A Summary of the Doctrine of God

June 5, 2017 — Leave a comment

This blog post is the first of my Summer Summary Series. In these blog posts I am providing an examination of the ten articles of the statement of faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (the organization which I hope to receive my ministry license through).

The EFCA statement of faith on God reads:

We believe in one God, Creator of all things, holy, infinitely perfect, and eternally existing in a loving unity of three equally divine Persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Having limitless knowledge and sovereign power, God has graciously purposed from eternity to redeem a people for Himself and to make all things new for His own glory.

A Summary of the Doctrine of God

“The Adoration of the Holy Trinity” by Johann Heinrich Schonfeld (1609-1684)

I. GOD IS CREATOR

The Bible is absolutely and solemnly clear that God is the one who created the world and the universe (Gen 1:1; 14:19, 22; Exod 20:11; Neh 9:6; Pss 146:6; Acts 4:24; Heb 11:3; Rev 4:11; 14:7). God created this world out of nothing—ex nihiloin seven literal days with the appearance of age. Before the world was created only God existed with himself (John 1:1-3; Rom 4:17). Therefore, the world and universe which we live in should not be worshipped; God should be the only object of our worship. God also created heaven and those who live there (Neh 9:6; Pss 103:21; 148:2-5; Acts 4:24; Col 1:16; Rev 10:6).

II. BROAD EXPLANATION OF GOD

A. The Being of God

The being of God can be described in communicable and incommunicable attributes.

1. Communicable Attributes

The communicable attributes of God are those that we share with him to some degree.

  • God is the only true God (Isa 46:9; Jer 10:10-11; 1 Cor 8:4-6; John 17:3; 1 John 5:20), he is the truth and defines what is true, and his knowledge and Word are true (Isa 40:8: John 17:17).
  • God is wise (Job 9:4; Psalm 104:24; Rom 11:33-36; 16:27; 1 Cor 1:24, 30; 4:10; Eph 3:10; Col 1:9; Rev 5:12; 7:12) and is holy (Isa 6:3; Hab 1:13; Rev 4:8).
  • He is just because sin cannot go unsolved before the ethically perfect character of God (Exod 32:9-10; Rom 1:18; 2:5; Rev 6:16; 15:3-4; 19:15).
  • God is good as the final standard of all this is excellent, upright, virtuous, worthy, and admirable (Pss 25:8; 34:8; Mark 10:18).
  • God is faithful because he is consistent in who he is and what he does (Deut 7:9; 32:4; Isa 49:7; Lam 3:22-23; Ps 25:10; 33:4; 1 Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 1:18; 1 Thess 5:24; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 Pet 4:19; Rev 3:14; 2 Tim 2:13.).
  • God is love (Pss 136; 1 John 4:16).
  • God is merciful as seen in his mercy to those who do not deserve it (but who need it) (Ex 34:6; Ps 103:8; Matt 9:27; Rom 3:23-24; 2 Cor 1:3; 5:21; Heb 4:16).

2. Incommunicable Attributes

The incommunicable attributes of God are characteristics that God does not share or communicate with finite humanity.

  • God is tripersonal (see discussion below).
  • God is self-existent  (Exod 3:14; John 5:26; 1 Tim 6:13, 15-16).
  • God is self-sufficient (Job 41:11; Pss 50:10-12; 90:2; Acts 17:24-25; Rev 4:11).
  • God is free because he chooses to be himself and sustains all things (Isa 40:12-28; Dan 4:35; Pss 115:3).
  • God is perfect, nothing is greater, and he is the standard of what is pure, correct, and good (Hab 1:13; 1 Tim 4:4; 1 John 1:5).
  • God is immutable and (Pss 102:25-27; Mal 3:6; James 1:17; Heb 13:8) eternal (Gen 21:33; Exod 3:14; Job 36:26; Pss 29:10; 48; 90:2; Isa 9:6; 40:28; 45:21; 46:9-10; Mic 5:2; John 1:3; 8:58; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16: Heb 1:2; 2 Peter 3:8; Rev 1:18; 4:9, 10; 10:6; 11:15; 15:3, 7; 22:13).
  • God is omniscient and knows everything (Isa 46:9-10; Job 11:7-10; 28:20-28; 34:21-22; Pss 139:1-6, 16-18; 147:5; Ecc 6:10).
  • God is omnipotent because he does anything that he wants and it is in accord with his character and plan (Ps 135:5-6; Isa 9:6; 43:13; 44:24; 45:7; Jer 32:17; Matt 19:26; 2 Cor 6:18; Eph 1:4-11; Heb 2:10: Rev 1:8; 4:11; 16:14; 19:15, 6; 22:13.).
  • God is sovereign and has free will (1 Chr 29:11-14; Isa 45:5-12; 63:16-17; John 6:44; Acts 4:27-28; 13:48; Rom 9:11-24; 13:1; Eph 1:4-5, 11; Rev 17:8).
  • God is omnipresent, and nothing can exist apart from God’s personal presence (1 Kings 8:27; Pss 139:7-12; Isa 40:12-26; 57:15; 66:1-2; Jer 23:23-24; Amos 9:1-4; Acts 17:24, 48).

B. The Trinity

I believe that the one God exists as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each is equal in nature, equal in glory, but distinct in relationship. Further clarification of God as one is seen throughout progressive revelation (In the Old Testament [Gen 1:1; Exod 20:2-3; Deut 4:34-35, 39; Deut 6:4] and New Testament [Mark 12:28-34; 1 Cor 8:4-6; Eph 4:5-6; James 2:19]).

Yet, God is also three distinct persons (Plurality of אֱלֹהִים , Gen 1:26; 3:22; use of אֶחָד instead of יהיד  in Deut 6:4-6; Pss 45:6-7; 110:1; Isa 6:8; 9:6-7; 44:6; 63:8-16; Dan 7:13-14; Matt 28:18-20) consisting of:

  • the Father (Deut 32:6; 2 Sam 7:8, 14; Pss 89:26; Jer 3:4, 19; 31:8-9; Matt 3:16; 17:5; Eph 3:14-15; 2 Peter 1:16-18),
  • the Son (Deity in 2 Sam 7:12-16; Matt 26:62-66; John 1:1-3, 18; 14:9; Col 1:15, 19; 2:9; 1 Tim 2:3-6; Heb 1:1-14 and humanity in Gen 3:15; 12:3; Dan 7:13-14; Gal 3:6-9, 16; Phil 2:5-8; Heb 2:14-15),
  • and the Holy Spirit (Deity in Gen 1:2; Pss 51:11; Job 33:4; Pss 104:30; Isa 40:13; Matt 12:31-32; John 14:9, 10-11, 26; 16:8-11, 13; Acts 5:1-4; 2 Cor 3:17-18 and personhood in Isa 63:7-11; John 14:26; 15:26-27; 16:7, 8-15; Acts 5:9; 9:31; 13:2; 15:28; ; Rom 8:14-16, 26-27; 1 Cor 2:10-13; 12:11; Eph 4:30; Heb 10:29).

With that said, the three distinct persons are one being who:

  • testify about each other (John 5:36-37; 8:17; Luke 3:31-22; John 3:11, 32; 15:26; 16:8-15; 17:6, 27; 18:37),
  • enjoy free personal choice in relation to each other (John 5:17, 21; 13:15; 14:16, 27; 15:11, 26; 16:7-11, 13-15),
  • love and serve each other (Luke 22:42; John 3:35; 5:20; 10:17; 14:31; 15:9; 17:23-24, 26).

If you want to learn more about the Trinity and want a simple straightforward book, I highly recommend Michael Reeves’s Delighting in the Trinity and Athanasiaus’s On the Incarnation

III. GOD’S ATTRIBUTES 

The nature and attributes of God are important because it helps us to know who he is and who we worship. Additionally, because God’s nature and attributes are solid and unchanging, we can know that the God we worship will stay the same. Once we get a correct understanding of him we no longer have to search aimlessly for him.

IV. GOD’S LIMITLESS KNOWLEDGE AND SOVEREIGN POWER

God is limitless in knowledge because his knowledge is perfect (Job 36:16) and he knows everything (1 John 3:20). Examples of this are seen in the fantastic 139th psalm written by David. It states that God knows everything about us (v. 1), the things we do (v. 2), our plans (v. 3), and what we are going to say (v. 4). This knowledge of God is too wonderful for us to understand (v. 6) and because of it we can never escape God (v. 7). He knows so much that he even knew us before we were born (vv. 13-16). God is sovereign in power because he is able to do anything in accordance with his holy will. God is king, and he rules over all (Pss 103:19). Everything is subject under God’s free choice (1 Cor 15:27). In this, all things are accomplished with the counsel of God’s will (Eph 1:11).

Question: How does your knowledge of God and how he is effect your everyday life?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."