Thursday, April 11, 2013
What Southern Baptists believe about God
1 Corinthians 8:6 "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him."
The Southern Baptist Convention's current statement of faith (2000 Baptist Faith & Message or BFM 2000) contains for its second article a statement about what Baptists believe about the True and Living God. The Preamble to the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 includes the following statement about the relationship between scripture and doctrinal statements: "That the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Confessions are only guides in interpretation, having no authority over the conscience."
With those remarks in mind, we now turn to the first part of Article II in the BFM 2000 statement about God, reproduced in its entirety:
"There is one and only one living and true God. He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe. God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections. God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures. To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience. The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being."
What I would like to do in today's blog is break down this marvelous statement in five headings: Divine Nature of God, Divine Names of God, Divine Attributes of God, Duties to God and the Divine Identity of God.1
1. Divine Nature of God.
The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (BFM 2000) states: "There is one and only one living and true God." Affirmed in this statement is the Biblical teaching of Monotheism or the belief in One God. God is One in existence, Unique in category, the Source of His own life and Ever true in His character. Clearly God is Unique and in a Category all His own, not dependant on any creature or creation (Holiness, Aseity), however there is a second parallel truth asserted in this statement: He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being....". The fact that God is a Personal God, interracting with His creation, is what theologians call "the immanence of God." The first part of what we just looked at deals with God in His separateness from creation, what theologians term "the transcedence of God." Immanence counterbalances transcendence, reminding us that God is ever present with His creation, as well as Infinitely above and separate from it.
2. Divine names of God
The BFM 2000 lists four main titles or names of God: "the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe." In all reality, these four names indicate the four main activities of God revealed across the pages of scripture. In Genesis He creates the heavens, the earth, life and man. Perservation describes His activity following the creation. Clearly God set into place the physical constants of the universe and is sustaining all of life. The third name or title, Redeemer, points to God's chief work in scripture - salvation.2 Then the final name, "Ruler", tells us how God reigns as Sovereign and exercises that reign by ruling providentially as the Creator, preserver and Ruler.
3. The Divine Attributes of God
The BFM 2000 states again: "God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures." The attributes of God shine as rays from the Divine Nature of God. Since God is all powerful (omnipotent) and all knowing (omniscient), His ability to know all things from beginning to end means He is Omnipresent (everywhere present). God is spoken of as having the ability to do what He does by both "means" and "ends". Since His knowledge extends infinitely backwards and forwards, that means there is an ultimate end for which He created all things: His glory. So the question is: how is it that God has ordained to accomplish His ends? Answer: through the decisions of His free creatures. Without cancelling out the Biblical teaching of human responsibility, the BFM 2000 attempts to preserve the two truths of God's Sovereignty and human responsibility.
4. Duties to God
So what duty or responsibility does man have to this glorious God spoken of in scripture? The BFM 2000 attempts to answer: "To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience." The first duty "highest love" refers to the Great commandment spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 22:37. The second speaks of the proper end of love - reverence. Then finally, obedience, speaks of the means by which we carry out the highest love and reverence - namely through obedience. Truly our duties to God should lead to delight in God, which measures how much we have grasped the significance and greatness of God's glory in the faith-walk.
5. The Divine Identity of God
We have looked at what kind of God God is in the first three headings, as well as observing the proper response to this God. However who is He? The God of Biblical revelation is revealed as having a Three-fold identity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The BFM 2000 explains: "The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being." For sake of space I will not comment much more, since the statement adequately conveys what the scripture teaches on God being One God existing as Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I hope today's post has edified your spirit and excited your thoughts toward thinking more about who God is. If you would like to look further into this particular article in the BFM 2000, go to the Southern Baptist Convention website: www.sbc.net. Once on the site, click on the left side tab marked "Statement of Faith" and you will find the complete document of the BFM 2000 with every scripture reference. May God richly bless you this day.
1. Anytime we study the nature of God, we term such a study "Theology Proper", since out of all the subjects that can be studied, God is the most supreme. Theology Proper includes the doctrines of the nature of God, the names and attributes of God, the Trinity, Patrology or the study of God the Father, Christology or the study of Christ the Son and Pneumatology or the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
2. He planned redemption, sent His Son who had agreed in Eternity to come through the virgin birth to be incarnated as a sinless human being. The purpose of the incarnation was so that God the Son could purchase redemption by the shedding of blood. The Holy Spirit agreeing to apply to all who by grace through faith believe.