Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spirituality of God (part 2), from “The Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Evans

Notes: (1) “The Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Rev. William Evans, Ph.D., D.D. is a well-respected reference material for Bible students, pastors, missionaries and laymen. You can read the entire book from Google (click the picture of the book cover), or download the complete zipped e-book. (2) Surf to the index of lessons and online quizzes from Evans. (3) The most important ideas and statements from this part of Evans’ book are listed in the “Basic truths” section below.

Questions and Problems with Reference to the Statement that “God is Spirit.”

(1) ‘What is meant by statement that man was made “in the image of God”?

Col 3:10; Eph. 4:24 declare that this “image” consists in “righteousness, knowledge, and holiness of truth.” By that is meant that the image of God in man consisted in intellectual and moral likeness rather than physical resemblance. Some think that 1 Thess. 5:23 indicates that the “trinity of man”--body, soul, and spirit--constitutes that image and likeness.

(2) What is meant by the anthropomorphic expressions used of God?

For example: God is said to have hands, feet, arms, eyes, ears; He sees, feels, hears, walks, etc. Such expressions are to be understood only in the sense of being human expressions used in order to bring the infinite within the comprehension of the finite. How otherwise could we understand God saving by means of human expressions, in figures that we all can understand!

(3) How are such passages as Exod. 24:10 and 33:18-23 in which it is distinctly stated that men saw the God of Israel, to be reconciled with such passages as John 1:18; “No man hath seen God at any time,” and Exod. 33:20: “There shall no man see me and live”?


aa) Spirit can be manifested in visible form:

John 1:32: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove (or in the form of a dove).” So throughout the ages the invisible God has manifested Himself in visible form. (See Judges 6:34: The Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon.)

bb) On this truth is based the doctrine of “The Angel of the Lord”

in the Old Testament: Gen 16:7, 10, 13. Note here how the Angel of the Lord is identified with Jehovah Himself, cf. vv. 10, 13. Also Gen. 22:12—“The angel of the Lord.... not withheld from me.” In 18:1-16, one of the three angels clearly and definitely identifies himself with Jehovah. Compare chapter 19, where it is seen that only two of the angels have come to Sodom; the other has remained behind. “Who was this one, this remaining angel? Gen.18:17, 20 answers the question; v. 22 reads: “And Abraham stood yet before the Lord. In Exod. 13:21 it is Jehovah, while in 14:19 it is the Angel that went before Israel. Thus was the way prepared for the incarnation, for the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is undoubtedly the second person of the Trinity. This seems evident from Judges 13:18 compared with Isa. 9:6, in both of which passages, clearly referring to Christ, the name “Wonderful” occurs. Also the omission of the definite article “the” from before the expression “the Angel of the Lord,” and the substitution of “an” points to the same truth. This change is made in the Revised Version.

cc) What was it then that the elders of Israel saw when it is said they saw the “God of Israel”?

Certainly it was not God in His real essence, God as He is in Himself, for no man can have that vision and live. John 1:18 is clear on that point: “No man hath seen God at any time.” The emphasis in this verse is on the word “God,” and may read, “GOD no one has seen at any time.” In 5:37 Jesus says: “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” From this it seems clear that the “seeing” here, the which has been the privilege of no man, refers to the essence rather than to the person of God, if such a distinction can really be made. This is apparent also from the omission of the definite article before God, as well as from the position of God in the sentence. None but the Son has really seen God as God, as He really is. What, then, did these men see?

Evidently an appearance of God in some form to their outward senses; perhaps the form of a man, seeing mention is made of his “feet.” The vision may have been too bright for human eyes to gaze upon fully, but it was a vision of God. Yet it was only a manifestation of God, for, although Moses was conversing with God, he yet said: “If I have found grace in thy sight, show me thy face.” Moses had been granted exceeding great and precious privileges in that he had been admitted into close communion with God, more so than any other member of the human race. But still unsatisfied he longed for more; so in v. 18 he asks to see the unveiled glory of God, that very thing which no man in the flesh can ever see and live; but, no, this cannot be. By referring to Exod. 33:18-23 we find God’s answer: “Thou canst not see my face.... thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen.” (Num. 12:8 throws light upon the subject, if compared with Exod. 33:11.)

”The secret remained unseen; the longing unsatisfied; and the nearest approach to the beatific vision reached by him with whom God spake face to face, as friend with friend, was to be hidden in the cleft of the rock, to be made aware of an awful shadow, and to hear the voice of the unseen.” (From “The Great Doctrines of the Bible” by Rev. William Evans, Ph.D., D.D.)
Basic truths

[1] “The image of God in man consisted in intellectual and moral likeness rather than physical resemblance.”

[2] “God is said to have hands, feet, arms, eyes, ears; He sees, feels, hears, walks, etc. Such expressions are to be understood only in the sense of being human expressions used in order to bring the infinite within the comprehension of the finite.”

[3] “Throughout the ages the invisible God has manifested Himself in visible form.”

[4] “The Angel of the Lord is identified with Jehovah Himself.”

[5] “The Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is undoubtedly the second person of the Trinity.”

[6] “None but the Son has really seen God as God, as He really is.”

Further study (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] Developing a theology of music

[2] Why Johnny Can’t Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal, by T. David Gordon (Professor of Religion and Greek at Grove City College; former professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary)

We face the challenging circumstance that many voices in the discussion know nothing of Christian hymnody prior to the nineteenth or twentieth century (which is precisely the moment when some of us think it began a downward spiral). They often equate traditional with organ-accompanied hymns, for instance, even though organs were uncommon in the Protestant tradition (both because of expense and because of musical and theological considerations) until the mid-to-late nineteenth century. Thus, a young person reared in anything like a typical evangelical church knows only two things: nineteenth-century, sentimentalist revivalist hymns, and contemporary praise choruses; and they think the argument against the latter is an argument for the former.

What I am looking for is an argument that actually addresses the crux of the decision that many churches have now made: that the criterion of contemporaneity trumps all the criteria of all the hymnal-revision committees that ever labored. I put it that way because, with very few exceptions, the contemporary praise choruses that are actually selected would not ordinarily satisfy the criteria that previous hymns had to meet to get into the hymnals. These included, but were not limited to, items such as the following:

  • theologically orthodox lyrics
  • theologically significant lyrics
  • literarily apt and thoughtful lyrics
  • lyrics and music appropriate to a meeting between God and His visible people
  • well written music with regard to melody, harmony, rhythm and form
  • musical setting appropriate to the lyrical content

By these criteria, only the most artistically gifted (or arrogant) of generations could possibly imagine that it could, in a single generation, be expected to produce a body of hymns that surpassed all previous hymns and rendered them obsolete.

So the question remains: Why does contemporaneity deserve to be included as a criterion at all, much less as a criterion more important than all of these? Why are there not signs outside churches that read: “Theologically Significant Worship,” or “Worship Appropriate to a Meeting between God and His Assembled People,” or “Worship That Is Literarily Apt and Thoughtful”? Why do the signs say “Contemporary Worship,” as though that criterion were itself worthy of promoting? (Read the complete article)

[3] Transcending the Worship Wars, Christianity Today interview by Collin Hansen of Bryan Chapell (President, Covenant Seminary)

If church leaders try to establish a style of worship based upon their preferences or based upon satisfying congregants' competing preferences, then the church will inevitably be torn apart by the politics of preference. But if the leadership is asking the missional questions of “Who is here?” and “Who should be here?” in determining worship styles and practices, then the mission of the church will enable those leaders to unite around gospel goals that are more defensible and uniting than anyone’s personal preference. These gospel goals will never undermine the gospel contours of the worship service, but rather will ask how each gospel aspect can be expressed in ways that best minister to those present and those being reached for Christ’s glory.

[4] Focus On “Worship Wars” Hides The Real Issues Regarding Connection to God, by the Barna Group

“Most of the church people who fight about their musical preference do so because they don't understand the relationship between music, communication, God and worship. Church leaders foster the problem by focusing on how to please people with music or how to offer enough styles of music to meet everyone’s tastes rather dealing with the underlying issues of limited interest in, comprehension of, and investment in fervent worship of a holy, deserving God.” Barna also stated that although music is important in the worship process, it is often elevated beyond its rightful place in the worship effort. “Music is just a tool meant to enable people to express themselves to God, yet we sometimes spend more time arguing over the tool than over the product and purpose of the tool.” (Read the complete article)

[5] Putting an End to Worship Wars, by Elmer Towns (PDF, 384Kb)

[6] The Real Worship War: Forget about choruses versus hymns—what about justice? by Mark Labberton

[7] Knowing God, by J.I. Packer
“We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfold, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”

Knowing God study guides: Section 1 Introduction and Chapters 1-6; Section 2 Chapters 7-17; Section 3 Chapters 18-22.
[8] “The Attributes of God” part 1 and part 2, by A. W. Tozer (Infinitude, Immensity, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, Grace, Omnipresence, Immanence, Holiness, Perfection); read also Knowledge Of The Holy, The Pursuit of God and other works by Tozer.

“If a sermon can be compared to light, then A. W. Tozer released a laser beam from the pulpit, a beam that penetrated your heart. If you have never read Tozer - what are you waiting for? Thirty minutes spent in a Tozer essay is often better than a week at a Bible conference.” (Warren Wiersbe, Bible teacher; General Director, Back to the Bible Broadcast; Former Pastor, Moody Church in Chicago)

Sermons on John 4, spirit, worship (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] God is, by David Palmer, East Side Baptist Church

[2] Sermons by Timothy McGhee, First Baptist Church – Powell

[3] Worship, by Ralph Sorter

[4] The Sychar Sinner, by Toby L. Soechting

[5] Corporate Worship, by Terry Lange Jr.

[6] The Ministering Heart part 2 John 4 16-26, by David York

[7] Perfect Example of Intentional Evangelism, by Jason Leight

[8] Getting Ready for Easter (3 Drink Deep), by Greg Henneman

[9] Developing a Heart for God, by J. David Hoke

[10] The Beauty of the Body, by Rex Bonar

[11] The Heart of Worship: Worshipping God in Spirit and in Truth, by Michael C. Northrup

[12] Fellowship and Forgiveness in the Light, by David Harp

[13] JP2 When Guilt won't go away, by Chuck King

Sermons on the attributes of God (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] Sermons by Philip G. Layton, Gold Country Baptist Church

[2] Sermons by Pastor Jeremy Stephens, Southview Baptist Church

[3] God is, by David Palmer, East Side Baptist Church

[4] The Doctrine of God - Part A: The Nature and Attributes of God, by Randy D. Starkey, East Bend Baptist Church

[5] SF523 - WHAT WE BELIEVE ABOUT GOD (Hebrews 11:6), by Timothy McGhee, First Baptist Church – Powell

[6] Materials by Kurt Andree

[7] Praise to the God of Unlimited Power, by Dr. Kelly Randolph, Country Acres Baptist Church

[8] Is It Possible To See God, by Thomas

[9] God The Holy Spirit, by George Toews

[10] Three Forgotten Perfections of God, by Kenneth P. McCaulley

[11] Attributes of God, by Shaun LePage

[12] Attributes Of God: Faithfulness, by Timothy D. Hall

[13] Doctrinal Statement: Theology Proper, by Jason Button

[14] 100 Names of Jesus, by Ralph Andrus, Calvary Baptist Church

[15] What We Believe and Why We Believe It Concerning God 4, by Richard E. Rutherford Jr

[16] The Immensity of God, by Wayne Gropp

[17] Some Things God Cannot Do, by Kenneth W. Burton

Note: This ministry does not necessarily endorse or share all the views and opinions expressed in the materials, resources or links mentioned in these posts. Please always refer to the Articles of Faith and Biblical distinctives of Baptists when you study these materials.

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