Course Outline: First Principles

 

I.    Revelation

Truth is absolute and knowable. (In contradistinction to the subjectivism of today). The truths of Christianity are not personally amendable or subject to cultural changes. Philosophical world-view of Bible contrasted with Modernism and the relativist, Postmodernism of today.    It is the principle of "revelation" that anchors the believer in the assurance that there is an ultimate "Truth".      

A. Godís general revelation is given to all men, yet is incomplete.   According to scripture, there are certain aspects of God that have been made plain to all.  (see Romans 1:19-20)   This general knowledge of God accounts for why mankind has been insatiably religious in ever culture, in every age.  There are several areas one might investigate regarding the general revelation.  

  1. Logic or Reason: God can be reasonably deduced as a necessary Being.  Philosophers as far back as Plato have reasoned out the existence of a single, Eternal God.  Following are the "classical" arguments for Gods existence

            a.  Ontological Argument:  Anselm, Descartes.  (God is necessary as the superlative of qualities such as "goodness", "powerful", "holy").

            b.  Cosmological Argument- Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas.  (God is necessary to account for the existence of matter, energy, motion)

            c.  Teleological Argument-  Paley's "Watchmaker"  (God is necessary to account for purpose and  and design in creation).  

    2.   Observation of Nature: God shows his existence through nature (Psalm 19, Roms 1)

            a.   He is understood as distinct from nature. (See chart contrasting Pantheism, Theism, Polytheism)

            b    Design and complexity speaks of an intelligent Designer.  As scientific knowledge progresses, it provides only more evidence that the universe and the life therein could not have arisen by chance.  The universe was "Fine Tuned".  This argument is an modern application of the Teleological argument.   Perhaps the most difficult for a skeptic to answer.  

    3. Conscience: (via Innate Moral law) necessitates a Holy Creator - Immanuel Kant, C.S.Lewis

  1. Universal "ought" points to a higher moral authority.  
  2. Presuppositions such as truth and error demand non-naturalistic answer
  3. Human need tends towards "God" whether a facet of culture or not.

B. The 66 Books of the Bible are Godís specific and direct revelation, which is the infallible and sole source for doctrine.

1. All scripture is God-breathed and useful for doctrine, and training etc.(2 Tim 3:16)(Psalm 119:89) Forever settled in heaven. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Mat 24:35)

  1. Men were inspired by Holy Spirit to write each book. Not "private interpretation" ie. Potentially erroneous personal viewpoints.
  2. The Bible is properly understood in the context it was written therefore needs to be studied, which can be aided by contextual sources.

4. Personal revelation (a "word" from God or prophecy) cannot supercede scriptural revelation

(Possible links: The historicity and reliability of the Bible; The canon and the Apocrypha; Greek manuscripts and the KJV controversy, The Tetragrammaton and NWT, Bible Stat sheet)

 

  1. God : There is a need to reaffirm what are fundamental teachings about the Godhead. Particularly in light of recent theological events such as the "Re-imaging the Godhead" conference and other post-modernist assaults upon the identity of God Almighty, it is necessary to clearly delineate what the historic Christian church has always held about God.

 

  1. His Eternal (Incommunicable) qualities These are qualities that are unique and specific for Deity alone. That which is creature by nature does not possess these qualities, nor can they be communicated/bestowed upon anything.

1. Uncreated

2. Omnipotent

3. Omniscient

4. Omnipresent

5. Omnichronological (Expresses that God exists on all points of our time simultaneously; Everlasting or Eternal denote that He is without beginning or end, yet does not communicate that He is completely free from our constraints of time, and exists everywhere as the everpresent "I Am".

  1. Sovereign

 

B. Traits with respect to us (Moral attributes): These qualities in seeming paradoxical pairs normally. The reason being that non-Christians frequently pose the question "how can a loving God send anyone to Hell Etc. The Answer of course is in understanding Justice and Righteousness as predicate qualities to His Mercy and Kindness. These Moral Attributes, It might be noted, are communicated to the believer and are realized in our own life as we become progressively conformed to His image

  1. Both Merciful and Just
  2. Loving and Righteous
  3. Freely Forgiving Sin, yet exacting perfect Holiness

 

C..Truly One, yet eternally exists as a Tri-Unity.

  1. Understood by the church as One Substance.3 Persons
  2. Was foreshadowed in OT, realized in New, defined by Post-apostolic church
  3. False Views:

Subordinationism (Arians, JW's of Today)

Oneness (Sabellius, United Pentecostal of Today)

 

Links: Trinity Chart, Godhead views contrasted chart, FAQ links such as: If God is Good and Omniscient, why did He let Adam sin? What about ancient pagan trinities? Did the church borrow from those? How can a Good God send anyone to hell? Isn't the God of the OT wrathful and the God of the NT full of mercy? )

 

III. Christ

A. The prophesied Messiah of God. Proven by his miracles, fulfillment of prophecy and resurrection to be Lord and Christ.

1. Prophecies were in many cases specific and unambiguous

2. Christ's actions (Miracles, forgiving sins) validated his identity

3. His Resurrection is God's ultimate validation

B. The "Hope of the Nations" for all cultures, evidenced by "seeds of truth" scattered throughout the mythos of numerous belief systems and religions.

1. Logos of Philo and other Greeks and Platonists

2. God's Son as foretold by the Sibyl for the Romans

3. Shown in rudimentary, sometimes corrupt form in many heathen religions.

4. Expected by Romans, Chinese etc.

C. Fully Divine yet Fully Human.

1. Claimed to be God and Worshipped as God

2. With respect to Human nature, grew in normal fashion

3. Both natures present in "Hypostatic Union" without confusion, in one person.

D. Came to earth for the express purpose of being the appeasing sacrifice that reconciles humankind with God. This perfectly satisfies Godís Justice

1. Is the foremost expression of God's Love- John3:16

2. Was fully aware of His mission

3. Was fully cognizant of His Deity

4. His sacrifice on Calvary is complete (paid in Full) with respect to our sin. (Did not go to hell to suffer)

( Links: Did Jesus know that He was God? Could he have sinned? Link to early church fathers proving his Deity; fulfilled messianic prophecy charts )

IV. Holy Spirit

  1. Consistently presented throughout the Bible as a "person" of the Godhead.
  2. First role in a believer is to "seal" us as being in Christ
  1. The Holy Spirit regenerates our Human spirit at moment of salvation
  2. He is the Guarantor of our future Glory

 

C. Holy Spirit has an active ministry today,

  1. Internally, as the interface between our spirit and the Godhead

a. Leading us into all truth

b. Convicting individuals of sin

  1. Bearing witness that we are of God
  2. Shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts
  3. Birthing "fruit" with respect to our character.
  4. Progressively assisting in our sanctification, ie. Process towards Christ likeness

 

  1. His External or "Ecclesiastical ministry"
  1. 9 gifts of the Spirit, for the edification of the Body
  2. Various giftings and offices, likewise for strengthening of the church.
  3. Gifts and Offices are to remain in church until end of the church age

V. Mankind

  1. Made in Image of God
  1. Tripartite: Body, Soul, and Spirit- 1 Thess 5:23, Just as God is Tri-unity
  2. Made with Free Will
  3. Created Innocent and untainted
  1. By his own volition, Adam sinned and brought "death" to earth
  1. Spirit became "darkened" and "dead" to God
  2. Brought curse to the earth and all that made of "earth" (including his flesh, made from earth)
  3. All of Creation became subject to vanity and frustration (Romans 8: )
  1. Mankind now reaps after effects still
  1. Every human has the propensity and tendency towards sin. Completely incapable of living sinlessly
  1. Cain serves as good type for this
  2. This condition is actually part of God-ordained "frustration" of creation.
  1. Every human, having sinned, shares in guiltworthiness of whole Adamic race
  1. Contingent upon our personal sin, rather than instant guiltworthiness of Adam's sin
  2. Having sinned, man merits a "sin debt", offense against his Creator, that he cannot pay back
  1. The natural man's Spirit remains dead to God, in need of regeneration.
  1. Unregenerate man is called "natural" (psychickos) or soulish. Regrdless of personal morality or religion, still remains spiritually "dead" to God.
  2. Psychikos does not understand the things of God, they are spiritually discerned, so he cannot arrive at knowledge of truth on own.
  3. True need is to be regenerated or "born-again". To have one's spirit revivified
  4. Natural man is locked in a position of unrighteousness before God, (a sinner) and is in need of reconciliation with God.

5. Because the Man's problem is one of having a dead spirit, an unpayable sin-debt, and legally being a "sinner", no amount of reform, religion, good deeds, etc, in any way changes our status before God.

.

(Link: Pelegian controversy; Models of man,

 

VI. Salvation

  1. Christís sacrifice is fully sufficient to atone for all sin; It eradicates the Ďsin debtí.
  1. Christ was "Lamb of God" akin to Paschal Lamb of Old Covenant
  2. Justice is satisfied with the sacrifice for everything
  3. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself
  1. Our role is to respond via repentance and receive the Free Gift by faith
  1. We are freely justified, Sola Fides, no works involved
  2. Righteousness (Right-standing) is imputed
  3. We are redeemed (bought back)
  4. We receive full forgiveness of sins
  1. God brings the full benefit of salvation to the full man:

1.Our Spirit

  1. Is regenerated (made alive again, born again))
  2. Refashioned as a New Creation
  3. Now seen as Holy and blameless, as Christ is
  4. Is united to Holy Spirit, now in Communion with Godhead
  5. Said to be raised and seated in heavenly places
  6. Declared to be a "son of God", true child
  1. Our Soul
  1. Starts a transformation process of renewal
  2. Daily experiences greater sanctification
  3. Is purged as we set our minds on things of the Spirit, and we receive illumination.
  4. Begins to pursue holiness, progressively growing in Christ likeness

 

  1. Our Body/Flesh
  1. Reaps rewards indirectly (Holy living is frequently healthy living)
  2. Can experience benefits of supernatural healing (provision for healing in atonement, but controlled by God's sovereignty)
  3. Will experience complete liberty of New Man at the revelation of the sons of God, the resurrection of our flesh

(Links: Eternal Security: Fact or Fiction?; What is the role of Works in our salvation? What about those who never heard of Christ?, Benefits of Calvary )

 

VII. The Church

A What is the Church

1.The Church katholic (Universal)

Those regenerate and in Christ, all over the world, throughout history

  1. Enjoys Unity in the essential (apostolic Rule of Faith)
  2. Began on Pentecost, here to demonstrate God's Wisdom and character
  3. Has Christ as Head, built upon Foundation of apostles and prophets
  1. The Church Local
  1. Physical and tangible expression of the Church Universal
  2. Autonomous in government (Christ as head) , yet interdependent upon other local bodies
  3. Exists as a "body" , microcosm of Church Universal
  4. Is recognized as "covenantal Body" before God. Each has duties towards others in Covenant.
  1. Role and Function of Church Today
  1. Is the primary locale for the gathering of saints for corporate worship
  2. It is the primary place for the equipping and edification of the saints
  3. It is the primary expression for the mobilization of the Body of Christ in fulfilling the Great Commission
  4. It is the God-ordained instrument for the administration of the new Covenant ordinances (ie. Lord's Supper and Baptism)
  1. This Church:Jericho Christian Fellowship
  1. History and governmental structure
  2. Mission and History
  1. Future of Church
  1. Destined to prevail over Gates of Hell, here until Christ's enemies made a footstool for His feet
  2. Destined to be the model t the universe of God's Mercy and wisdom

 

VIII. Christian Living

  1. Growing in Grace. (GRACE Acronym)
  1. Grace is the Foundation of the "Love Walk"
  2. Grace Strengthens the inner man ( ),
  3. Empowers us to labor ie. Good works( 1 Cor. 15; ),
  4. Causes us to see the Goodness of God. Missing the principle of "Grace" results in "bitter roots" (legalism) growing and defiling many.
  1. Prayer
  1. Prayer is our communion with God.
  2. May have both objective results (ie. God answers and changes circumstances) as well as Subjective (the prayer changes us and our perspective)
  3. There are various types of prayer
  1. Bible Reading.
  1. Studying to show ourselves approved is presumed for all.
  2. Studying Godís Word helps set the parameters for knowing Godís voice
  3. It effects our sanctification (John 17:17; Psalm 119: )
  1. Participation in Advancing Godís Kingdom.
  1. We exist for the purpose of moving His kingdom forward.
  2. That does not necessarily equate to Ďchurch growth", but body of Christ must indeed come to maturity.

 

IX. The End Times

  1. Began at Pentecost, but has a "not yet" aspect
  1. Peters citation from Joel
  2. Paul 2 Thess comments on future "last days"
  1. Most parables of Jesus are eschatological in Nature
  1. Focusing on our need to be ready
  2. Focusing on God's separation of righteous and unrighteous
  1. Many statements from epistles are paradoxical
  1. Some highlight increase of wickedness
  2. Others focus on Dominion of church
  1. Future culminates with judgment upon the wicked and the vindication of the righteous.

1. The Church will ultimately achieve Glory, whether it is seen as progressive victory through church age, or God's instantaneous transformation via "catching up"

2. The wicked are judged and condemned, destroyed as to their earthly existence, punished everlastingly as to their "souls"

  1. New Heavens and New Earth eradicate any last vestiges of all manner of sin and curse

Links: The futility of date-setting, and cautions on squeezing contemporary headlines into end-time prophecy, charts on various positions.

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