality and moral strength -- Jesus needed to rebuke him most severely ("Get behind me, Satan") for his selfish "this-world outlook," and challenge him to denial of self, even to the point of death ("take up his cross.") James' and John's seeking first place in the Kingdom (Matt. 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45; cf. Luke 22:24-30)

This story calls attention to a radical difference between the expectations and practices of servanthood and greatness in the world, and in Christ's kingdom. "The princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister [servant, slave]." This is an important truth to keep in mind when selecting servants in Christ's church. What the world looks for in its leaders is the precise opposite of what Christ's church must look for.


(Matt. 19:28, Lk. 22:30; cf. Rev. 3:21, 4:4, 11:16, 20:4)

Not one of the twelve ever sat on a throne, but that promise certainly must have been a support and encouragement throughout their lives of trials and suffering. It comes to us as a precious reminder that there is reward and blessing ahead. When we select servants in the church, it may well be for the present a call to suffering and pain; but the end results are enormously worthwhile. After the cross comes the crown.


(Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15f, Luke 24:47-49, John 21:15-22)

The task which the Lord left in the hands of His apostles and His disciples was nothing less than the carrying of the good news to the whole world, including the good news to the lambs and sheep that He wants them fed and cared for (last reference above). The commission came from Him to Whom all authority in heaven and earth has been given. He made no assignment of that authority, He assigned only responsibility, and therefore those that look for leaders should be looking for servants – two different character traits. But He promised to be present always with His authority, even to the end of the age. Christ has not turned over His authority to the Church; He reserves that to Himself, but when we need it He is there to supply it. Christ is not a far-off absentee leader, He is Himself with us.   The church's servants are not left with the responsibility of running the church, He expects His servants to be subservient and obedient to Him. (Matt. 23:10 NASB)



The first instance of selection of servants faced by the early believers was the choosing of a successor to Judas (Acts 1:21-26). The process they followed was as follows: (1) Vs. 23: They put forward two men who met the requirements (he must be one who travelled with Jesus from His baptism, and was a witness of the resurrection). How did they choose these two? We are not told; perhaps they were the only two who met the requirements. The wore translated "put forward" NASB, "appointed" KJV, is in the original Greek a form of the verb "to stand" (esthsan); they "caused them to stand", they placed them before the group. It has no significance whatever as to how they did it; it certainly does not mean that they "appointed" them (KJV).

(2)    Vs. 24: They prayed, "Lord ... show us which of these you have chosen." The choice they wanted was not the choice of the persons present, but the will of the Lord.

(3)    Vs. 26: They cast lots. How they did it we are not told -- did they reach in a hat? or pass straws? or throw dice? It doesn't matter. God had said in the OT, "the lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord" Prov. 16:33. The method they used guaranteed that the Lord's choice was made.

Is this the way our churches today should make their choices? It is never recorded in the NT that it was ever used again. This was before Pentecost; the believers had not yet received the Spirit. As we shall see later, there were other ways used which permitted the Spirit to guide their decisions, and certainly believers are held responsible for obedience to the Spirit's guidance. We should not try to avoid that responsibility by using mechanical by-pass. Casting lots will bring about God's providential will, but not necessarily His desiring will.

The second incident of choosing servants in the church is the case of the neglect of certain widows in the Jerusalem church, and the beginning of the office of deacon in the church, Acts 6:1-6. This is the first account of the exercise of local church government, and by far the fullest. Apparently it was intended as an example which may be applied to other offices also.

A problem had arisen in the church in relation to the community of good practiced in the Jerusalem church to meet the need caused by persecution. Some of the widows felt they were being neglected, and the problem was taken to the apostles. Their solution included the following steps.

(1)    Vs.2, 3: The apostles called together (proskalesamenoi) the congregation, and instructed them to "select (episkeyasqe de- look for) seven men from among you." It is not told how they did this, but they came up with seven names.

(2)    Vs.5: The congregation approved (hresen) this plan and they chose (exelexanto) seven. It does not indicate whether they named more and then selected by voting, or simply approved the seven named. The point is that the approval was by the congregation. (Congregational rule – not board)

(3)    Vs.6: The seven were brought to (esthsan, caused to stand) the apostles, and after prayer the apostles laid their hands upon them, an action which seems to suggest that they were being set apart to and given the assurance that the church was standing behind them in the task to which they were assigned.

In summary, after the apostles' part of the story is removed (their part is now supplied by the Scriptures) the basic procedure was (1) the church people decided what the solution should be and chose the persons whom they wanted to do it; (2) the persons selected were assigned the work, with the support of the congregation behind them.


Church elders (presbuterouV) are mentioned 18 times in the NT. In only two of the passages (Acts 14:23, Tit. 1:5) is anything said about their becoming elders, and even these do not specify the procedure. Probably the office of elder was taken over from the Jewish synagogue, which was a democratically organized society led by elders, or rabbis, who received their position by reason of completing a proscribed course of article and recognized by the laying on of hands of the other rabbis.

In Acts 14:23 we learn that Paul on the return trip through the region of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (from the first missionary journey) "appointed elders for them in every church." These churches could not have been more than a couple months old, and the people in the churches were all recent converts. These new elders were not seminary graduates nor experienced Christians. The English word "appointed" suggests that Paul picked out some of these new Christians to act as spiritual servants of these new churches and assigned them to the office of elder. The word used in the original text may mean that (compare 2 Cor. 8:19, the other place it is used in the NT). Some have concluded from the etymology of the word (ceirotonhqeiV) that the meaning is "to select by raising the hand", i.e., by vote. We get our word chiropractic from that word. The word certainly is used that way, but some feel that the circumstances of this incident make that meaning unlikely. "Voting" is surely not the meaning in another passage where the etymology is the same (Acts. 3:20), where Jesus is said to be "appointed [as Messiah] for you"; cf. NASB).

The only other passage which speaks of the selection or appointing of elders is Tit. 1:5 -- Titus was left in Crete to "... appoint elders in every city." NASB. Here the word translated “appoints" is from katasthshV. Primarily it is a causative verb, to cause someone to be or to do something, often in the sense of to put in charge, to assign, to appoint. This strongly suggests that Titus was charged with the selection.

Does this mean that the selection of elders was a prerogative of some superior officer who had authority to do so, rather than the action of the “local church”? Let us examine this question a bit.

Who were these men who exercised this "appointing"? In the first instance it was the apostle Paul. As apostle he acted as the viceroy of Christ, His spokesman, with His authority. Christ was building His church through the direct mediation of His apostle. The authority to appoint elders was not Paul himself, but Christ. After the church was established and the apostles were gone, the authority they executed passed to Christ's written Word, the Scriptures. Today that means that the authority to appoint elders is based on the teachings of God's Word in the Bible.

What about Titus? Who was he? He is mentioned several times in Paul's writings, a friend and associate whom Paul used in handling some delicate situations (Gal. 2:1.3, 2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6, 13, 8:6, 16, 23, 12:18, 2 Tim. 4:10). In Paul's letter to Titus he states that he had sent him to Crete for the express purpose of organizing the churches there (Tit. 1:5). Hence Titus was exercising Paul's authority. Timothy is another similar example of this temporary apostolic authority.

The NT never indicates that Titus and Timothy were themselves elders, or that they had any church-assigned responsibilities. They were simply extensions of Paul's apostleship.

Who then today has the authority to appoint elders? I believe the answer must be, the church -- the local body of believers --, guided by the Spirit of God through the teachings of God's Word.


The phrase "laying on of hands" is often associated with the ordination or induction into the eldership, but it has many other contexts. Most often it is used in connection with miraculous healing; by Christ (4 times), by Paul (1), even by Ananias when he was used to heal Paul's blindness (1). It was said of Christ when He blessed the children (2). Peter and John laid hands on the converts at Samaria and they received the Holy Spirit; so also Paul with the disciples in Ephesus (2).

Of special interest to our present article it was used in association with appointment to office -- of the deacons in Acts 6:6 and the setting apart of Paul and Barnabas by the church at Antioch in Acts 13:3. There is no example of its use in the ordination of elders; the references in 1 Tim. 4:14 and 2 Tim. 1:6 speak of the bestowing of some spiritual gift to Timothy "by the laying on of hands of the presbytery", but there the elders were the ones who did it, not the one who received it. It is never stated in Scripture that Timothy was an elder.


Perhaps it is a bit disappointing that the Bible doesn't give us exact instructions, but that is the way He saw fit to do it. He is the Builder and Lord of the churches. He wants His people to depend upon His leadership as it is ministered to us through the guidance of His Spirit. His way is best.