Sunday, December 11, 2011


In the first Century, Christians came up with a symbol to show if they were a Christian.  They did this because of the persecution of Christians that was prevalent in the first few hundred years after Christ.  The symbol was a fish.  Christians today still slap a bumper sticker of the “Jesus fish” to their cars and call themselves Christians.  The reason those first Century Christians chose a fish was because of its letters.  They made the acronym utilizing the letters that made up the Greek word for fish, ichthus (ἰχθύς).  Each letter stands for Jesus, Christ, God’s Son, Savior.  That last word is where the title of this article is derived.  Soteriology is the study of salvation (from σωτήρ (sōtēr) meaning “savior”).  You have to start from why salvation is needed.

When God created the world, he was fully present with his creation.  When men sinned, that made a separation between humans and God, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1–2, ESV).  God cannot look upon evil, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong,” (Habakkuk 1:13a).  There is a need for a savior because sin and evil are prevalent in the world and God wants to be fully present again.

Stanley Grenz noted, “In his response to Arius, Athanasius showed that the deity of the Spirit is necessitated by soteriology.  If the Spirit who enters our hearts as believes is not the actual Spirit of God, then we have no true community with God.”  In other words, you are not saved if you do not have God’s Spirit.  Paul lays this out beautifully concerning the Ephesians’ salvation in 1:3-14, but look specifically at verses 13-14, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”  It is impossible to have salvation (sōtēria) without “the promised Holy Spirit.”

Sunday, December 4, 2011


            People through church history have been hesitant to use unbiblical terms.  One of the restoration pleas that developed was from Alexander Campbell, “Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”  Because of this mentality, which is helpful, many stay away from any term that cannot be found in the scriptures.  If Christendom was to follow through with this, topics like “providence” and “restoration” must be avoided because of their lacking appearance in the Bible.  Christians are affirmed that God does provide and he desires to restore his people back to fellowship with himself.  Thus, providence and restoration are topics Christians cannot afford to avoid.  The same is true with the Trinity.
            The Holy Spirit as part of a divine Trinity may be confused as tri-deism.  The divine plural seen in Genesis 1-11 has similar implications to the concept of a Triune God.  The Holy Spirit is not some arbitrary thing or “glorified ‘it’” as Earl Edwards puts it.  The word for “spirit” is a neuter noun, but when the personal pronoun is used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit it is the masculine, “he.”  Let not the believer in God be confused about the oneness of God,

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God… (Exodus 20:1–5a, ESV).

            The eternally present, divine, equal, and unified Trinity does not consider its three “persons” as separate.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit make up the one God of Abraham, who formed Adam and created the world, who came in the flesh then died leaving the Comforter until judgment day.  These three persons of God are evident in the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:16-17) and his great commission before he ascends to be with the Father (Matt. 28:19).

Friday, December 2, 2011


           Theology is a fancy word for the study of God (theos).  People carry many different ideas about who God is and what his nature entails.  There is a plural nature to God seen very early in the Bible, Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  The narrator uses these plural words (us and our) to describe God.  Some theologians explain these plurals used in Genesis 1-11 and other places in the Bible to portray a divine counsel of sorts that includes celestial beings.  Since God and the Spirit of God are mentioned in the text, that suggests that the plurality of the one God is solely at work in this creative act.  As seen in Christology, God’s son was present during the creation process and is an entity of the unified Godhead seen at work in creation and certainly part of these plurals.

            The study of God encompasses the Trinity.  One cannot get around the idea of three “persons” in one substance when Paul writes things like, “…be filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:18c, 20).  There are truly three parts of God and man has come up with countless metaphors to try and explain this.  Sometimes metaphors can be very dangerous though because they may leave someone with the wrong idea.  Let us stick to the Bible when trying to explain the plural nature of the one God.  Deuteronomy 6:4 does this beautifully, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  Trinitarian Christians are not polytheists or tri-deists, but believe in one God that has different roles that are named in the Bible as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            A temptation might be to make God modal who puts on different masks through history to play different roles.  The problem is we see all three “characters” on the seen at Jesus’ baptism.  The Son was baptized, the Spirit of God descended on him, and the Father spoke from heaven declaring favor for his son. (Matthew 3:16-17).  We must be careful to explain God to others and not give the impression we worship three different gods, but only the one God who is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.