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July 6, 2021 12:01 am
From its very first page, the Bible declares that there is one God over all creation. How do we square this truth with the revelation of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Today, R.C. Sproul speaks on the essential oneness of our triune God.
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Coming up today on Renewing Your Mind. We want to look at this question of Trinity because it is one of the most difficult, mysterious, puzzling and controversial doctrines of the entire Christian faith difficult and mysterious but not incomprehensible and it is an essential Christian doctrine deny the Trinity and you deny the faith you were going to spend a couple of days exploring what separates Christianity from every other religion. The glorious truth that there is one God who exists in three persons. Dr. when we look at the cultures of antiquity, one of the things that jumps out of us in terms of the vast majority of ancient civilizations is the commitment that we find in their culture to a highly developed system of policies we think for example of the Greeks who had their pantheon of deities and of the Romans who had their corresponding gods and goddesses, a God for this of a God for that, covering every sphere of human concern and human endeavor, and that in the midst of that Mediterranean world of antiquity there is a culture that stands out for its unique developed commitment to monotheism.
Now I realize that there are critical scholars who argue that the Jewish religion as reflected in the Old Testament was not really monotheistic, but was a subtle blending of forms of polytheism and that the Scriptures as we receive it today were worked over by later editors and a more modern view of monotheism was written back into the earlier patriarchal periods of the biblical records, but those critical theories notwithstanding one of the things that jumps out at us is that from the very first page of sacred Scripture, there is an unambiguous declaration that the Lord God is not simply a deity whose reign and authority is restricted to the boundaries or borders of Israel that he is the most high God. He is the God of heaven and earth.
He is the God who creates and rules all things. Now the actual working out of the development of the religious community of Israel in the Old Testament put great stress and great emphasis on this point that God is singular that there is only one God and none beside him and we think, for example, in the Pentateuch in the book of Deuteronomy of the stream which was something that was so deeply rooted in the consciousness of the people, and this was an idea that was recited in their liturgy and we find it in Deuteronomy chapter 6 beginning at verse four. I'm sure you're all familiar with this as you've heard this on many occasions. It goes like this here oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your strengths that were familiar with those words as they contain for us the contents of the great commandment in the context of the Shema here where the call to assembly is given and the announcement is made here oh Israel, the Lord our God is one and then would immediately follows the great commandment here are these words and these words which I command you today shall be in your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your children shall talk of them when you sit in your house when you walk by the way, when you live down when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates. Now the reason I read that admonition. Is that what the author of Deuteronomy is telling us here is that this announcement of the nature of God, of his unity of his singularity of his oneness is so important and so central to the religious life of the people that this point is one that is to be given by way of instruction to the children on a daily basis. They're supposed to put on their wrists and on their four heads on arrival on the doorpost talk about it when you sit down, talk about it when you get up. In other words, the whole passion of this concept here is that there is a diligence imposed upon the parents and Israel to make sure that the people and the children as they grow up understand the uniqueness of God because the subduction that awaits them is the policy is some in the world's false religions that surround them. And if we read the history of the Old Testament we see that the greatest threat to Israel was the corruption that was involved in people chasing after other gods, and many gods and we see that the unity of God is also circumscribed in the Old Testament, by the very first commandment of the 10 Commandments thou shall have no other gods before me.
And that before me, does not mean ranked ahead of me, meaning that you could have five or six or 50 gods if you want to as long as I'm regarded as the most exalted and number one God note the before me means in my presence, and the presence of Yahweh extends throughout the entire creation. And so when God says. Thus, on the other gods before me. What he saying here is that also have no other gods because there aren't any other gods because God alone reigns as deity. Now I've taken the time today to look briefly at some of the central statements in the Old Testament to see how strenuously the concept of monotheism is established in the Old Testament, and yet at the same time. One of the most important doctrines that defines the Christian faith is the doctrine of the Trinity wherein we confess our faith in the triune God that God is three persons in one essence and will explore that formula. Not in this lecture, but in the next lecture following this one, but for now we want to look at this question of Trinity because it is one of the most difficult mysterious, puzzling and controversial doctrines of the entire Christian faith and how the question was raised in the early years of the Christian faith can Christians be faithful to the religion of the Old Testament which put such a major stress on monotheism.
At the same time talk about Trinity because at first blush that Elyse when we talk about the triune God the way that is often understood and heard by people around us is that we believe in free God's father, God the son God and the Holy Spirit, God, we may not have as many deities as was found in the religion of Rome or of ancient Greek, but we have two more than was found in Israel that we have three gods or true theism, which is a form of policies so the question immediately arises why did the Christian church, which saw itself is growing out inseparably from the new covenant situation of Israel. How could the Christian church make an affirmation such as that found in the Trinity that God is father, son and Holy Ghost. Well, again, the answer to that question cannot be found merely in a historical analysis of the speculation of the theologians of the early church. The roots by which the doctrine of the Trinity was established was the New Testament itself, and that fact the New Testament when it speaks of God. It speaks of God in terms of God the father in terms of God the son, and in terms of God the Holy Spirit. And there's no text wherein this concept is expressed more clearly than we find in the opening chapter of John's Gospel. Indeed, in the prologue of John's gospel which sets the stage for the Church's confession of faith in the Trinity. So let's take some time to look at this text and John we read in John chapter 1. These words in the beginning was the word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God all things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made and in him was life and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it, but I think most of you are aware that lying behind this English text is the use of the famous Greek word logo on us, which is the Greek word for word, and so the text in English is translated in the beginning was the word in the Greek it would say in the beginning was below God's and Bella Ross was with God and the logo loss was God. Now this is somewhat confusing because this concept of the word of God is expressed here in the first chapter of John in different ways.
In the first instance, a distinction is made between God and the love us.
We are told in the beginning was the logos or the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God when I say that somebody was with somebody else I'm making a clear distinction between those two persons who were in some respects closely related to each other close enough for us to say they were with each other, but when I say a person is with another person that clearly communicates your mind estimate that there are two entities involved here two distinct persons and so the first thing we read here is that John is making a distinction between the logo officer. The word and God, and that distinction is made with respect to the use of the word with now I want also take a moment or so to develop a little bit. This concept of with fear when we did our series on an overview of Scripture called us to glory also spent some time on this from a biblical perspective because this little word with may seem to be somewhat insignificant and hardly carrying any depth of meaning or weight, but in the Greek language. There are at least three terms that can be and are translated by the English word with there is the word soon as you and which one attached to other words into roots.
For example, in the Hebrew you have the synagogue, the synagogue day which is the place where people come and assemble together with each other by the way this prefix soon and Greek comes across to the English prefix soon.
Asked why and when we synchronize our watches we get them on the same page as it were, where gathering together with each other all at the same point of time and so synchronicity and so on. Refer a together with love more than one person without the make it simple. Here we are in this live audience here today and we are present with each other. That means were partners in a group of people. That's one way the word with is used in the Greek. Another way is with the word Matt, we get the word metaphysics which means Wes in the sense of being alongside of something if I'm I asked my favorite student Roger come up fear and help me illustrate this Roger regarding next week. Going to England to see the Queen all right and is gonna be with you, your mom and your dad and your grandparents. That's neat well right now you're standing appear with me. Archer Roger and were standing side-by-side these alongside of me.
He's with me to see two people walking down the street and there together anybody say a husband and a wife is there's a Mr. and Mrs. so-and-so there out walking with each other tonight and the relationship is side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, and that's where we are in his classroom is Roger RI Powell thank you very much okay so that's another kind of witness, but there is still 1/3 kind of witness that the Greeks used in its indicated by the Greek word cross, which incidentally forms the basis of another Greek word which is the Greek word cross Apollo and the Greek word cross opponent is the Greek word for face and what you have here with this process definition of with is a more intimate description of witness if you will. It describes a face to face relationship, which is the most intimate way in which persons can be with each other in a face-to-face perspective of intimacy. That's the term John uses here when he says in the beginning was the word and the word was with God the Word was cross, God the logos within this closest possible relationship to God.
But no matter how we straying here at the subtle differences with the use of the term with the matter how you slice up the word with it still indicates a distinction between two parties designate and so far so good. First of all, were learning here that the Logos was with God from the beginning, and inanimate relationship and all of a sudden all consternation comes to our minds when we go to the next clause and the word was God and the logos was God. Wait a minute, you're telling us. On the one hand, that the word is with God. Now you're going, the next step in saying the word was God in the verb that is used here is a common form of the Greek verb to be.
It is a linking verb and it is used here in the Coppola sense in which what is affirmed in the predicate is already found in the subjects of their reversible but word was God and God was the word. So here we have a clear description of deity. The word on the one hand, the word is differentiated from God. Another way the word is identified with God.it's because not only of this text, but many such tax in the New Testament that the church developed the doctrine of the Trinity. There are many descriptive terms used for geniuses in the New Testament in the first 300 years of the church is reflection the one that absolutely dominated the thinking of the theologians was this concept of the logos because it not only were so difficult but it gave us such an exalted view of the nature of Christ, but this is not the only text by four or the only writer John of course is the one who gives us the record of the response of Thomas in the upper room when Thomas was skeptical about the reports he received from the women and from his friends of the resurrection of Christ, and he said unless I can put my fingers into the nail holes in his hands or his arms were in his side. I won't believe we remember the dramatic record were Christ appears to the disciples, and he shows his wounded hands. Thomas and invites Thomas put his hand in the wounds of Christ into his side and it's interesting to me that the Scriptures never tell us whether Thomas did it all we know is that he saw the risen Christ before him, and Christ made the offer to Thomas to touch him and the next thing the Scriptures tell us is that Thomas is on his knees crying out my Lord and my God again. The New Testament Jewish writers, particularly were acutely conscious not only of the first commandment of the Old Testament, but also of the second commandment, the making of graven images and the prohibition that was deeply rooted in the Old Testament against all forms of idolatry and idolatry is committed when any creature is given worship, so that the understanding of the New Testament writers was this that to worship Christ can only be justified if, indeed, in some way.
He is divine because if he's not that he is at best a creature and the worship of the creature is a violation of true religion. It is the essence of idolatry and Jesus himself accepted the worship of Thomas is very significant Jesus and other occasions in the New Testament when he heals on the Sabbath day one. He forgives sin and the Pharisees objected that, so you who do you think you are. This man is making himself equal with God.
They understood the implication of what Jesus was saying, because Jesus said, I do this that you may know that I am Lord of the Sabbath average. You understood that the only one who was Lord of the Sabbath was God who instituted the Sabbath day. And Jesus said, I do these things that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on the earth to forgive sins and again the Jews reacted in anger because they said he was arrogating to himself the rights and privileges and authorities that belong to God alone and again back to the prologue of John where it follows from the statement and the Word was God that he was in the beginning with God all things were made through him and without him nothing was made that was made here the logos is identified with the creator and finally in him was life know what Paul says in acts that it's in God that we live and move and have our being.
To say that life is in the logos that that's the source of light, the power supply of life is clearly to attribute deity to this one who is called the word, and so we see that if were going to deal with the biblical concept of Christ of the father and of the son, we have to have a formula that on the one hand makes a clear distinction among the persons of the Godhead and a distinction that this not destroy the deity of each and the look and how that occurred in our next lesson.
That's Dr. RC's role helping us understand that each member of the Trinity is equally God is RC mention this is such an essential aspect of our faith that we read in the book of Deuteronomy the Israelites were commanded to teach their children.
This truth on a daily basis. RC covers this vital doctrine in his overview of systematic theology. The series called foundations would like for you to have the 60 part series when you contact us today with a donation of any amount will send you the eight DVD set. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or you can give your gift online at Renewing Your Mind.word my first contact with Dr. Spruill and his teaching was in a Sunday school class at our church more than 30 years ago and it's not a stretch to say he was life-changing. I mentioned that because it reflects look in your desire to support the church with resources like this, so if you teach Sunday school. Consider requesting foundations for your church. Each lesson is about 20 to 25 minutes long which provides time for questions and discussions again. You'll find firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us at 800-435-4343 to let me tell you about another way you can access her resources recently heard from a young mom who had just downloaded the league in your app she told us what a blessing it is the she can listen to Renewing Your Mind and pause the program when those that inevitable interruptions come along.
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It is free and you can find it by searching for linear in your app store will tomorrow. Dr. Spruill continues his study of the Trinity. It may seem to be contradictory because were saying God is one essence and three persons, and we're accustomed in our vantage point as human beings to see one being is one person not to that extent, the doctrine of the Trinity in this formulation is mysterious. I hope you make plans to join us again tomorrow for Renewing Your Mind