"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
The Scriptural doctrine of God centers on his character and actions in relationship to his people. Above all, God's relational character as evidenced in Scripture sets him apart from the gods of other religions. Consider one of God’s incommunicable attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, etc.) and one of his communicable attributes (mercy, love, etc.) and reflect on what it means for God to be omnipotent and just or omniscient and loving at the same time..
A: Asking for us to choose just one Incommunicable or communicable attribute of God is asking to nearly do the impossible. God is good, holy, infinite, omniscience, merciful, loving, loving, rational, and so much more than all of that at the same time. For a God so good and powerful, how can he be explained in two titles? Although this feels like an injustice to Him, we will carry on and pray that I can limit my words. For an Incommunicable trait, I choose His aseity and for the communicable trait I chose love. I chose these because they not only go hand in hand, but I could also go on about them for days.
God’s aseity or “self-existence” as defined on page 226 of our text simply means that God isn’t dependent on anyone or thing but himself. I do not mean to be cliché’, but God is not dependent on any man. He doesn’t need us to exist, for happiness, or love. His existence is totally self-supported and independent from anything that was created, including the universe. So, it leads me to the question of “why would God make any of this stuff”? The text touched on a few ideas here and there, but nothing in my opinion other than dead ends. I like the way our text answers it when Michael Horton states, “What is remarkable is that the triune God--- self existing, perfect, and independent--- would nevertheless create and enter into covenantal relationships with creatures in freedom and love” (p.230). My answer would require another attribute, but I would like to guess that it is most likely because He is so good in nature. Mr. Horton also goes on to say that, “Our world is a result of God’s freedom, not necessity” (p.233). So why deal with all this mess we create, why not just leave us unmade? I would think that He enjoys His relationship with us and longs for the worship of man from this earth and in heaven during eternity whenever that shall be.
God’s love is so strong that He did give His only Son to die on a cross for us (Jn 3;16). Nothing can pronounce the word love greater than that action. One of the thoughts that may ponder is how can God who has “independence from the world” choose to love an imperfect creation who is in the world? This takes us right back to God’s aseity. Man is a fallen creature and we steadily turn our backs on Him, yet He loves us enough to pursue our hearts. Our text sheds some light on this yet again when Horton states, “God takes delight in that which he does not need but nevertheless desires” (p.265). To talk about His perfect love would require me to at least mention how his goodness and mercy go along with it. Horton does the same when he mentions, “God would still be gracious and merciful in his essence even if there were no transgressors” (p.267). You simply can’t get any more gracious or merciful than that. He commands us to love like Him, but I feel as if I am failing miserably. Most likely I am, but thankfully He loves me enough to be gracious and merciful towards me. I brought these two attributes together because God’s aseity brings out how awesome His love is for us. Without that “self-existence”, to not need what we can offer, how would we know just how much He loves us? As my son would say with arms spread so far that he strains, “I love you this much daddy”, I have faith that God loves us that much more.
Horton, Micheal. 2011. The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. GCU database.
Often believers bemoan the critical study of the Bible due to the supposed spiritual dryness of the exercise. Reflecting on your study of biblical passages related to the doctrine of Revelation (e.g., 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21), how might your devotional time in the Word become a richer spiritual exercise on account of your understanding of this doctrine? What advice would you give a fellow believer about the relationship between spiritual growth and the correct interpretation of Scripture in light of 2 Timothy 2:15?
God often reveals and manifests Himself in many ways, but the most common for me is normally through Scripture. God often speaks to me by revealing Himself through the words or events on the page. Sometimes, it may be through a thought process behind a Bible story, while other times it may be the through the actual thoughts that the Spirit drops into my conscious. He may reveal His purpose for a situation in my life or His will regarding the future. Most of all, He reveals His nature to me through the subtle connections and evidence of His divine supremacy of the Universe. It is only possible to accomplish this when I can correctly understand what the Scripture is staying regarding His revealed purpose and truth. This is explained in the Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology as, “disclosure of the nature and purposes of God.” When the Scripture is correctly applied in context, it always shows us who God really is and what He cares about. Just as the scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:20-21, all scripture is “God breathed” and “inspired”. The Word of God is truly infallible and without error. If you stand on this truth, then you can have complete trust in the authority of the Word that you study.
The critical study of the Bible is something that fascinates me. I have a hunger for knowledge of God’s Word and I seek it by asking myself/others questions. Just as a student asks questions in a classroom discussion, I eagerly seek God’s wisdom by searching for these answers whenever I get the chance. I have a passion for debating and discussing God’s Word. God bless my wife, but unfortunately gets the majority of this burden. Lucky her! However, because of my passion for the knowledge of God’s Word and nature; we are both blessed by it. We are the recipients of blessings that could have only been revealed by the study of His Word. I look forward to my study of theology and doctrine. Theology is well explained by Beth Jones when she states, “Theology prepares our minds for the challenges we will encounter, helping us to think about the questions people have about God.” As we seek to know God through the Word, His nature is revealed to us. Whether it is by the story of the flood (which brings back memories of seeing sea shells loose on top of a mountain while on vacation) or the resurrection of Christ (which brings to my memory an article about scientist being able to prove an event occurring that day which would register as an earthquake in the area that day in history). His Word always brings proofs of His existence to mind for me keeping a renewal of faith in strength in me.
My advice to a fellow believer is to get on board in prayer and studying God’s Word. These are the most common ways in which He chooses to reveal Himself to mankind. If we seek it, He will not hold out on us. Eventually, with enough effort, faith, and consistency; the revelations will be a continuous flow. Maybe this is part of what He meant when He said, “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:39 KJV). The Spirit will provide that life giving water of knowledge and relationship with Christ himself. Even the ways in which He explains simple concepts such as this reveals a lot about the nature of God to me and how good He is. We should become familiar with God’s Word, learn to apply historical, as well as context for today. This is how we grow and how we learn who God is. He says it best Himself when the Scripture says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 NKJV). So let’s begin to dive in and eat at the Master’s table. We surely can’t afford to miss out on His bread and life giving Word. If we seek revelation, it is by learning the nature of God through His Word to be revealed in His timing. If we do these things, we can be considered as “a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV).
Abraham, William J. "Revelation." In Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology, edited by Ian A. McFarland, David A. S. Fergusson, Karen Kilby, and et. al.. Cambridge University Press, 2011.accessed April14th,2017.https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/loginurl=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/cupdct/revelation/0?institutionId=5865
Jones, Beth Felker. Practicing Christian Doctrine: An Introduction to Thinking and Living Theologically. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014.
It is often asked, why are there denominations and divisions within the church? While no answer is simple, the views which divide us often are. Denominations are often formed along lines of theological beliefs. These beliefs often form the main tenets of faith or declarations of faith for the church body. Some of the differences that you see are drastically different, while many are not. There are also denominations that seem to have the exact same beliefs, but differ in culture. Let’s be honest, these differences many times confuse the unsaved and cause further resentment of the church. Anyone who has listened to the reasons why people no longer or never have attended church will find this out really quick. There are occasions when people are just trying to find reasons not to attend a local service, but the last thing the church should do is give them an excuse. Divisions and difference of interpretation is human nature. It is common in just about every major religion found in the world, from Muslims to Hindus. It is our desire that we can explain some differences in the different doctrines of some main stream denominations and clear the air regarding some of the confusion for someone today. We want you to see through the fog of confusion with clear sight of Jesus. After all, he is the lighthouse!
So what are the significant differences and what I do not want to see? What you don’t want to see is a belief system where the integrity of the Gospel has been compromised. To compromise the Gospel would be to change major “salvation issues”. The “issues” are essential to our faith and what makes us Christian. If someone differs from these beliefs, they lose the very definition of what it means to be a Christian in the first place, making them what we would consider a cult. There are a couple of essential faith beliefs.
These are the essentials of the Christian faith and the bare bones of what someone needs to believe in order to call themselves Christian. There are many who do this by family tradition or identity, but they are no more Christian than any other atheist if they have not professed these tenets of faith. These beliefs are shared by most all of the main denominations within the body of Christ. Before we go further, let’s introduce the three members of the trinity to those who don’t know them. Know that the explanation of the Holy Spirit includes some Holiness doctrinal stances. We believe in the gifts of the Spirit as well as “speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance”. This is reflected in our view of the identity of the Holy Spirit, and while the Father is the giver, the Spirit is the vehicle.
Who Are The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit Exactly? Here Is a Short Explanation:
For An Extensive Explanation of The Trinity…Click Here!
It is after we get past these main tenets of faith where things tend to get a little bit controversial. There are some differences in doctrines which you will find within a denomination, church, and even family. There are also differences that cause us to be divided into denominations and different churches. Doctrines involving beliefs such as the gifts of the Spirit, women in active pastorate, “Once Saved, Always Saved” and many more are the type of differences that split believers today in separate groups. While these differences are often the source of much debate within the body of Christ, we can all agree that they worthless without the love of Christ. It is for this reason that we must be willing to lay down our differences and work together to reach out to the lost and dying.
The Southern Baptist hold on to the belief that salvation can never be lost, while the Holiness believe that any of us can “backslide” back into a sinful life headed for the pits of hell. Catholicism believes in infant Baptism and sprinkling, while many other Evangelicals believe in water submersion. These are just a few of the many differences that these bodies of Christ hold and most of these come from the same scriptures we all use that are only interpreted differently. We could spend all day talking about differences, but our hope is that you will see Christ through all of this confusion. Regardless of your location, denomination, or situation; Jesus is knocking at your heart! If confusion has blinded your ability to find a good home church or place to commune with other believers, reach out to us. If you are restricted in movement and we are your source, we welcome you and pray that you continue to tune in. Regardless of your denomination, we love all of our viewers. While SCM is not affiliated with any denominational governing body, we do hold a Pentecostal-Holiness doctrinal view. We hope and pray that you can find something about this ministry that shines the light of Christ. To find out more about where to find a good church or how to be saved contact us and we will be glad to help. Until next time, Thanks for visiting and God Bless!
Recently, SCM received a blog request answer to a question dealing with whether war is a sin according to the doctrine of the Bible. I decided to go a little further and to write a short research paper on the subject since I needed a good one for a seminary paper anyway. We pray that this research, although it has some loopholes, helps guide you to a Biblical conclusion for yourself. Just as with any decision or belief, we advise you to pray and seek God's guidance for your own conclusion. The one important aspect that we must keep in mind regarding war is that although the Israelites participated in killing and war, it was always under the order of God. When they did act out of God's will, they often were affected negatively by their actions. Although we no longer have a true theocratic government such as Israel that is commanded by God, we have to keep this thought on the forefront of our minds as we ponder these actions we see in the Bible. We also must consider that many of the regions and people that God commanded His people to destroy were not only wicked and sinful, but were also believed to have had an unclean bloodline.
Determining If Killing as a Part of War is a Sin According To Scripture
God revealed his Ten Commandments (Exod. 20:1-17 and Deut. 5:1-22 [KJV]) to the Israelites through Moses. The Law was given in for His people so that they could keep order, be protected, and allow them to get through life safely. Among the most well known of these commandments was the Sixth Commandment (Exod. 20:13 and Deut. 5:17 [KJV]) which states, “Thou shalt not kill”. Jesus Christ of Nazareth addressed how we must treat our neighbors as well as the political leaders regarding their authority and decisions. This work is an attempt on my part to explain the context of this Commandment and how Jesus must have viewed killing as a part of war according to His teachings in the New Testament scriptures.
The Definition of “Kill” In Exodus 20:13
To understand if killing is a sin as it relates to war, we must first define what it means to kill in the context of scripture. We must also understand what is meant by the context of these two scriptures as well. For instance,Walter Elwell explains the two scriptures as followed:
The wording of this commandment simply prohibits ‘killing; the meaning of the word, however, implies the prohibition of murder. The word used in the commandment is not related primarily to killing in warfare or to capital punsihmen; both those matters are deal with in other portions of Mosaic Law. The word could be used to designate both murder and manslaughter.
A number of Biblical scholars share the same view of the context of these scriptures which can be found in numerous Bible translations.. Even the the definition of “to murder, kill” is found in the Strong’s Concordance. Another scholar defines the term used in Exodus 20:13 as, “Murder, by these definitions, does not include sanctioned (legal) killing as in capital punishment, war, or self-defense.” It is Wilma Bailey’s argument in my opinion that “murder” is the proper word to place in the Sixth Commandment. Additionally, allow me to also point out the existence of “cities of refuge” as found in Joshua 20. If there were not any variation to the meaning of “kill” there would be no use for such “cities of refuge”. Laws were also established regarding the actual act of killing another person with violence as noted in Exodus 21:12 where it says, “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” This law clearly means that it is unlawful to strike a man intending to kill him in cold blood, futher supporting the term “murder” to be substituted for the word “kill” in the King James version of Exodus 20:13. Under such law, capital punishment was also allowed for violations of the most serious laws, thus permitting killing under the instruction of executing punishments and war.
 The word “kill” is given in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 in KJV, while the word murder is used in many newer versions such as the NIV.
 Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Ten Commandments, #6 Prohibition of Murder (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001), 1173.
 Edward W. Goodrick, The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew to English (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 1491.
 Wilma Bailer, “You Shall Not Kill: The meaning of RṢḤ (rtsh) in Exodus 20:13”, Encounter 65, no. 1 (2004): 41.
Examples Of War In The Old Testament
The Old Testament identifies countless cases of war and genocide. If God commanded that pacifism was His way, He would have commanded the Israelites to abstain from violence against their neighbors. We see extreme acts of war as in 1 Samuel 15:3, where God instructs Saul to “utterly destroy all that they have” in a battle. Case and point, 1 Samuel 17, a battle is being waged by God’s newly anointed king David on an innocent village of strangers. Mark Jones explains, “unlike many other encounters David had with the Philistines, this was not a military battle; it was a slaughter.” He goes on to say, “Old Testament war was often total war, meaning that anyone was fair game. There was no distinction between innocent civilians and soldiers.” So, it is clear that there was not only war, but also a form of totalitarianism. If God allowed these actions to take place, thus allowing these actions; how does these beliefs translate into the message of grace, mercy, and love of the New Testament?
What Jesus Has To Say Regarding War
Jesus has much to say regarding violence, war, and the act of killing in the New Testament that is to be applied to the operation of the Church until the rapture. Jesus commands us clearly to, “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:36-40 [KJV]). If we loved our neighbors as ourselves, would we be willing to take their lives as our country does today? Laurie Johnston describes God’s mercy as the following:
Our experience of this mercy is, in itself, a testimony to the most remarkable way in which God has demonstrated love for enemies: God has shown mercy to us, despite the ways we have shown enmity toward God by sinning.
St. Augustine of Hippo turned away from the pacifism of the early church using what is referred to as the “just war theory”. This theory points out that war is justified by means of referencing biblical history, the conversion of civilians within a territory, or many other reasons one could use to portray themselves as the “righteous party” in the conflict. Whether there is scriptural justification for this theory is not clear. One thing we do know for sure is that God surely doesn’t change who he is (Mal 3:6 [NKJV]) and if He doesn’t change, neither does His view of elements such as laws and war. If we allow evil to run rampant and have its way, there would be no way to stop it without violence. Could Hitler have been defeated with pacifism? To call Jesus anti-violence would be to call Him anti-justice and I do not believe that is what He would stand for today.
The definition of the commandment as given in Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 very specifically address the act of murder and not that of killing in the act of war. However, it is my belief that the act of killing in any fashion whether indirect, direct, war, pre-meditated does not come without consequence. As a member of law enforcement and a military family, I have seen first-hand the after effects of what happens to those who have killed another human being. The effects are enormous and many seek repentance/forgiveness regardless of the circumstances. I would highly advise that if a person has never been placed into the position to take another person’s life that they not pass judgment on those who have. It is not a decision that is without consequence or burden. It is for this reason that I pray none of us are ever placed into that position, but when faced with the threat of war or life threatening violence I must say that I am in support of whatever means that have to be used to defend ourselves. As evidenced throughout these given scriptures of the Bible and the academic sources, I must conclude that to kill in the act of war is not specifically a sin, but to commit pre-meditated or spontaneous murder is. It is clear that the Ten Commandments condemn anyone who commits murder under these pretenses as a sinner in need of redemption. Killing as a matter of war is a command from authority as well as an act of defense. Romans 13:1 (KJV) instructs us clearly to “be subject” to our “governing authorities”, as it is by His will that they are in place. If these authorities take us into battle, putting us into position to defend ourselves and take the life of another we must do so under their command. There is no clear violation of God’s commands as it pertains to actions taken as a part of war.
 Mark Jones, Criminals of The Bible: Twenty-Five Case Studies of Biblical Crimes and Outlaws. (Grand Haven, Michigan: Faith Walk Publishing, 2006), 91.
 Jones, Criminals of The Bible, 91.
 Ibid, 91.
 Laurie Johnston, “Love Your Enemies—Even in The Age of Terrorism?,” Political Theology 6 (January 2005): 88.
 Johnston, “Love Your Enemies”, 93
 righteous party: would be my term describing a party who has declared themselves to be taking action based on the blessing of God Himself or scripture.
 Ibid, 90.
Bailey, Wilma Ann. "'You shall not kill': the meaning of RṢḤ (rtsh) in Exodus 20:13." Encounter 65, no. 1 (2004 2004): 39-53. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).
Elwell, Walter, A. Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.
Goodrick, Edward W. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999.
Johnston, Laurie. "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"--EVEN IN THE AGE OF TERRORISM?." Political Theology 6, no. 1 (January 2005): 87-106. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).
Jones, Mark. Criminals Of The Bible: Twenty-Five Case Studies of Biblical Crimes and Outlaws. Grand Haven, Michigan: Faith Walk Publishing, 2006.
Kah-Jin Jeffrey, Kuan. "Biblical Interpretation and the Rhetoric of Violence and War." Asia Journal Of Theology 23, no. 2 (October 2009): 189-203. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).
Kok, Jacobus (Kobus) ed. "Killing." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Ethics. Oxford Biblical Studies Online, http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/article/opr/t430/e183 (accessed 19-Mar-2017).
Lawrenz, Jason. "WHEN THOUGHTS KILL." Ignite Your Faith 67, no. 7 (Spring2009 2009): 17. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).
Metzger, Bruce M. Coogan, Michael D., Crenshaw, James L. ed. "Murder." In The Oxford Companion to the Bible.OxfordBiblicalStudiesOnline, http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/article/opr/t120/e0504 (accessed 19-Mar-2017).
Ottati, Douglas F. "Reflections on the Sixth Commandment in a Time of War, Terror, Torture, Starvation, and Disease." Network News 25, no. 3 (Summer2005 2005): 21-26. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).
Tizon, Al. "Preaching for Shalom: Life and Peace." Asian Journal Of Pentecostal Studies 19, no. 1 (February 2016): 17-29. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 18, 2017).