Saturday, July 30, 2016

P2 Briefly reflecting on spiritual gifts in the Bible

1 Corinthians 12:1-4 "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit."

We considered yesterday some beginning thoughts on spiritual gifts in the Bible. Today's post takes up four additional headings that aid us in understanding what the scriptures have to teach on this subject. The first three headings we considered yesterday were:

1. Spiritual gifts are taught throughout the Bible

2. Spiritual gifts are graces or gracings from God

3. Spiritual gifts are given at salvation
Today we will consider four final principles that aid us in grasping the basics of what the Bible teaches on spiritual gifts. 

The Holy Spirit is the Agent of the gifts
1 Corinthians 12:4 states - "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit." 
We see all three Persons of the Trinity involved in the spiritual gifts in the main passages that speak on the subject of the spiritual gifts in the New Testament. 

For example, 1 Corinthians 12:4-5 outlines accordingly: 

a. The Agent of the gifts is the Spirit

b. The Administrator of the ministries in which the gifts will be used is the Son 

c. The Effects produced by the gifts are regulated by the Father. 

All Three Persons of course are One God that acts as the Agent, Administrator and Affector of the work of the graces or gifts. The Spirit in particular is the Agent of the gifts, meaning that He is the One who Sovereignly distributes and directs where the gifts go and to whom they go. Romans 12:3-7, when read in concert with 1 Corinthians 12:1-6, affirms the Divine authority and identity of the Spirit as the Agent of the gifts. This is also why the gifts are called "spiritual gifts", being that their distribution is regulated directly by the Holy Spirit Himself. 

The gifts are designed to bless the body of Christ and to minister the Gospel to the lost
Key Biblical texts on spiritual gifts support this two-fold thought. Romans 12:5-6a "5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly...". 1 Corinthians 14:1 communicates - "Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." Why? Because gifts such as prophecy (which I would say is in reference to the supernatural gifting in preaching the Word in ways that relevantly and pointedly challenge the church) serve to edify the church body, a theme repeated by Paul throughout 1 Corinthians 14:3,4,5,12 and 17. 

Paul writes these words about the spiritual gifts of various spiritual leaders in Ephesians 4:12 "for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ." Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:10 - "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

Clearly the spiritual gifts are for the purpose of edifying the body, as well as bearing witness of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. In each of those main passages on the spiritual gifts, we see reference to using the gifts properly so as to bear witness to unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14:20-24) Paul speaks of how the Lord gives among the official giftings the office of the evangelist in Ephesians 4:11. 1 Peter 4:6 prefaces Peter's discussion on spiritual gifts with these words - "For the gospel has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the spirit according to the will of God." 

Indeed, the spiritual gifts, in their diversity and supernatural power, can beautifully demonstrate the life of God pulsating through believers to those to whom we witness.

The spiritual gifts are given for the glory of God
The main point of the spiritual gifts (or gracings) are not to bring attention to the person exercising them, but to the One who gave them. 1 Peter 4:11 notes - "Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Spiritual gifts are discovered through God-given abilities, opportunities and burdens
As we noted earlier, spiritual gifts or graces are given at the moment of one's conversion. However, the process of defining and discovery takes time. 

Closing thoughts
We have considered the following seven headings that summarize the Bible's teaching on spiritual gifts:
1. Spiritual gifts are taught throughout the Bible

2. Spiritual gifts are graces or gracings from God

3. Spiritual gifts are given at salvation

4. The Holy Spirit is the Agent of the gifts

5. The gifts are designed to bless the body of Christ and to minister the Gospel to the lost

6. The spiritual gifts are given for the glory of God

7. Spiritual gifts are discovered through God-given abilities, opportunities and burdens

Friday, July 29, 2016

P1 Reflecting briefly on spiritual gifts in the Bible

1 Corinthians 12:1-4 "Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit."

Today we will consider in brief what the New Testament teaches on the subject of spiritual gifts. May the reader find these headings useful, since they include the key Biblical texts on spiritual gifts that are without question profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16).

1. Spiritual gifts are taught throughout the Bible
The first thought to note is that spiritual gifts are not just a New Testament phenomenon. In Exodus 31:1-3 we find one of the earliest mentions: "Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship." 

When God called Noah, or Moses or Solomon to build the ark, tabernacle and temple, did these men do it by their own ingenuity? Hardly. They were supernaturally graced or gifted by God in the Person of the Holy Spirit to do so. The Old Testament sets the pattern, from the offices of the priesthood and prophet, to the abilities given on occasion to perform miracles or speak forth prophecies. Such giftings from God paved the way for what would be the more fuller and abiding character of the gifts revealed in the New Testament.

2. Spiritual gifts are graces or gracings from God
The word we render "gifts" could more accurately be translated "gracings" or "graces". When we use the term "gifts", we are speaking of the manner in which God distributes His graces to His people - namely in a free and Sovereign manner.

3. Spiritual gifts are given at salvationWhenever you read 1 Corinthians 12:1-4, the understanding is that all of the spiritual graces or gifts are given to the believer at conversion. The issue of course comes in our discovery and awareness of those gifts. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 reinforces this point - "For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."

These are a few of the thoughts we can mention on the subject of spiritual gifts. In the next post we will consider three additional thoughts.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

P3 Why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e

Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

The last couple of posts have endeavored to answer the question: "why is God worthy of praise?" We have considered four reasons from Romans 11:33-35

Power of God
Revelation of Jesus Christ
Attributes of God
Inspired Scriptures

In Romans 11:36 we are taken to the peak of Paul's mountain of praise: "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." Only when God's grace is brought to the eyes and senses of the sinner can the conclusion be drawn: "God is worthy of praise". Moreover, the converted heart finds the power of God, revelation of Jesus, attributes of God and inspired scriptures as desirable and worthy of praise and thanks to God. Today we will consider two final reasons why God is worthy of praise to complete our acrostic p.r.a.i.s.e.

Spirit of God
In Romans 11:33-36 we find that the Holy Spirit is the Person within the Godhead who brings to us the greatness of God. This idea of the Holy Spirit being the Ambassador of God's Greatness has been written about in past posts, as referenced in the link here: 

Without the Person and work of the Holy Spirit brought "down" to us, the greatness of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ would never be personally accessible. Apart from the Holy Spirit, no person could truly say "God is great". The Spirit of God is the fifth reason for why we can say God is worthy of praise. Now let's consider one final reason...

Excellency of His Being
Romans 11:36 is truly like a little Bible in one verse. "From Him" speaks of God as Creator; "Through Him" points to His work in redemption and "To Him" brings us to His culminating history and eternity unto Himself through the second person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ. What if God had not created the world, or provided redemption or had plans to bring history to a close: would He still be worthy of praise? Yes. Why? God is great whether the world exists or not. This fact about God is what makes Him God: He in and of Himself is great and worthy of praise. The excellency of His being, within Himself, apart from all other things, makes God worthy of praise. His actions only amplify this reality of God's greatness.

Closing thoughts
We have considered over the last few posts why God is worthy of praise from Romans 11:33-36. We looked at the following six reasons as to why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e

Power of God
Revelation of Jesus Christ
Attributes of God
Inspired scriptures
Spirit of God
Excellency of His being

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

P2 Why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e

Romans 11:33-35 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

In our last post we considered why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e. This, in all honesty, ought to be obvious. God, after all, is the Greatest Conceivable Being. He is Maximally Great, possessing great-making properties such as omniscience, omnipotence and omnipresence. Just as people who conclude the Grand Canyon to be a good enough destination to travel thousands of miles because of its "worthiness" of being a vacation spot, God far exceeds His creation and ought to be seen as most supremely worthy. Sadly, sin and the fall have rendered our spiritual eyes blind and our spiritual senses dead. What "ought" to be obvious ends up being ignored by the unbeliever. Authors such as the late Christopher Hitchens will write books like "God is not Great" to express the epitome of unbelieving man's attitude toward God. The Holy Spirit of God is necessary to open eyes and resurrect the spiritual senses for people to see God as worthy of praise.

We saw yesterday that God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e due to His power and the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Today we carry on to contemplate more reasons why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e.

Power of God
Revelation of Jesus Christ

Attributes of God
We see God's characteristics or attributes mentioned in Romans 11:33-35. God's knowledge, wisdom, judgments and ways are described as "unsearchable" and "unfathomable". In verse 35 we find reference to God's mind, as well as indirect reference to the Trinity by mention of the Person of the Holy Spirit. God's qualities act as rays of the sun directing our spiritual eyes and senses back to the source. We experience God's energies, which are the sum of His essence, which no man has seen nor can see (1 Timothy 6:16). God's revelation in Jesus enables us to truly know God in the Person of the Son and His power demonstrates His worthiness to be praised. Hence, God's attributes are cause for praise. But now let's notice a fourth reason...

Inspired Scriptures
The Apostle Paul's doxology in Romans 11:33-35 is a quotation of verses from Isaiah 40:13 and Job. God has seen fit to disclose Himself in three primary ways: general revelation in creation, fullness of revelation in Jesus and special revelation in the scriptures. God's wisdom and voice is conveyed by them (Psalm 19:7-14). It is by the scriptures that God conveys His will (2 Peter 1:20-21); gives His instructions (2 Timothy 3:16); exercises His authority (1 Timothy 4:13-16) and reveals His redemptive purposes. Paul's doxology expresses all that Paul has concluded from his own inspired letter to the Romans as well as the other texts quoted in his writings. 

So God is worthy of praise due to...

Power of God
Revelation of Jesus Christ
Attributes of God
Inspired Scriptures

Next time we will consider two final reasons from Romans 11:33-36 as to why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

P1 Why God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

The Apostle Paul closes out his supreme exposition of the Gospel in Romans with the explosion of praise we find in Romans 11:33-36. As one studies over this explosion of praise that is called a "doxology", the clear message is this: God is worthy of praise. This stretch of verses represents one of the most amazing statements about God found anywhere in the Bible. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 notes the following about God with respect to worship: "To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience."

Today we want to begin considering why God is worthy of praise by taking that word p.r.a.i.s.e and spelling out six reasons why God is worthy of our praise. We will draw mainly from Romans 1-11, since the doxology occurs following Paul's masterful exposition and prior to his practical section of Romans 12-16. 

So why is God worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e? Let's consider firstly the...

Power of God. 
God's power is the first reason we can give as to why God is worthy of our praise. Romans 1:20 describes how God's power is known to all people: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen,being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." God's power is the source behind the Gospel (Romans 1:16). The power of God is described in scripture is displayed in the heavens (Psalm 19:1-6) and is responsible for the beginning of the universe (Psalm 33:6). God's power amazes the angelic hosts, prompting them to exclaim how God is worthy of all praise in Revelation 4-5. 

God's power is displayed in creation and in the many miracles recorded throughout the scripture. God's deliverance of the Israelites across the Red Sea is testified throughout the Old Testament as God's supreme Old Testament display of redemptive power in the Old Testament. 

In the New Testament we find God's power being most supremely displayed through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (Acts 1:1-2; Romans 1:1-3). Is it no wonder that Paul writes what he does in Romans 11:33? God's power is the first reason for explaining why God is worthy of praise. 

Now lets consider one more reason before concluding our post today.........

Revelation of God in Jesus Christ
Again we refocus our attention on Paul's words in Romans 11:33 "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" Think about what Paul has been writing about: God's revelation of salvation in Jesus Christ. We find the praise-worthiness of God explained most fully in what some have termed the "four-number-ones" of the New Testament: John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:13-16; Hebrews 1:1-3; Revelation 1. In these "four-number-ones" we discover masterful expositions about the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We could add Romans 1:1-7 as that "fifth-number-one", since the Person and work of Christ is shown to be the center-piece of the Gospel. As Paul carries on through Romans 1-11, we find the Lord Jesus Christ as the cause for praise. The desperation of all human beings separated from God in old Adam is contrasted with the hope believers find in Jesus - the New Adam (see Romans 5). 

In Romans 9:4-5, we discover: "who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen." 

Jesus' unparalleled life, substitutionary death and glorious resurrection are great cause of praise to God. Jesus Christ is God-incarnate. To praise Jesus is to praise God. God's power and revelation in Jesus Christ are two reasons for saying that God is worthy of p.r.a.i.s.e. 

More next time.......

Monday, July 25, 2016

How the Holy Spirit acts as the Ambassador of God's Greatness

Isaiah 40:13-14 "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,Or as His counselor has informed Him? 14 With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge And informed Him of the way of understanding?"

When I was growing up at home there was a period of time where we had the opportunity to become acquainted with what I would call “an ambassador of goodness”, otherwise known as “The Schwan’s ice cream man”. Whenever Friday would come, my sister and I knew that in addition to finishing up school, we would get to sometimes see that yellow and white truck back into our drive way. My dad would go out to greet this diplomat of the tastiest frozen desserts this side of eternity (I don’t think I exaggerate). 

Back then as a boy I had no trouble eating as much ice cream as I could stomach. My dad quickly developed the habit of eating ice cream for his lunch, all thanks to the goods delivered by the Schwan’s ice cream man. While we received these bi-weekly visits from the “Schwan’s” home deliver truck, I soon began to notice the commercials on T.V and then it dawned on me: “hey, that guy is delivering to us what is on the commercial”. As a young boy, all of this was an amazing experience. We thought we had it good with the ice cream from the store. However, when the Schwan’s man came into our lives with his frozen treasures of ice cream, why would anyone want to turn back?

No one back then needed to convince me to get excited about home-delivery of Schwan's ice-cream. Why? Because of the Schwan's ice cream man. When it comes to the desire to worship God, can we in our flesh see that God is worthy of worship? It that were the case, no one would need the Holy Spirit.  

Today’s post aims to show how the Holy Spirit, the Ambassador of God’s greatness, brings down to people this great truth – namely that God is great, and greatly to be praised. So as we shall see, our main point of application will be that: the Ambassador of God’s greatness brings to you and me the greatness of God. 

Who is the Holy Spirit
Just like the Schwan’s ice cream man who brought to my family and me the “goodness of ice cream”, the Person of the Holy Spirit as the Ambassador of God’s greatness brings to us the greatness of God. To give us some friendly reminders from scripture regarding the Holy Spirit: First, The Holy Spirit is not a force, nor a “it”, but a “He”, a Person Who acts as “God coming to us”. (John 14:16-17; 15:26-27; 16:12-13) 

Secondly, the Holy Spirit is a sharer in the Divine nature with the Father and Son and thus is God. (Psalm 139:7; Matt 28:19; Acts 5:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:17) 

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit brings forth the life and energy of the Father’s purposes that are structured by the Son. (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104; Romans 8) With those quick reminders, we can note that all of creation sees God’s greatness from afar in the sky above (Psalm 19:1-3). Humanity in particular knows about God within the conscience (Romans 2:15). However, The Holy Spirit brings God to us because He Himself is God. He gives the sinner a heart to worship God because He is gloriously God Himself.

The Holy Spirit is the Ambassador of God's Greatness
The Christian life begins with a visitation from what we could call "The Ambassador of the Trinity" - The Holy Spirit. Who is the Ambassador of God’s greatness. When I speak of this One and only “Ambassador of God’s Greatness”, I am speaking of the Holy Spirit. Romans 11:33-36 spells out more clearly than any other scripture the greatness of our God. As we already mentioned, only when the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds and transforms our hearts will we then delight to enjoy God's greatness. As Christians, we must ever be led by and filled by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). He has been given as the deposit of the fuller and richer reality of God's future for His people - since He Himself is God (Ephesians 1:13-14). Because of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, the ability and desire to worship God is made a reality for the Christian. May we delight in the greatness of God by depending on the Ambassador - The Holy Spirit. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Four Amazing Truths about God's Eternal Presence

Revelation 4:1-3 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance.

As the Apostles John is taken by the Spirit of God into this incredible place, the four underlined phrases in the text tells us four things about God's Eternal presence. Heaven is undoubtedly God-centered. This vision of John, stretching for two chapters, confirms just how God-centered of a place that Heaven is and will be.  Please note the four truths of God's eternal presence revealed in these four verses:

1. Unendingly Holy.  The very first thing that John experiences in this vision of the Heavenly throneroom is the sound of a trumpet.  The sound of a trumpet in the Bible is often associated with God's revelation of Himself. We see this for example in His touching down atop Mount Sinai in Exodus 19, when He revealed the Law of God to Moses and Israel.  At the end of Hebrews 12 we read of that same scene from Exodus 19, wherein the the mountain shook at the sound of the loud trumpet-call of God's voice.  The sights and sounds were so terrifying that the Hebrews, gathered around the base of Mount Sinai, begged Moses to speak to them, rather than God.  No doubt, God is unendingly Holy - whether revealed on earth or in Heaven.

2. Unquestionably Sovereign.  God is not only Holy, but Sovereign.  To be Sovereign simply means that God is in comprehensive control of all places at all times.  Again we are reminded of previous visions and revelations of God in scripture.  Isaiah, the prophet, saw God seated upon a throne.  Ezekiel, another prophet of Israel, saw God seated upon the throne with shining wheels.  Daniel, the prophet thrown into a lions' den, sees God as the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7.  No matter what time we look at in redemptive history in the Bible, God is on His throne.  As Psalm 47:8 records - "God reigneth over the Heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of His holiness."

3. Undeniably Precious.  John sees in this vision a set of precious stones in the description of God's glory recorded in this chapter.  The use of precious stones in the Bible points to the goodness, the eternal value of God.  He is the Good God, worthy of our worship.  1 Peter 2:7 reminds us that this Lord, Jesus Christ, is precious to those who believe.  The presence of these stones in John's vision hearken back to the precious stones worn by the High Priest as he represented the nation of Israel before the Holy presence of God.  God is so good as to provide for us Representation.  He has done so in the Person of the Eternal High Priest - Jesus Christ - who is called the chief, precious cornerstone (please compare 1 Peter 2:7).

4. Unfathomably Faithful.  The final detail we will focus on today is the rainbow situated around the throne.  Why a rainbow?  If you will recall what God revealed to Noah back in Genesis 9:12-16 - He revealed to Noah a Rainbow.  That Rainbow was a sign that God would never destroy the world with a flood of watery wrath.  Likewise, all who by grace through faith trust in Christ as Savior, Lord and Treasure, personally experience the faithfulness of this unendingly holy, unquestionably Sovereign and undeniably precious God. Believers in Jesus Christ has the promise that when they approach the throne - the blood of Christ shed for them will protect them from the coming wrath of God on this world (please compare 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 2 Peter 3). He not only is faithful to our future, but also our present. God has promised to never leave nor forsake His people. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

P2 Jesus' teaching on the New Birth in John 3:1-21

John 3:1-3 "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Yesterday we considered Jesus' conversation with Nicodemas and His teaching on the New Birth. We noted the following two enabling realities of the New Birth:

1. The New Birth enables one to see the unseen Kingdom. John 3:1-3

2. The New Birth enables one to access the inaccessible Kingdom. John 3:4-5

Today's post aims to conclude our look at this watershed conversation between Jesus and Nicodemas. In other words, what other enabling qualities does Jesus teach concerning the new birth? 

The new birth is enabled by the Holy Spirit. John 3:6-8
Jesus' remarks about the agency of the Holy Spirit in the new birth reminds us that we as human beings cannot bring about this miracle. Just as it works in the case of natural birth, whereby the infant is born by causes outside of itself, in like manner the work of the new birth is wrought by the agency of the Holy Spirit. 

For certain, the miracle of regeneration never occurs apart from faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). People are not simply "zapped" by God's saving work apart from their willing participation and trust. With that said, how is it that, on the one hand, the unwilling sinner running away from God suddenly turns to Jesus in faith while on the other hand, the sinner is brought to saving faith without forced coercion by God? 

For starters, the logical and theological priorities of regeneration and faith tells us that the Holy Spirit is the One who makes the first move, with faith quickly on the heels of such a work. In practice of course, one cannot discern the orderings of the work of regeneration and the response of faith, since both occur at the same moment. 

In other words, the Spirit's regenerating work and the response of faith are, practically speaking, simultaneous. To borrow Jesus' word-picture of the Spirit's work of regeneration as comparable to that of the wind, think of the wind blowing leaves on an Autumn day. We cannot divorce one from another in practice, even though in the logical scheme of things the leaves would not move lest the wind was coursing its way upon the ground. It would seem this is as close as one can get to understanding this relationship between regeneration and faith. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000's article on regeneration (see above) spells how this relationship seems to operate. 

Reflection on other scriptures reveal the Holy Spirit's enabling agency in the new birth:

a. The Holy Spirit imparts the nature of God into the believer that is responsible for the new birth (John 3:5-6; 1 Peter 1:23)

b. The Holy Spirit brings down the presence of God that characterizes the new birth (John 3:7; James 1:17-18)

c. The Holy Spirit brings in the life of God as fresh air in the new birth (John 3:7-8; Titus 3:5)

d. The Holy Spirit imparts the miracle of regeneration in the context of saving faith (John 3:1-8; 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9)

So we've seen how the Holy Spirit enables the new birth to begin, as well as how the new birth enables one to see the unseen kingdom and enter the inaccessible Kingdom. Let's now consider two more truths about the new birth...

The new birth enables understanding of the things of God
John 3:9-12
As Jesus continues on with his discussion, he takes Nicodemas back to the text of Numbers 21. In that chapter we find the people of God being bitten by serpents as a result of their murmurings and disobedience. God tells Moses to fashion a bronze serpent that will be placed upon a pole and which will function as a remedy to heal the snake-bite of those who look upon it. 

The remedy is sufficient for all, and yet the promise of God and His saving power will only work in those who actually gaze upon it in desperate hope. Jesus' point in this illustration is to show Nicodemas that such an earthly physical illustration and its spiritual significance as a act of God can be discerned once the heart has been changed. 

The New Birth brings with it the ability to understand and embrace the things of God. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words."

So the New Birth enables understanding of the things of God, is wrought by the Spirit of God and enables seeing the unseen and entering the inaccessible kingdom of God. As a final thought, we can note...

The New Birth is experienced by saving faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:13-21
The whole point of these closing remarks by Jesus to Nicodemas is to bring home the reality and relationship of saving faith to the New Birth. In truth, John 3:1-12 and 3:13-21 function as two distinct parts on one conversation, with 3:9-12 transitioning from the New Birth to the relationship of saving faith to it. We have already labored to show how saving faith is necessary for their to be a New Birth. We could add that the Holy Spirit is the Agent of the New Birth and that faith is the means of receiving such. 

Faith is a divine gifting from God that transforms into a free-decision of the human will at salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). The faith one exercises in salvation is that person's volitional trust or free-decision. Such a decision or trust in Jesus Christ occurs in the context of the working of the Holy Spirit in the human heart. This is what was mentioned earlier concerning the new birth and faith. In practical terms, the new birth and faith are simultaneous. Ultimately, one cannot have one without the other. 

Just as light from the sun cannot occur without the sun itself, faith cannot occur apart from the working of the Spirit. Faith is the reaching up of the hand of man to receive the graceful hand of salvation extended to them by Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit opens eyes and unstops hears to discern where this hand of grace is and from whence it is coming. In saving faith, I do reach out to God, but only because He in love first reached down to me (see 1 John 4:19).

Closing thoughts
We have considered Jesus' conversation with Nicodemas and His teaching on the New Birth. We noted the following five enabling realities of the New Birth:

1. The New Birth enables one to see the unseen Kingdom. John 3:1-3

2. The New Birth enables one to access the inaccessible Kingdom. John 3:4-5

3. The New Birth is enabled by the Holy Spirit. John 3:6-8

4. The New Birth enables understanding of the things of God. John 3:9-12

5. The New Birth is experienced by saving faith in Jesus Christ. John 3:13-21. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

P1 Jesus' teaching on the New Birth in John 3:1-21

John 3:1-3 "Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Today's post aims to consider what Jesus meant when he spoke of being "born-again". This phrase "born-again" is referred to by a couple of other similarly related titles, such as the "new birth" or God having "begat us" (James 1:18). Peter of course uses the term "born-again" to refer to the beginning of salvation (1 Peter 1:23). The Apostle Paul uses phrases such as "washing of rebirth" and "regeneration" (Titus 3:5); "new creation" or "new creature in Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:17). To be sure, the Old Testament had a less-potent version of the miracle of regeneration in what it called "circumcision of the heart" (Deut 10:16; Jer 4:4). Such a lesser-version of the change of heart indicated that salvation still operated in the same ordering fashion: God's grace alone through faith alone in His Promise of salvation. The Old Testament prophecies of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 pointed to a time when the much fuller and more robust version of a Divinely wrought change of heart (i.e regeneration or the New birth) would occur. 

These introductory remarks will serve to give us background to all that Jesus and Nicodemas would discuss in their evening conversation about the miracle of the New Birth. The Baptist Faith and Message gives the following definition of regeneration or the New Birth: "Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God's grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace."

So having defined the New Birth and its synonyms, we can now enter briefly into John's narrative of the Master teaching Nicodemas about the nature of the New Birth. We will consider what Jesus has to say about the new birth by noting what the new birth enables or makes possible with respect to salvation.

1. The New Birth enables one to see the unseen Kingdom. John 3:1-3
By the time we reach this point in John's Gospel, Jesus' private world and public life have fully splashed onto the canvas of 1st century Jewish life. Jesus has already done His first miracle, was announced as the Lamb of God by John the Baptist and has cleansed the temple within the first two chapters. It is clear that Jesus has captured the watchful eye of the Jewish authorities. Nicodemas' meeting with the Lord under the cloak of evening is as much intentional as it is for fear of being noticed by his peers. At bear minimum, Nicodemas recognizes the Divine favor that rests on Jesus miracle working power, something of which he could had said about Old Testament prophets such as Moses or Elijah. 

But Jesus is very quick to point out that Nicodemas' seemingly profound insight falls far short. In essence, Jesus exposes what are the limitations of the religious mind and the reasoning intellect: namely what one can gather through the five senses. Jesus states in John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” When a person experience the miracle of salvation - regeneration - in saving faith through the Gospel, the eyes of understanding are opened. The Apostle Paul writes concerning natural-minded inability to perceive correctly the things of God in 1 Corinthians 2:14 "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised."
The Kingdom of God is God's pervasive influence and Sovereign reign in the affairs of men, over the whole universe and in the hearts of His people. The Kingdom is by nature unseen. Only a converted, regenerated heart can see the unseen and grasp such by faith. For poor old Nicodemas, this bit of news unsettled him in his religious posturing and caused him to inquire Jesus further. 

So, the New birth enables one to see the unseen Kingdom. Now notice secondly...

2. The New Birth enables one to access the inaccessible Kingdom. John 3:4-5
Nicodemas attempts to discern Jesus' statement regarding "born again". Surprisingly, Nicodemas, a theologian of the Old Testament, misses the connection between Jesus' statement and the predictions of the New Covenant ministry of the Holy Spirit in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 36-37. Nicodemas takes Jesus' statements literally and proposes that he might mean some bizarre form of a fully-developed person crawling into his mother's womb. Jesus wasted no time in mildly rebuking Nicodemas and referencing back to those New Covenant texts in the Old Testament. 

Without going into much detail, the Old Testament predicted that the New Covenant age would be marked by the Holy Spirit indwelling His people and changing them from the inside out. The power to live Godly lives would be granted. Such images as water, wind and other word-pictures were used by Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other prophets to convey to their Jewish audiences about the pending reality of the coming New Testament era. Jesus indicated by his words and ministry that such a New Covenant age had dawned in His arrival and Person. The miracle of regeneration or the New Birth would enable entry into the invisible Kingdom. We could say that one could enjoy and experience God's invisible Kingdom rule and power in a manner hither-to-fore unknown by the Old Testament saint.  

The Apostle Paul references the miracle of the New Birth with respect to the Kingdom of God in Romans 10:6-10 that sheds light on Jesus' comments: 

"But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7 or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

So the New Birth enables one to see the unseen Kingdom and to access this otherwise inaccessible kingdom.

More tomorrow......

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Some thoughts on God's omnipotence

Romans 11:36 "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

The last couple of posts have introduced the reader to God's attributes of omniscience and omnipresence. In those introductions we have also taken time to consider what we mean when we speak of God's attributes. It must be underscored once again that God is the sum of all His attributes. In saying such a thing, if I speak for instance of God being omniscient, I necessarily assume and include His other equally infinite characteristics. In other words, within the "ray" if you will of God's omniscience I also glimpse shining forth within and from His essence His other qualities. 

Such attributes function as His energies that lead the worshiper to know of but to never comprehend God in His essence. Although this blogger doesn't subscribe to everything taught within the branch of Christendom known as the "Eastern Orthodox" church, yet there are nuggets that one can find in their writings. The contemporary Eastern Orthodox theologian, Bishop Kallistos Ware, writes concerning God's essence and energies: "By the essence of God is meant His otherness, by the energies His nearness. Because God is mystery beyond our understanding, we shall never know His essence or inner being, either in this life or the age to come. If we knew the Divine essence, it would follow that we knew God in the same way as He knows himself; and this we cannot never do, since He is Creator and we are created. But, while God's inner essence is forever beyond our comprehension, his energies, grace, life and power fill the whole universe, and are directly accessible to us." Certain scriptural passages bear out the truth spoken of by the Bishop (Jude 1:24-25)

Indeed to know God and yet not comprehend Him in all His fullness of Being or essence sets the inaccessible boundary of distinction between God and His creation. Thankfully, scripture reveals that such a boundary, though ever distinguishing God from us, nonetheless was crossed by God in the Person of the Son by way of His incarnation. If God had not come in the Person of Jesus, then in one respect, we would know God only by His energies mentioned above. For the Christian, God is truly known by the incarnation of the Son in Jesus of Nazareth. 

God is not some remote object that would leave us at best in some sort of odd agnosticism, whereby we would know there is a God and yet could never say whether or not we can ever know anything about Him. Yet, as Bishop Ware notes in his same book: "Jesus Christ is our window into the Divine realm, showing us what God is. "No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has made Him known to us." 

Today's post aims to introduce the reader to the third major attribute of God mentioned in Psalm 139: God's omnipotence.

God is Omnipotent. Psalm 139:13-16
In the nature of the consistent portrait of God revealed in the Bible, we find that in talking about the plurality of His identity, we once again are brought back to the oneness of His being. All the pronouns for "you" in these verses are singular, demonstrating that the Psalmist here is talking about One God. This One God is all powerful (also called "Omnipotent"). God in His omnipotence has the ability to penetrate time, space and to orchestrate all things. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit share this ability equally and without division.

A.W Tozer in his seminal book: "The Knowledge of the Holy" writes concerning God's omnipotence: "Sovereignty and omnipotence must go together. Once cannot exist without the other. To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power. And that is what omnipotence means, having all power." 

As we consider God's omnipotence spelled out in Psalm 139:13-16, we can note the following:

a. God demonstrates His omnipotence in the realm of life. Psalm 139:13-16a.
The mystery of life's origin demands a supernatural, rather than a natural origin. Only an omnipotent Creator could act in and through the secondary means of human reproduction to ignite human conscience, intelligence and personality. God's omnipotence also extends down into the atomic and sub-atomic realms (Colossians 1:13-16). The interactions between sub-atomic particles and the complex quantum mechanical laws and equations to explain such phenomena testify to the far-reaching power of Almighty God. God's omnipotence reaches the mid-sized created realm of human beings as well as the sub-atomic realm of the very small. 

b. God's omnipotence extends over the vast stretches of the universe and history. Psalm 139:16b
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:16b 
"And in Your book were all writtenThe days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." God's omnipotence extends over the vast stretches of the cosmos. Time and space itself lie under His Providence. To govern time is to govern space and henceforth all that lies within the universe, humanity, life and all things. God and God alone wields such influence. For the Psalmist to acknowledge God's omniscience with respect to His knowledge of the future is to acknowledge His omnipotence and omnipresence as well. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 notes: "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." 

Closing thoughts
In bringing the true practical meaning of this attribute home to the Christian, Tozer writes: "Omnipotence is not a name given to the sum of all power, but an attribute of a personal God whom we Christians believe to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all who believe on Him to eternal life. The worshiping man finds this knowledge as source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take the great leap upward into the fellowship of Him who can do whatever He wills to do, for whom nothing is hard or difficult because He possesses power absolute." God's omnipotence is only bounded by God's nature. We must recall that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18) nor be wrong (John 17:17) nor ever be unfaithful to His people (Hebrews 13:5), which is why on pains of His nature we assert the infallibility and inerrancy of the scriptures as He originally revealed. Nothing in the created realm limits God. He and He alone is God. Let us then worship Him today that is the One, omnipotent Creator, Redeemer and Ruler of the universe. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Focusing a little bit more on God's attributes and His omnipresence

Psalm 139:7-12 Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."
Yesterday we considered some introductory thoughts to God's omniscience. We also considered what we mean when we speak of God's attributes. An attribute, as we saw from G.W.T Shedd in his systematic theology, refers to the activity and function of God's very essence or being. To bring a little more clarity to our understanding of attributes, the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, page 492, speaks of attributes and their relationship to any object or person as: "essential qualities that belong or inhere in it." If our understanding runs short in grasping what we mean when we talk of God's attributes, the analogy of the sun to its rays may aid in picturing this relationship. God cannot be God without His attributes. God's attributes or characteristics are what He is. 

Oftentimes theologians will distinguish God's absolute or eternal attributes (omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence) from what are His moral attributes (holiness, justice, goodness). Another distinction that if often-times made has to do in how we know God in His relationship to us. There are those attributes of God that totally place Him in a category all by Himself. Those attributes (like omniscience, self-sufficiency) are unique to God and thus are "incommunicable". Other attributes which describe us in measure and God in full measure are what we call "communicable attributes". 

Now why this discussion on attributes? Because in Psalm 139 we see God and all of His major attributes on display. We looked yesterday at God's omniscience. Today we want to consider, in an introductory sense, God's omnipresence or the fact that He is everywhere present. It is hoped that our discussion of attributes will aid us in the chief point of these posts - namely in focusing our attention on the greatness of God. 

God is everywhere or omnispresent. Psalm 139:7-12
God is without a doubt One God. Here in Psalm 139:7-12 we are given insight into the fact that God in regards to identity is not just One Person but Three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In other words, God is "One what and three who's). The Person called here in Psalm 139 "God" (the New Testament uniformly refers to this First Person as "The Father") is distinct from a Personage called in Psalm 139:7 "Your Spirit".  The truth of God's plural identity is likened unto a faint outline in the Old Testament and presented in full vivid color in the New Testament. 

Why bring up the Trinity? because God's ability to be everywhere present (i.e omnipresence) requires the teaching of the Trinity to ensure we don't mix up the distinction the Bible holds between the Creator and His creation. The Father in Heaven is able to affect everything everywhere because He is sharing the same infinite nature with the Spirit Who represents His presence both in Heaven and on earth.

Psalm 139:7 has the Psalmist posing this question: "Where can I go from Your Spirit?Or where can I flee from Your presence?" The remainder of Psalm 139:8-12 then mentions supposed places that would be impossible to access - and yet are nothing for God. Whenever we think we are inaccessible, God is ever able to get to us. His presence permeates all of creation and yet He is distinct from it. As the Father in Heaven, the Spirit here on earth and the Son functioning as the Mediator between the Father and man, we find the totality of God within and truly expressed in and each of the Persons of the Trinity. 

Now why is this applicable to you and me? To know that God is omnipresent means I am never alone. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I may very well walk through dark seasons, yet God ever sees me as clearly as in those seasons where everything is smooth and light. Considering God's attributes and such qualities as His omnipresence causes us to rise above the smog of circumstances and to see them as He sees them. So much more could be said, however, let us for now just praise God for the fact He is omnipresent.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Some introductory thoughts about God's omniscience

Psalm 139:1-4 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all.

What kind of God God is
Today's post features one of the most magnificent Psalms in the Book of Psalms - Psalm 139. Psalm 139 depicts God as He is with respect to His very essence and being. Today's post is not about presenting a bunch of information. Instead, the goal is to show the reader from this Psalm what kind of God God is and to demonstrate what there is to know about God from this Psalm, so as to affect transformation and thus exaltation. 

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 contains the following descriptions of the being and essence of God: "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." 

God's essence and attributes: a quick introduction
When we see how God is "infinite in holiness and all other perfections", we are getting into the matter of what are called God's attributes. God's attributes speak to those characteristics and properties of God that define Him as God. William G.T Shedd, in the first volume of his Systematic Theology, defines an attribute as "modes either of the relation, or of the operation of the divine essence".  To illustrate, we can think of the rays of the sun as likened unto attributes, and the sun itself as an analogy of the essence of God. Just as one cannot look directly at the sun, one too cannot directly see nor experience the essence of God. However, the rays of the sun are expressions of the sun and by their energies, warmth, growth, life and such are witnessed. The rays of the sun constitute and are entailed in what we mean when we speak of the sun. God's attributes (by analogy), can be conceived of in the same manner. Older theologians sometimes speak of God's "essence" and "energies". 

So much more of course could be said on this topic of God and His attributes. However, we for now will restrict our discussion to what we find out about God in Psalm 139, particularly Psalm 139:1-6. Today we will consider God as the One Lord that knows everything (i.e omniscient). 

God knows everything. Psalm 139:1-6
As we mentioned before, God is the sum of all His attributes - with omniscience (God's eternal property of knowing all things) being the eternal energy that expresses His state of intelligence and cognition. The most wonderful thing about getting to know God is to find out that He knows me, through and through. Before I was ever born, God knew about me in His mind. Every person born into this world in a general sense is shown in scripture to have had a particular ordained time of birth and time of death. (Psalm 90; Hebrews 9:27) 

In a specific sense, God in His mind knew before hand every believer and saw them as already complete in Christ (Ephesians 1:1-4; Romans 8:29-31). Having in His omniscience seen every child of God in Christ in eternity, God decided to love them on the basis of His own decision to love them (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; Ephesians 1:4-5)! God's omniscience truly governs His decrees. By virtue of what God knows about the past, present and future - God so acts in accordance to what He knows and wills (Job 42:2; Daniel 4:35; Romans 11:33-36). As the BFM 2000 states: "His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures."

As the Psalmist says, there is more about God's knowledge that we do not comprehend than we do comprehend. (compare Romans 11:33-36). However, Biblical teachings on such truths reminds us to "let God be God" and "to keep silent on those areas wherein He does not speak" and "to worship Him Who knows all things." Within Psalm 139:1-6 we discover that God knows...

a. the words one will speak before they speak them

b. knows the internal ruminations of the heart.

c. knows how we would respond in situations and even in possible situations that may or may not occur

d. knows the future as well as the present

As the Psalmist rounds out his discussion on God's omniscience, He notes in Psalm 139:6 - "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;It is too high, I cannot attain to it." The Hebrew word translated "wonderful" speaks of something that is beyond one's grasp. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) translates this verse in the following manner: "This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it."

As we raise our thoughts to God today - let's praise Him for His omniscience. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Exploring a seven-fold description of God's nature

Isaiah 40:9 Get yourself up on a high mountain,O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

Today's post is going to focus attention upon the seven-fold description of God's nature as given in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. From the onset it must be recognized that any knowledge we derive about God's essence and being must be checked against scripture. The Bible is the ultimate rule and standard of faith and practice. Doctrinal statements, confessions and historic Christian creed represent Christian reflection on the primary source documents of faith which are the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. 

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 represents what one would find in other reliable doctrinal statements such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creeds and other historic, conservative, Bible believing statements. Readers can access online the entire document of the BFM 2000 at Below I will lay out the second sentence contained in the BFM 2000 article on "God", followed by a brief exposition of the seven statements pertaining to God's nature. Relevant scriptures will  be included so as to round out the necessary Biblical foundation for each term.   

1. The BFM 2000 statement regarding God's nature
"He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe."

2. The seven-fold description of God's nature

-Intelligent. God is an immaterial mind that stands in causal relation to the universe (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 33:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6-7). God's intelligence covers all knowledge of true facts concerning the created order past, present and future (Psalm 139:1-6; 147:5; Romans 11:33-36). 

-Spiritual. God's very essence is that of immaterial, not material. Unlike paganism, which asserts a mixture of immateriality and materiality or Mormonism, which conceives of a host of greater and lesser material-like deities stretching back through eternity, the Bible alone asserts the complete immateriality or spirituality of God. Jesus asserted such in John 4:24. Imagery such as fire and wind are used to convey the fact that God is not material, but immaterial, not compose of parts. Hence, God as ultimate, ultimate reality is spiritual and intelligent.

-Personal. This third description of the Divine nature of God speaks to the fact that this One God is endowed with freedom of the will, intentionality, emotions and of course intellect. Both Isaiah (Isaiah 41:21-25) and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 8:1-6) contrast the mute, impersonal, lifeless idols worshipped by fallen man with the Personal God of Divine revelation. With respect to God's Triune identity, it would be correct to say that God is truly "inter-personal", since as One essence expressed and lived out in, through and by the Three Persons of the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit, God's Personality is underscored. Sometimes it is asked how an infinite being life God could produce a finite universe if He, being the infinite cause of all things, should had produced an infinite effect. The answer to this lies in God being Personal. As God possess His own will, He could choose in eternity when to bring about the universe and all of its contents (Ephesians 1:11). Scripture asserts that God as the Personal Being holds together what He has made (Daniel 4:35). Jesus Christ, as the incarnation and full-revelation of God, is ascribed the same description as it pertains to His deity (Colossians 1:13-16).

-Creator, Redeemer, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe
These last four descriptions really outline the plot-line of scripture with respect to God's dominating presence. We've seen how God is the Creator of all things. Genesis 1-2 details how God alone is the Creator of all things. As Redeemer, God came to Adam and Eve after their fall in Genesis 3. From Genesis 3-Revelation 22 we find out that God in the Persons of the Father, Son and Spirit had planned from all eternity to redeem fallen human beings who so touched and opened by His grace would believe, repent and be saved. God as Redeemer chose to create a world including the cross. 

As Preserver, God sustains the whole created order, history and humanity by act of His ongoing Providence. The Father sustains such by His will (Ephesians 1:11); the Son does so by the Word of His power in concert with the Father (Colossians 1:13-16) and the Spirit animates all things by His uncreated, life-giving power that He shares with the Father and the Spirit (Psalm 104). 

Then finally, as Ruler of the universe, this covers God's ruling activity from before creation through the specifics of the Kingship of Jesus Christ to what will be the bringing about of the New Heavens and Earth (Psalm 90; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28).

Closing thoughts
Today we only sketched what is undoubtedly the incomprehensible nature of God. It is hoped that this exploration of the seven-fold description given in the BFM 2000 will cause all of us to know God in a deeper and richer way.