Apologetics week 3:
Gods Natural Attributes
God is transcendent (excels above all):
• Separate from his creation, above and beyond it
• Self existing source of all life
• Authored our natural law yet is outside it. (Miracles)
• The world’s creator, sovereign (all mighty Lord and ruler) and judge.
• Transcendent (supreme ultimate) yet involved.
God is immanent (near):
• He does not stand apart from his creation as a mere spectator. He is involved.
• God is near but not like a pantheist that thinks that God is in all and all is God.
God is omnipotent (all powerful):
• Read Roman 1:19
• Think of the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, Alaska. God created this splendor and is in charge of it.
• Luke 1:37 “nothing is impossible with God.”
• Although nothing is impossible for God, he is restrained by his character traits. Therefore, “it is impossible for God to lie” Heb 6:18.
• Therefore, omnipotence only applies to inherent possibilities not impossibilities.
God is omnipresent (in all places all the time):
• All of Him (all of his characteristics) is everywhere. He is not just spread very thin.
God is omniscient (knows everything):
• God knows our actions, thoughts and attitudes. We can not fool God. (See quotes on page 28)
God is eternal (timeless):
• God had no beginning and will never end.
• He is the “One who lives forever” (Isa. 57:15).
• “The eternal God is your refuge” (Deut. 33:27).
• No one or nothing created God. He has been forever.
God is infinite (unlimited):
• The universe he created does not limit God.
• God is outside of space and time.
• God has chosen to put limits on himself at times. (When he appears as a man or angel in the OT or in the incarnation of Jesus.)
God is unchangeable (does not vary):
• God is unchangeable against sin, injustice, cruelty or deceit.
• When he seems to be different it might be because we have changed.
• With Nineveh, God did not change his mind, the people repented.
God is Personal (p 29)
• This natural attribute of God is of greatest importance.
• God is spirit yet he has all elements of personality: Intelligence, Feelings and Will.
• He acts according to his own purpose and will.
• We know this of God because he created man in his own image and after his likeness.(Gen. 1:26)
• Since we are persons, God cannot possibly be anything less. The created can not be more than the creator.
• All of the other natural attributes are inseparable from his personhood.
• Because God is personal, we know his will can not be blind fate like that of Islam’s Allah.
• Because God is a Person and we are persons, communication between Him and us is possible.
• Since God is a spirit, it is our spirits that communicate with Him.
God’s Moral Attributes (p30)
Now to know God exists is a very important beginning, but we need to know what kind of God is he. If he were like Adolph Hitler in character, we would be in for a horrendous existence.
Holiness is the sum total of the perfection of God:
• It is a term of the moral excellence of God and His freedom from all limitations to His moral perfection. God is morally perfect. Think about that for a moment and contrast that with yourself.
• • “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil” (Hab. 1:13)
• • Only God is holy in this sense. He is the standard of ethical purity.
• • Holiness has been called “the attribute of attributes” - that which lends unity to all the attributes of God.
• • We can clearly see God’s absolute perfection and His abhorrence of evil through His persistent reaching out to rescue His people and through them rescuing all who will come to Him.
God is loving. His love is divine, a perfect love:
• God’s love is displayed in his work from the beginning of the OT
• Love from creation to Christ’s dying on the cross. His love takes concrete action.
• Hos 11:4
• Jer 31:3
• 1 John 4:10
• John 3:16
• “God is love” was ultimately expressed in the life of Christ. He reached out to the outcast.
Love and Holiness (p32)
• God’s Love and mercy are not opposed to his righteousness and holiness.
• The promise of a redeemer was motivated by his love and mercy.
• It is a mistake to think the God of the OT is a God of wrath and anger and the God of the NT is a God of love and mercy. We must remember the countless times God had mercy on both Jews and gentiles in the OT.
• What are some examples of this?
• Love and justice are connected together.
Our Triune God: the Trinity (p 32)
The truth of the Trinity is central to an understanding of biblical revelation and the Christian gospel.
Most heresies throughout history have resulted because of a misunderstanding or misinterpretation of this attribute of God.
The term Trinity does not appear in the Bible but the concept does and it is not a later addition.
The Trinity is a difficult concept, not fully susceptible to human explanation because it involves categories that finite mental powers cannot easily grasp.
“God is one in His essential being, but the ‘divine essence’ exists in three modes or forms, each constituting a person, yet in such a way that the divine essence is wholly in each Person.”
Person can be understood here in that each person has a differing personality, they interact with each other in a relational way and they each have roles.
• Gen 1 uses Elohim the plural form of God to refer to one God
• (Deut. 6:4) “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one”
• This concept of one God was in stark contrast to the polytheistic world that surrounded Israel in Biblical times.
God is Three Persons:
• (Matt. 28:19) Baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
• (Mark 1:10-11) John the Baptist spoke of the coming baptism of the Holy Spirit and then a voice coming down from heaven saying “You are my Son”
• (Luke 1:35) Mary was told her son would be the Son of God and conceived by the Holy Spirit.
• The salvation message: Father sent the Son, Son sent the Spirit.
• (John 14-16) Jesus explicitly spoke of the Father and the Spirit.
• (2 Cor. 13:14) Benediction “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”
A Semantic Problem (p 34)
One reason why this concept is so difficult to understand is because our language is so inadequate to express the divine reality.
• Three persons is not three independent individuals but instead it is “three personal self distinctions with one divine essence.
• One what in terms of essence and Three who’s in terms of relationship.
• God is a unity, His life is not split into three. He is one in essence, in personality and will.
Subordinate Not Inferior
• The Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to the Father but they have done that willingly.
Two Major Heresies about the Trinity (p 35)
1) Attempts to get away from any implication that there are three separate and distinct persons in the Godhead.
• Three manifestations of the same God. God goes into a phone booth changes uniform then appears in different modes.
2) Accentuate the trinity so much that you separate the Godhead.
• Those how hold this view claim that the Son and Holy Spirit are lesser subordinate beings. This makes them created beings. Unitarianism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism
This is an important battleground. No true Christian can tolerate a description of Jesus as anything less than fullest deity coequal and coeternal with the Father.
God’s Will and Providence (p 36)
God is not only the creator and Triune God but…
• He is the physical sustainer of his creation. He holds everything into place.
• God is in control of everything.
God’s Eternal Plan
He makes sure that all things are supposed to happen do indeed happen.
• God’s absolute decrees are always accomplished.
• People may disobey God’s purposes for His creatures. Sin
• God’s directive will is what He brings to pass.
• God’s permissive will is what He allows to take place. Allowed choice, sin and evil.
What about free will? (p 38)
If God is in control of everything, how can I have free will?
When we think about God’s will, we must consider these truths.
• A person’s will is always a relatively small part of any given circumstance. We are not in control of our complete environment. Like a baby in a playpen.
• God’s foreknowledge is not in itself the cause of what happens. God is outside time and space and sees everything at once. Just because He knew an event would happen does not mean he caused it.
Christianity is Christ
Buddha is not essential to Buddhism, or Muhammad to Islam, but everything about Christianity is determined by the person and work of Jesus Christ.
But who is Jesus Christ?
We will first discuss the supernatural side of Jesus
The foundation of Christianity is Jesus Christ is fully God.
What are the biblical references of this idea?
• John 1:1 “The word was God”
• John 1:14 “The word became flesh and lived for awhile among us”
• Titus 2:13 “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”
• 1 John 5:20 “his Son Jesus Christ the true God and eternal life
• Name Jesus was Greek for Hebrew name Joshua which means “God saves”
• At his baptism he was called “Messiah” and the Christ
Why is it important that Jesus is fully God?
1. When we sin, we sin against God and only God can forgive us of our sins.
2. It shows how personal God really is.
3. Only God can be the perfect lamb.
Jesus Christ Claimed Deity
Skeptics will claim that Christ never claimed to be God. This is not true.
What are some of the biblical references showing Jesus’ claim to divinity?
• John 8:58 “Before Abraham was borne, I am!” At this, they picked up stones to stone him. They wanted to stone him because they thought it was blasphemous to claim to be God.
• John 10:30 “I and the Father are one”
• John 19:7 “The Jews insisted ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the son of God’”
• Matt. 26 63-64 The high priest asked “Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus answered “Yes it is as you say”
• John 5:18 The high priest then proclaimed we had heard Jesus’ blasphemy. He had said for all the hear the “God [was] his own Father, making himself equal with God”
Why is Jesus’ claim of deity important?
If he did not claim to be God then it would be easy to say he was just a man and there could be other ways to God.
Clearly Christ claimed to be God!
Jesus Displayed the Authority of God
Jesus has the legal power that only God has.
What authority did Jesus display that only God has?
Authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10)
Authority to Judge:
Mark 14:62 Sit at the Right Hand of God (Implying the authority to judge men)
John 5:22 The Father has entrusted all judgement to the Son.
Authority and Power to raise the dead. (John 6:39-40, 54; 10:17-18)
Jesus Possessed God’s Attributes
Jesus demonstrated for everyone to see the Natural Attributes that belong to God alone.
What are these Natural Attributes?
• Omnipotence: Matt.28:18 “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”
• Power over Nature: Mark 4:39 stilling the storm, John 2:7-11 turning water into wine.
• Power over physical disease: Mark 3:10 curing many
• Power over demons: Luke 4:31-37 commanding an evil spirit out of a man from Galilee.
• Power over death: John 11:43-44 raising Lazarus
• Incomparably great power: Eph. 1:19-21 power over all evil forces.
• Omniscient: Mark 2:8, John 2:25 he know what was in a man’s mind before he spoke
• Omnipresent: Matt 28:20 he promised to be with all His disciples to the end of the age
Jesus is the Center (Creator/Sustainer)
More evidence that Jesus is God
• Jesus is the Creator. Read John 1:3
• Jesus is the Sustainer of the universe. Read Heb. 1:3
• “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” Col 2:9
• As creator God, Jesus existed with the Father forever.
• Abraham rejoiced to see His coming. John 8:57-58 “before Abraham was born, I am!”
• Jesus accepted worship from men. Something that only God was due. (Doubting Thomas John 20:28)
Those with Jesus knew he was claiming to be God. Doing the things he did proved his claims were true.
Jesus is Fully Man
Jesus was not only fully God but also fully human.
Why did Christ need to be fully man?
1. To represent us on the cross.
2. To be the high priest who comforts and strengthens us and intercedes to the Father for us.
As a human he has experienced our human experiences.
What types of things did he experience?
• He got hungry and thirsty.
• He got weary.
• He needed sleep and refreshment.
• He experienced love and compassion.
• He was angry.
• He denounced those who refused the truth.
• He wept at the loss of a friend.
• He was troubled when he faced the cross.
Son of Man
Not only do we see Jesus act like a human but he also claims to be Human.
In the Gospels Jesus called Himself the “Son of Man” eighty times.
This phrase “Son of Man” is an assertion of humanity.
• Jesus’ humanity was unique in that it was complete.
What does this mean?
He did not have a sin nature. He did not sin. We will be like this in heaven.
• Jesus was both Human and divine.
We must believe both attributes but not emphasize either over the other.
Another Heresy: Mostly man or mostly God?
History is full of examples of heresies that misunderstand this point of both God and Man.
• Ebionites, early 2nd century, denied the deity of Christ.
• Docetists, later 2nd century, denied Jesus’ true humanity. His life was an illusion.
• The Arians, forerunners of today’s Unitarians (accepting the moral teachings but rejecting the divinity of Jesus).
This belief is current today in several major cults. Mormonism, Jehovah’s witness
• Apollinarians condemned at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. Jesus had true body and soul but the human mind was replaced by His divine being. Therefore he was not truly human.
• Nestorius, 5th century, emphasized distinctness of Christ’s two natures and denied a union of the two. Two natures in two persons.
• Eutychians denied 2 distinct natures. Human and Divine nature were absorbed into a 3rd nature. Condemned as heretical at the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.
Both Human and Divine
The question of 2 natures is complex and confusing.
Council of Chalcedon summed up the orthodox view.
In the one person, Jesus Christ
1. There are two natures, a human nature and a divine nature,
2. Each has its completeness and integrity, and
3. These two natures are organically and indissolubly united, so no third nature is formed.
4. The orthodox doctrine forbids us either to divide the person or confuse the natures.
View Chart in book for a clear overview.
The early church creeds did not try to explain this mystery. They just affirmed it.
Athanasius “He became what He was not; He continued to be what He was. ”
The working of the Holy Spirit is a major key in this dual nature of Christ.
Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit came upon him at baptism.
A proper knowledge of Christ’s person is crucial in understanding His work. If He were not the God-man, His work could not have eternal and personal significance for us.
Understanding Who Jesus is is only the first step.
We must also understand what he has done and is doing for those who believe.
Jesus not only could save men – He did.
A Perfect Man
Christ was a perfect man therefore he was without sin in thought word and deed.
Why is a perfect life necessary?
1. It qualified him to be the Old Testament Perfect Lamb therefore he was the sacrificial sin offering.
2. Perfect obedience was offered to God.
3. Through His obedience, Jesus became a qualified Mediator and High Priest for His people.
He was a man with a mission and he knew what it was. “Seek and save the lost” and “Give his life as a ransom for many”
Whimpering Men into Roaring Lions
Not only did Christ live and die but also He rose from the dead.
This little item makes all the difference. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. Mohammed is dead.
Jesus is risen. This is a historical fact.
Jesus predicted his death and resurrection (Mark 8:31, 10:32-34, Matt 16:21).
His disciples did not understand what he was talking about.
After seeing Jesus alive and being filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost the disciples proclaimed with boldness the truth of the resurrection. (See Peters witness in Acts 2.)
The Resurrection of Christ was a bodily resurrection.
He had a body.
He ate fish.
His body was a different body than his original body. He was able to pass through doors. Paul discusses resurrection body 1Cor.15
Resurrection: Fact, Not Fiction
Many have tried to explain away the resurrection.
What are some of the anti resurrection theories and what are the problems with them?
Swoon Theory: This would make Christ a deceiver.
They did not expect to see him rise.
Hallucinations do not occur on a mass scale. Drug induced purposeful altered state. This happened here.
No one would die for a lie
What is some evidence for the resurrection?
Christ appeared ten times. In one case too more than 500 people. This is pretty easy to verify. There is no evidence refuting this occasion.
The empty tomb
The revolutionized lives of the disciples
The Lords day
The existence of the Christian church
The current calendar
The transformed of countless lives today of people who have met Christ.
Four Resurrection Benefits to Us
1. The Resurrection fully confirms what Jesus taught and did.
• “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17)
• Because of the resurrection we know we are not trusting a myth. We can trust what Christ has said.
2. Jesus’ resurrection is the guarantee of our own resurrection.
• “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19)
• the grave is not our end, we shall be raised like he was raised
3. We know the body is in itself good, not inherently evil.
• Some say the body is inherently evil.
• Christ took on a body
• Our body is the template of our permanent glorified body like Christ
4. We have assurance of the power of Christ in life today.
• Christ is alive
• Christ gives power to our lives
• Christ brings our faith to life
Jesus’ Ascension and Exaltation
• Jesus not only predicted his death and resurrection but also his ascension and exaltation (John 6:62; 17:1)
• His exit from this live was as miraculous as his entrance. Acts 1:9-11
• His ascension and exaltation were necessary for the completion of His work of redemption.
• He has entered heaven as a forerunner for us (Heb.6:20) making our entrance possible.
• Now before God he is our High Priest and Advocate (Heb. 9:24 also 1 Tim. 2:5)
• His advocacy for us is unceasing (1John 2:1)
• Christ is now active for us before the throne of God.
He gives us Free Access to God
Because of Christ’s ascension and exaltation…
• We can approach the throne of grace with confidence (Heb 4:16)
• In the OT access to the presence of God was limited to…
one person- the high priest
one place – the holy of holies in the tabernacle
one time – the Day of Atonement.
• Because Christ is our High Priest in Heaven, each of us has access to the Creator at any time at any place.
This is why the curtain was torn in the tabernacle at Christ’s crucifixion. It is finished.
Truly Christianity is Christ!