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July 11, 2022 12:01 am
To address God as Father is an unspeakable privilege given to Christians. Today, R.C. Sproul teaches on the biblical understanding of the fatherhood of God, a foundational truth of the Christian faith.
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We as people who Jesus is, that we discover there are plenty of opinions.
Jesus is a prophet for many religions, but he was a person who did good deeds and people follow him because of his good deeds is Jesus really academically.
There's a lot of someone that saved our lives. These this is based on that, it's clear that we should assume that everyone understands the basics of Christianity. So this week on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul will explain the fundamental doctrines that we find in the apostles Creed we call the series basic training.
Fortunately, there's no running required for this boot. No push-ups were long marches, but I think will come away better prepared to put on the whole armor of God is RC at the affirmation of the creed. It starts I believe in and what comes next in God the father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth so that the first affirmation of the creed has to do with the central importance of God the father. Now we ask why the affirmation in God the father.
Why is that there I believe in God the father.
Why does this word occurs in the early Cree wall from very early on. Even before the Council of Nicaea which came in the fourth century, the Christian community was self-consciously Trinitarian.
Notice how the creed progresses. I believe in God the father and in Jesus Christ his only son, our Lord, and then you have a separate affirmation. I believe in the Holy Ghost, so that all three persons of the Trinity are confessed in this very early creedal statement so the allusion to the father. On the one hand is loaded with Trinitarian significance and come back to that in a moment, but there's another reason why the term father figures prominently in the foundations to the Christian faith in the 19th century where we saw the advent of 19th century liberalism. It was kind of an ongoing attempt with the birth of the science of comparative religions. For example, to seek the essence of religion.
What is it that Christianity has in common with Islam or with Judaism or Buddhism, and so on, and those who were disenchanted with the supernatural trappings of biblical Christianity wanted to penetrate to the core of the Christian faith or to what the thinkers called the essence of Christianity, just a ton of books published in the 19th century, particularly in Germany that spoke of the essence of religion like Ludwig Feuerbach or the essence of Christianity. The German where there is vase in the basin or the being the substance of what Christianity is and the attempt later scholars were critical of saying that it was reductionistic that is get down to the very lowest common denominator of what we find in religion what is religion all about, and Harnack, for example, in the 19th century published a book that is still in print and very influential. A simple little book entitled what is Christianity and he boils Christianity down to this very base so common denominator that has two central affirmations. The universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, father of God, brotherhood of man.
He said that's the essential message of the New Testament, while Orthodox Christianity reacts with the John decide to that kind of reduction for several reasons.
One is that it tends to obscure some of the other vital ingredients of Christianity. But not only that we raise the question as to whether or not it's true that the Bible does teach the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man William Ellery Channing taught it and it was a creed for Unitarianism and it's become part of the American way of life to assume a universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, and it may sound shocking to you if I suggest that maybe the Bible doesn't teach any such idea as the universal fatherhood of God of the universal brotherhood of man, can you think of any place where the Bible teaches the universal fatherhood of God. It's in inferences can be drawn from creation is not just an inference of the apostle Paul. On one occasion that Marcel does say quoting the secular philosophers as your own poets have said, we are all God's offspring in the sense that God is the creator of all people, there is this oblique sense in which the Bible does it inferentially say that God is the creator of all men, so that enough certain sense sees the father of all men. But that is a very very rare indication and you would think that if it's the essence of Christianity.
That is something to be virtually on every page. But before I elaborate further on that. Let me go to the second phase, universal brotherhood of man, where we read that the Bible, the Bible does not teach the universal brotherhood of man. What the Bible teaches is the universal neighborhood of me.
Jesus makes it clear that all men are my neighbors and I have duties to perform to my neighbors that I'm called to love my neighbor as much as I love myself and you say will maybe this is just a semantic game where were distinguishing between neighbors and brothers, but do it for reason. In the New Testament the concept of brotherhood is a very very special kind of human fellowship at the heart of the Christian confessions. We will see in a moment that Jesus is the only son of God, so that there is a unique sense in which Jesus is the son of God, which is a unique sense in which God is the father of Jesus, and we enter into the family of God, not by nature, not simply by being born a human being like the Bible says were children of wrath doesn't. But in order to become a child of God.
We must be adopted into the father's family.
By virtue of our relationship with the only begotten son who is Jesus elsewhere. The Scripture says as many as are led by the spirit of God.
Those are the sons of God or the children got another work in legal language, particularly in Jewish categories.
There is a special mass associated with this filial relationship of fatherhood and son ship, and consequently of brotherhood. We are adopted into the family of God by virtue of faith in Christ and through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, and so if we talk about universal brotherhood universal fatherhood. We have skill or that very special relationship that Christ has made possible for those who believe in him well in the Old Testament there are times when God is referred to as the father but nowhere in the Old Testament, or in any existing Hebrew documents. Do we ever find a Jewish person addressing God directly in the form of personal address as father until the 10th century AD 12,000 years after Christ in Italy. With one notable exception.
A Jewish rabbi from Galilee in the first century whose life is recorded in history. Many of his public and private prayers are recorded in every single prayer.
This rabbi praised except one. He directly addresses God as father who is that mysterious Galilean rabbi Chase. The reason I say it is that Jesus contemporaries were shocked to their boats that Jesus would walk around calling God father directly in fact, some of his enemies took that as grounds enough to convict him of blasphemy.
But if you listen to Christians praying in a group and each one speaks to his prayer you can depend that 90% or more will begin their prayer by saying father so that it is so universal among us today so commonplace that we tend to take it for granted and miss the radical significance of Jesus addressing God as his father. We also miss the significance of the Lord's prayer.
At that point Jesus said when you pray, pray like this. What our father Jesus is saying what I have done. I'm the first Jew to do it. I have done something radical and major innovation and now I am inviting you to participate in that personal filial relationship that I have with the father.
You can's address and his father to but you see if it's assumed that that just goes with the baggage of being human that is built in the nature that the essence of religion is the universal fatherhood of God, universal brotherhood of man, you miss the significance of that invitation to stand in the presence of God and say to him, Abba father. So there is the sense in which the father refers to the Trinity and the other dimension of it, which we ought not to miss is this filial relationship that is special and which is personal. Christianity affirms the existence of a personal God, with whom we have a personal and filial relationship. We don't honor our prayers to the great mystery of cosmic dust again this is so elementary that is often overlooked that the God that we worship is a God who has a name and who has a personal history if I said you believe in some kind of supreme bank. That's one thing that's one kind of question.
The other question is do you believe in God. The other that is a personal God you believe in the way a God who has a name and who has a personal history. It's all the difference in the war right will of all of the adjectives and descriptive terms that is used for God in the Old Testament and in later creates eternal, invisible, immutable omissions on the present and so on. When we got out of the very basic confession of the apostles. We see that God is described again in the earliest Roman symbol as I believe in God the father Almighty. Of all of the descriptive terms that could be used about God. Wonder why it is that that one is selected for the earliest formulation God the father Almighty will remember in the patriarchal.
In the Old Testament, the ancient traditions of Israel. God was known by several names and by several titles. The supreme name. Of course, Yahweh.
I am who I am. But he also was known by other names, Elohim, for example, and one that was very important in antiquity was the name Al shot. I again we find in the patriarchs.
Abraham and we find it throughout the book of Joe which is set in the period the time.
Of the patriarchs time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and this title or name for God means the one who overpowers the one who has all strength and power. Now here in the ancient world.
There is a sense in which the term Almighty calls attention to monotheism.
Why would the term Almighty be a confession of monotheism critical scholars in the 19th century develop what was called the religious historical school and they applied a scientific principle that was widespread and very influential to the culture of Western civilization 19th century and it was the concept of evolution so often people think that the debate between Christianity and secular science focuses on biological issues about evolution, but in the 19th century in the intellectual world evolution become a buzzword and it wasn't restricted to questions of biological development, but there were all sorts of evolutionary theories developing coming out of the massively complex philosophical system of Frederick Cagle, for example, we see it in Spencer's social Darwinism. His view of political theory government so and it also was applied to religion and the basic thesis was this that everything all patterns of life, all forms of culture all aspects of society, whether biological, psychological, governmental, economic, or whatever it is, everything follows the same pattern on board movement of the nature of things. From this simple growing up to the complex and the theory was the same thing happened with the development of religion so that all religion began with very simple ideas of God and the theory was this religion begins with animism and then progresses to polytheism and then progresses to hello theism and then progresses to monotheism.
So the theory is monotheism, the belief in one God is something that comes very very late in the history of the world and the critics even said that it's like in Jewish history doesn't come until the eighth and seventh century prophets of Israel. They don't believe that Moses was a monotheist. I don't believe that Abraham was a monotheist and so on. But they say rather that went to the same progression.
What's animism were defined animism today in primitive tribal societies.
Animism believes that in animate objects like trees and rocks and so on are inhabited by spirit beings, usually of a negative inclination demonic spirits so that all of nature is animated so you pray to the stone, you pray to the tree pray to the moon. That's the most primitive form and then it graduates to more sophisticated level instead of just having a lot of separate little spirits inhabiting objects you have the belief in many gods like you had in the ancient world where you have in each nation, a separate God with a separate job description for some specific task like you have the God of war you have the God of fertility, you have the God of hearth and home, you have the God of wisdom you have the God of strength. Godspeed, all in different God. The Greek gods aroma God's God for everything. Then you move from polytheism to Hennessey is now what tenancy is and that may be a new term for some of you hello theism is sort of a transitional stage between polytheism and monotheism hello theism teaches the idea that there is one God for every nation who has sovereignty over a certain geographical or ethnic sphere so that the Jews have one God and that one God takes care of everything. War and peace, and fertility in hearth and home, and wisdom, and so on. But he's just the God of the Jews and next-door. The Philistines have their God goes the God over the Philistine neighborhood but the Canaanites have baleful listings at Dagon.
The Jews have Yahweh that would be the idea that there is one God for every people, until finally you emerge with the concept of a God who is Almighty, the God who is over everything, but from the times in Hebrew religion which disputes this evolutionary process is the idea of monotheism because not only do we find in the patriarchal records the name of God as Al shot. I the Almighty one, but you have the concept of God as the creator is not just the Redeemer of Israel, but the one who creates heaven and earth.
So what would be his sphere of authority, not just all over the geographical boundaries of Palestine that run from the end of the year Shabbat, but they go over the so that the term Almighty is rooted and grounded in the concept of God as being sovereign over all the world. It is clear affirmation of monotheism. Now I mentioned earlier that in the catechetical questions the interrogation do you believe in God the father Almighty? Then, when that was refers to become a positive creed in the old Roman symbol. The old Roman symbol simply said, I believe in God the father Almighty. And in Jesus Christ someone.
There was no clause, maker of heaven and earth that came in, presumably in the second century. Now we talked already about the crisis of the second century that made it necessary for the church to even have creeds because of the influence of Gnosticism and we remember one of the most important reasons why the church declared its canon of Scripture, the Bible was because of the work of Marcy the very first collection of New Testament books was done by Marcy, but he was a heretic.
What was his heresy. What did he do with the New Testament right. He produced a truncated expurgated version of the New Testament.
Matthew's Gospel was gone and any reference so that he tried to create a line of division between Jesus and the Old Testament God, you still find that tenancy today.
People say walk Jesus. I like you never said God of the Old Testament. I can't stand for the Gnostics in the second century argued some of them argued that Jesus is father was the true God, but he was not the creator. It was at that stage that the church inserted in its creed. I believe in God the father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth to dispute this idea of a distinction between the God who is in the creator, the father of Jesus Christ, according to Christianity is the creator of heaven and earth that are redemption is brought about by the activity of our creator and that there is only one God, no damages and that there is no disjunction between the God of the New Testament and the God of the Old Testament brings to mind what the Lord God declares in Revelation chapter 1 I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty, thanks for joining us for Renewing Your Mind on this Monday. I am we went out and done all week we are featuring Dr. RC Sproul series basic training in six messages. RC walks us through the apostles Creed to explain the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. If you're a new Christian and you'd like to learn some of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.
Or perhaps you're teaching a church membership or confirmation class at your church. I think you'll find this series helpful will send all six lessons to you on a single DVD for your donation of any amount to look at your ministries you can make a request email@example.com work.
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Dr. Strobel explore that Tuesday here on Renewing Your Mind