Month: February 2014

Why We Cannot Earn Our Way to Heaven

There are many religions in the world all which are but man’s attempts to achieve a level of “righteousness” to earn his way into to presence of God, heaven, nirvana, or whatever a man believes to be the most desirable eternal state.  There is a common misconception, that if I’m good enough, if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds, I’ll be ok in the end.  That is a lie from the pit of hell.

A number of years back, a Reformed pastor and theologian Lorraine Boettner wrote a book, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination in which, in addition to the main subject of predestination he covered other related subjects.  Among those was the subject of today’s blog.  Why man in his natural state, unregenerated by the Holy Spirit (i.e., not born again) cannot by his good deeds earn God’s approval and consequently earn his way to heaven.

In Boettner’s  book is what I have found to be the most profound, rational, and yet exquisitely clear explanation of why man’s righteousness is insufficient, or as God calls all of man’s righteousnesses, “filthy rags.”  That God says it, should be sufficient, but knowing our weakness and our inquisitiveness, He does graciously allow His people some insights into the hows and whys of some, not all, of His ways.

Following is Section 3 of Boettner’s work in its entirety:

Lorraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

Chapter 10

§3. THE DEFECTS IN MAN’S COMMON VIRTUES pp37-39

 

The unregenerate man can, through common grace, love his family and he may be a good citizen. He may give a million dollars to build a hospital, but he cannot give even a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of Jesus. If a drunkard, he may abstain from drink for utilitarian purposes, but he cannot do it out of love for God. All of his common virtues or good works have a fatal defect in that his motives which prompt them are not to glorify God, — a defect so vital  that it throws any element of goodness as to man wholly into the shade. It matters not how good the works may be in themselves, for so long as the doer of them in out of harmony with God, none of his works are spiritually acceptable. Furthermore, the good works of the unregenerate have no stable foundation, for his nature is still unchanged: and as naturally and as certainly as the washed sow returns to her wallowing in the mire, so he sooner or later returns to his evil ways.

In the realm of morals it is a rule that the morality of the man must precede the morality of the action. One may speak with the tongues of men and of angels; yet if he Is lacking that inward principle of love toward God, he is become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. He may give all his goods to feed the poor, and may give his body to be burned; yet if he lacks that inward principle. it profits him nothing. As human beings we know that an act of service rendered to us (by whatever utilitarian motives prompted) by someone who is at heart our enemy, does not merit our love and approbation. The Scripture statement that “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God,” finds Its explanation in this, that faith is the foundation of all the other virtues, and nothing is acceptable to God which does not flow from right feelings.

A moral act is to be judged by the standard of love to God, which love is, as it were, the soul of all other virtue, and which is bestowed upon us only through grace. Augustine did not deny the existence of natural virtues, such as moderation, honesty, generosity, which constitute a certain merit among men; but be drew a broad line of distinction between these and the specific Christian graces (faith, love and gratitude to God, etc.), which alone are good in the strict sense of the word, and which alone have value before God. This distinction is very plainly illustrated in an example given by W. D. Smith. Says he: “In a gang of pirates we may find many things that are good in themselves. Though they are in wicked rebellion against the laws of the government, they have their own laws and regulations, which they obey strictly. We find among them courage and fidelity, with many other things that will recommend them as pirates. They may do many things, too, which the laws of the government require, but they are not done because the government has so required, but in obedience to their own regulations. For instance the government requires honesty and they may be strictly honest, one with another, In their transactions, and the division of all their spoil. Yet, as respects the government, and the general principle, their whole life is one of the most wicked dishonesty. Now, it is plain, that while they continue in their rebellion they can do nothing to recommend them to the government as citizens. Their first step must be to give up their rebellion, acknowledge their allegiance to the government, and sue for mercy. So all men, in their natural state, are rebels against God, and though they may do many things which the law of God requires, and which will recommend them as men, yet nothing is done with reference to God and His law. Instead, the regulations of society, respect for public opinion, self-interest, their own character in the sight of the world, or some other worldly or wicked motive, reigns supremely; and God, to whom they owe their heart and lives, is forgotten; or, if thought of at all, His claims are wickedly rejected, His counsels spurned, and the heart, in obstinate rebellion, refuses obedience. Now it is plain that while the heart continues in this state the man is a rebel against God, and can do nothing to recommend him to His favor. The first step is to give up his rebellion, repent of his sins, turn to God, and sue for pardon and reconciliation through the Savior. This he is unwilling to do, until he is made willing. He loves his sins, and will continue to love them, until his heart is changed.”

The good actions of unregenerate men, Smith continues, “are not positively sinful in themselves, but sinful from defect. They lack the principle which alone can make them righteous in the sight of God. In the case of the pirates it is easy to see that all their actions are sin against the government. While they continue pirates, their sailing, mending, or rigging the vessel and even their eating and drinking, are all sins in the eyes of the government, as they are only so many expedients to enable them to continue their piratical career, and are parts of their life of rebellion. So with sinners. While the heart is wrong, it vitiates everything in the sight of God, even their most ordinary occupations; for the plain, unequivocal language of God is, ‘Even the lamp of the wicked, is sin,’ Proverbs 21:4.”

It is this inability which the Scriptures teach when they declare that “They that are in the flesh cannot please God,” Romans 8:8; “Whatsoever Is not of faith in sin,” Romans 14:23; and “Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing to Him,” Hebrews 11:6. Hence even the virtues of the unregenerate man are but as plucked and fading flowers. It was because of this that Jesus said to His disciples, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And because those virtues are of this nature, they are only temporary. The one who possesses them is like the seed which falls on the stony soil, which perhaps springs up with promise of fruitage, but soon withers in the sun because it has no root in itself.

It follows also from what has been said that salvation to ABSOLUTELY AND SOLELY OF GRACE,—that God Is free, in consistency with the infinite perfections of His nature, to save none, few, many, or all, according to the sovereign good pleasure of His will. It also follows that salvation is not based on any merits in the creature, and that it depends on God, and not on men, who are, and who are not, to be made partakers of eternal life. God acts as a sovereign in saving some and passing by others who are left to the just recompense of their sins. Sinners are compared to dead men, or even to dry bones in their entire helplessness. In this they are all alike. The choice of some to eternal life is as sovereign as if Christ were to pass through a graveyard and bid one here and another there to come forth, the reason for restoring one to life and leaving another in his grave could be found only in His good pleasure, and not in the dead themselves. Hence the statement that we are foreordained according to the good pleasure of His will, and not after the good inclinations of our own; and in order that we might be holy, not because we were holy (Ephesians 1:4, 5). “Since all men alike deserved only God’s wrath and curse the gift of His only begotten Son to die in the stead of malefactors, as the only possible method of expiating their guilt, is the most stupendous exhibition of undeserved favor and personal love that the universe has ever witnessed.”33

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/boettner/predest.html

Print Basis: Eerdmans, 1932 (copyright not renewed during 1959-61 and has expired)
Language: English
Rights: Public Domain
CCEL Subjects: All; Theology
LC Call no: BT810.B66
LC Subjects: Doctrinal theologySalvation
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All material in these blogs is original material of Michael Fernandez unless otherwise noted.  No copying of the material in these blogs is allowed without permission, unless, it is for the individual’s personal use and/or for use in matarial that will be distributed at no cost to another.  Any material copied and reposted or otherwise reproduced must included an acknowledgment of myself as the author (as well as any other accredited authors included in the material)

A Study on Healing and Other Miracles in the Church Today

By: Michael Fernandez

Introduction

The following study is adapted from the (manuscript) notes to 1st Corinthians 12:9 in Notes, 1st Corinthians, Revision 8-2006 and 8-2006C

The subject at hand is one that has been a source of controversy and contention within the Christian community.  This is unfortunate, as I do not believe it is necessary that it be so.

I do not pretend to be so wise and astute that I can claim to have produced here the definitive work on this subject.  I do believe however, that the Lord has given me some insight into the matter, and therefore, something of value to the Church in examining this subject.  It is my hope that despite any defects in the presentation of the material that follows, God will use this study for the profit of His people by bringing some additional clarity and unity in our views of it.

Applicability of Healing and Other Miracles Today

It is in respect to the issue of applicability today that there is so much division within the body of Christ, as touching on certain gifts of a miraculous nature mentioned in 1st Corinthians 12.  Specifically the [so-called] “sign gifts” of healing, working of miracles, and tongues (speaking in and/or interpretation thereof), cf. 1st Corinthians 12:9-10, 28-30.

On the one side, you have Pentecostal/Charismatic brethren (and I stress the word brethren) who believe that these gifts are to be in operation on a normative basis within the Church today.  On the other hand, there are those brethren (Reformed, Fundamental, et al.) who believe that these “sign” gifts ceased in their entirety with the close of the Apostolic era (ca. 100 AD), and thus, are not applicable today.  Who is right? As we examine the evidence that follows, I believe we will find that both and neither is correct. That is, neither is completely right or completely wrong.  The truth lies somewhere in between the two extremes.

As the implication is that these gifts are miraculous in nature, that is, the gift of “healings” found in 1st Corinthians. 12:9 is a gift of performing miraculous healings after the examples of Jesus and the Apostles (cf. Matthew 8:2, 5; 10:5-8).  I include these other “sign” gifts of performing miracles and tongues, as they fall under the overall umbrella of miracles/miraculous.  I leave out those gifted by God to be healers of the body or soul by mundane means e.g. doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, pastors, elders and others gifted with the spirit of discernment, and ability to counsel biblically.

Defining Our Terms (Footnote 1)

Before continuing, it is necessary to define certain key terms.  This is necessary due to the nature of the subject and the often-visceral reaction it produces in some people on both sides.  One great barrier to understanding between opposing sides in a debate, is the confusion that results when two sides use common terminology, but without having a common definition of the terms used.  Whether intentionally, as is done by pseudo-Christian cults, or unintentionally as sometimes occurs between brethren; the lack of having a commonly agreed upon or understood definition to key terms is a prime cause of error and misunderstanding.

Miracle/Miraculous:      For the purpose of this study, by miracle/miraculous, I mean the following:  An act or event that involves the complete suspension or violation of the natural laws of the universe as ordained by God in the beginning of the creation.  I do not mean those acts by which those laws are manipulated in some way as to bring about an otherwise natural or possibly natural result.

1)      While there is precedent in nature for animals to have various limbs and/or other organs, such as eyes re-grow after a loss by means of naturally designed processes.  There is no precedent in nature for one having been born blind, to suddenly receive not only the physical ability to see, but also the corresponding ability to understand what is being seen (cf. John 9:1).  That is a miracle.

2)      Related to the above, as there is again, no precedent in nature, is the making whole of a person’s limb that has been either missing or deformed from birth, without modern surgical techniques.  That would be a miracle.  Likewise the instantaneous restoration of a damaged or deformed limb that has been in that state for a period of years (cf. John 5:1-9), or even less time (cf. Luke 22:51), to full function. Those are miracles.

Providential Act:  An act or event that, while it may be unusual, and possibly miraculous, may also be attributed to the manipulation of natural processes in such a way as to bring about the desired result, usually some beneficial act.

1)      George Mueller (September 27, 1805 – March 10, 1898) ran orphanages in England. He depended fully upon the Lord for everything.  He never held fundraisers, or in any way made known to others, the needs of the orphanages he ran or their children.  The only one to whom he went with his needs was God.  Yet, he and the children never lacked any necessary thing— One day during a severe trial of faith, the Lord laid it on the heart of a brother on his way to work to give a gift for the orphans. He thought he would not go back immediately but would take something that evening. But the Lord so constrained him that he turned his steps right then to the orphan houses. Had it not been for his gift, there would not have been milk for the children that day. Another time it was only an hour until the children would need food for afternoon tea – but there was none until a brother came by with some funds sufficient for the food. [From THE LIFE OF TRUST, by George Müller (1805-1898) and reprinted by The Herald of His Coming]— Were these miracles? No. But it was an example of God’s providential care.

2)      Shortly after the Civil War, a young African male was miraculously delivered from captivity and certain death at the hands of enemy tribesmen in Africa (more on this later).  Following his delivery were a providential series of encounters, first with missionaries, later a sea captain willing to bring him to America, and then in America, with other men and women of influence, these encounters led to this young African becoming a very well known and respected Christian leader. Quite an accomplishment for a young black man who, but a few years earlier, knew nothing of white people, Christ, reading or writing.  That young man was Samuel Morris, still known today as a hero of the Christian faith.

3)      A cancer patient experiences a sudden remission of the cancer, without medical treatment.  A miracle?  Possibly, but not necessarily so, as there is the possibility of such a remission having a natural, if not fully understood, origin.  Such remissions have occurred naturally before.  That God may have begun the process or used or accelerated some natural process is not counted as a miracle for the purpose of this study, but rather, as an act of divine providence.  This is due to the possibility of the remission being the result of natural processes, even if divinely timed or influenced.

As the evidence of Scripture and history demonstrate the continued work of God in providence; providential acts are not a part of the debate over miracles, whether of healing or otherwise.

Is It Biblical?

Can we make any determination from the Bible and the biblical record, of the applicability of healing and/or other miracles in the post-Apostolic church and if so, to what degree?  I believe we can, based on the evidences─ direct, indirect, and inferred─ of Scripture.  It is solely by Scripture that any valid conclusion can be reached─ “To the law and to the prophets” Isaiah pointed out, “if they do not speak according to (i.e. in agreement with) these, it is because there is no light in them.” Cf. Isaiah 8:20, cp Acts 17:11.  Experience(s), anecdotes, even physical evidence, are not sufficient in themselves, though any and all of them may be used to support a conclusion.  Scripture, the Bible, is the final authority.  Any conclusion to be valid must be firmly rooted in Scripture.  Our senses (experience) can deceive us; people can lie to us (anecdotes); and the devil can perform miracles (physical evidences).

Search the Scriptures

The first thing to consider in determining if [miraculous] healings, patterned on the works of healing done by Jesus and the Apostles (cf. Matthew 10:8; 11:5) are to be the norm for the Church today, is to consider the following: According to the Scriptures, was physical healing by miraculous means ever the norm for God’s people?  If so, then there would be precedent for such today.  If not, then to what end were the healings, miracles, signs, and wonders worked by God directly or through His servants, and recorded in the Scriptures, performed?  What can be learned from those events that God divinely inspired to be recorded?

Excluding prophetic utterances (in the sense of foretelling the future) as they belong to a class of miraculous events/acts all their own; the Bible records only 68 miraculous events performed by or on the behalf of the prophets/people of God, in the Old Testament.  Prior to the time of Moses (ca. 1445 B.C.) to the undateable beginning of creation, there were only six (5) specifically recorded events, including the Creation (Genesis, chapters 1-2); Enoch’s translation (Genesis 5); the Flood (Genesis 7); the dispersion of the people at Babel (Genesis 11); Lot’s wife turning to a pillar of salt following the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 19. Counted as one single event as the destruction of the cities of the plain may have been by natural processes directed by God, i.e., providence); Isaac’s birth to Abraham and Sarah, while certainly unusual, was, apart from some assistance from God in the rejuvenation of their procreative abilities, otherwise normal.  It was certainly not on the scale of Jesus’ own birth to a virgin, and so, is not included here as a miracle.

During the Exodus from Egypt, there were 19 distinct events of a miraculous nature performed by or for Moses and/or Aaron (29 if one counts each of the 10 plagues individually).  The pillar of fire/cloud that accompanied and led Israel, and the daily provision of manna are counted as one event each, even though they occurred daily for a period of 40 years.  This is because the two events were clearly limited in their application to Israel’s time in the wilderness and therefore not otherwise normative.  There is even one miracle involving a false prophet (Balaam) and his ass that was made to talk.  All these events are found between Exodus 3:2 and Deuteronomy 34:4.

During the entry into and conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua, there were only three (3) distinct miracles recorded:  The Jordan River divided Jericho’s walls fallen, and the sun and moon standing still (cf. Joshua 3, 6, and 10 respectively).  One other event, the exposure of Aachan’s sin lies more in the realm of providence and so, is not counted here (cf. Joshua 7; 10ff).

During the time of the judges, there were three (3) miraculous events recorded.  2 miracles associated with Samson, the killing of 1,000 Philistine solders using the jawbone of an ass (Judges 15:15) is but one incident demonstrating his God given strength (his supernatural strength being the miracle, not each individual use of that strength).  One other miracle involving Samson was God’s striking a rock to provide water for him to drink (Judges 15:18-19).  While this may have involved some natural process, Scripture says that God Himself split the rock to provide water for Samson, and as this is a direct act by God and so stated by Scripture it qualifies as a miracle for the purpose of this study.  The third miracle during those years was the one associated with Gideon and the fleece that was alternately wet and dry in stark conflict with natural law (Judges 6:36-40).

During the time of Samuel and the united kingdom of Israel (ca. 1070-960 B.C.) there were only four (4) miracles recorded.  The plagues on the Philistines and their God Dagon on account of their possession of the Ark of the Covenant (1st Samuel 5); the miraculous return of the Ark (1st Samuel 6); and the deaths of the men of Shemesh by the hand of God (cf. 1st Samuel 6:19) because they looked into the Ark; and the death of Uzzah for touching the Ark (cf. 2nd Samuel 6:7).

During the years of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah (ca. 960-589 B.C.) there were 29 miraculous events recorded.

  • 2 associated with King Jeroboam I of Israel (his hand withered, then restored; and the rendering of his false altar, cf. 1st Kings 13:1-6).
  • 9 by/for Elijah, including one (1) resurrection (cf. 1st Kings 17:1-2nd Kings 2:11)
  • 14 by/for Elisha, including one (1) healing and two (2) resurrections (cf. 2nd Kings 2:11-13:22).
  • 3 by/for Isaiah, including one (1) healing (cf. 2nd Kings 19-20; Isaiah 6- end).
  • 1 upon Jonah, preserved alive for 3 days/nights in the belly of a great fish (cf. Jonah 1:17-2:10.  The storm at sea, the plant and the worm, are not included, as they may have involved the providential manipulation of natural elements; and Scripture does not specifically state that these were miracles.).

During the post-kingdom years (589-430 B.C.) there are only three (3) miracles recorded.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego preserved alive and unharmed in the fiery furnace.  Daniel preserved alive and unharmed in a den of hungry lions. And finally, the disembodied hand writing on the wall of the palace. (Cf. Daniel chapters 3, 5, and 6)

We see then, that during the course of over 4,000 years, there were only sixty-eight (68) miraculous events recorded in Scripture: from the beginning of the creation, to the closing of the Old Testament canon.  Moreover, of those 68 recorded miracles, almost half (28), were miracles of destruction upon the enemies of God or His people, or by God upon His own people because of their sins!  Only five (5) miracles in the Old Testament involved healing or healing related (resurrection from the dead) events!  Miracles of healing then were clearly not the norm, even as miracles in general were not God’s [normative] way of interacting with, controlling, ruling over His creation.

Consider the numbers.  Sixty-eight recorded miracles in a period of some four thousand plus years.  That averages out to one (1) miraculous event every sixty years, with healing events (5 total) averaging out at one (1) per every six hundred (600) years!  Miracles then are clearly not portrayed in the Old Testament, as being something that can be expected on a regular, let alone daily basis.

Do things change in the New Testament?  Yes and no.  But, before going into that, consider this in regard to the numbers I have presented here.  There are those who would include, or count as miracles several events that I have not (see definitions).  But even if we increased the numbers by one-hundred times (100x), that would only make 6,800 total miracles, including 500 healings in over 4,000 years, and among uncountable millions of people.  Roughly, that averages out to be one miracle for every 7 months (or so), with the average healing coming in at one every 6+ years.  Again, we see relatively few events among a population of hundreds of thousands to millions living at any given time.  (In the first census of Israelites, there were 603,550 men able to bear arms, not counting women or children or old men, cf. Numbers 2:32).

In the New Testament (not counting non-specific references to great numbers of people being healed or having demons cast out, or post-resurrection appearances of Christ) there are fifty-five (55) specific, individual miraculous events recorded.  Fifty-four events in a space of about 100 years (from Jesus’ conception in c. 6 B.C. till the death of the Apostle John c. 95-100 A.D.).  Of these events, the majority (31) did involve healing (as contrasted with the OT)

  • 37 miracles performed by Christ, including 19 healings, 3 resurrections, and His own resurrection.
  • 6 miracles performed by Peter, including 3 healings and 1 resurrection.
  • 9 performed by/for Paul, including 2 healings and 1 resurrection.
  • 1 regarding an unspecified number/type of miracles performed by Stephan.
  • 1 regarding an unspecified number of healings performed by the 70 during their mission.

Clearly, with the advent of Christ and the initiation of His ministry, we have a major change, a 50-fold increase in miracles performed during this period as compared to the prior 4,000 years of recorded history.  But, does this sudden burst of miracles, signs, and wonders, necessitate that such be the norm for the Church today, the post-Apostolic Church [see note to 2nd Corinthians 8:23 (Footnote 2), for a discussion of the biblical distinction between the Apostles of Christ and the apostles of the church[s]]?  No.  It does not necessitate any such thing.  It does not preclude, to be sure, but neither does it necessitate it.

We have already seen, by examining the biblical/historical record, that “miracles”, whether of healing or others are not the normal way God has worked among His people or in His creation.  We also see that there were times of intense (compared to the normal scarcity of) miraculous activity at different times throughout history.  This brings us to the next question to be considered.  What is/are the purpose(s) of miracles, signs, and wonders?

The PURPOSE (s) of Miracles, Signs, and Wonders

In answering the question of purpose (or even attempting to), one must proceed with a great deal of care, not putting any limits on God, that He Himself has not put, and then, expressly so in His revealed Word.  It is not our place to “put God in a box”, so to speak.  The converse is also true.  We must be careful to not attribute to Him, motives, or reasons that He has not already revealed in His Word, whether by direct statements, indirect statements, or which can reasonably be inferred by means of Spirit directed exegesis.

First then, we must see what God says directly regarding His purpose(s) in miracles, signs, and wonders.  Second, we look at indirect statements, i.e. those derived from God’s choice of Words, as words have meanings, some unchanging, other change depending upon how they are used (context, context driven).  The language used can often tell us something important (see related note to Galatians 3:16, The Use of Language) (Footnote 3).  Third, we must see what we can learn from the pattern or design revealed to us by Scripture, in the occurrences of miracles, signs, and wonders, to see what we can reasonably infer or extrapolate from such a divinely inspired pattern or design.  Of course, this last is the weakest of the three types of evidence, and the most subject to subjectivism, and so, is best viewed in a supporting role only.

Examining the Evidence for Purpose

 Before examining the evidence regarding God’s purpose(s) in miracles, signs, and wonders, I would like to mention an important rule to keep in mind when interpreting Scripture.  It concerns the level of authority different types of evidence have.  Direct Statements/Teachings take precedence over indirect or inferred statements/teachings.  Indirect Statements take precedence over that which can be inferred.  Both indirect and inferred statements and/or evidences are used only to support that which is taught directly; that is, no biblical doctrine can be based upon indirect and/or inferred evidence(s) only.  Where there are two direct statements or teachings that seem to contradict, then, and only then, can indirect or inferred evidence be used; not so much to overrule the conflicting statement, but rather, to bring into harmony the two seemingly conflicting passages with one another and/or harmony with the rest of Scripture’s teachings on that specific subject.  It must be understood, there are no actual contradictions in what Scripture teaches.  (See for example, related note to Romans 11:26, When All Means— Something Else? ) (Footnote 4).

Direct Statements

First and foremost, healing miracles, miracles, signs, and wonders are, for the purpose of declaring the Glory of God, as is everything else in creation.  See John 2:11 (speaking of God the Son); 11:40-42; cf. Psalms 19:1; 86:8-9; 111:3, etc.

Second, they are to manifest the presence of God [Father, Son, and/or Holy Spirit].  Cf. Exodus 13:21; Judges 6:12-24.

Third, they are to authenticate the Messiah, the Christ of God.  Matthew 11:2-5; John 20:30-31; and Acts 2:22 all speak of this purpose.

Fourth, they are to authenticate His Word [spoken] by His messengers the prophets and Apostles, and/or their ministry in His service.  This is especially so as they would be the means by which He would reveal Himself to mankind [Scripture, specific revelation]; to prophecy Christ’s coming [OT prophets], or to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, the New Covenant, as preached by the Apostles and recorded in the New Testament.  See Exodus 4:1-9; Mark 16:20; Romans 15:18-19; 2nd Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:2-4.

The preceding are all direct statements, teachings of God regarding His purposes in performing miracles:  His glory declared; His presence manifested; His Messiah and His messengers authenticated.  There are no direct statements in Scripture that speak of miracles or miraculous healings being the expected norm in the lives of God’s people in this still fallen world.  And that includes Mark 16:17-18, which deals with the use of authenticating miracles (more on this later).  Neither are there any direct statements to the effect that the purpose of miracles/healings, or any other spiritual gift being solely the “earthly: benefit” of the recipient.  On the contrary, 1st Corinthians 12:4-7 (see note to same, The Profit of all (Footnote 5)) speaks directly to this, saying that they [spiritual gifts, including those of a miraculous nature] are for the profit or benefit of the body of Christ.

Before going on to indirect and inferred evidence(s) regarding God’s purposes for miracles, signs, and wonders, allow me to reiterate what I said about the levels of authority of the types of evidence found in Scripture.  Direct Statements/Teachings (on any subject in Scripture) overrule any and all indirect statements or implied statements on the same subject.  Therefore, anything we may believe is being taught by implication or inference has validity only if 1.) There is no direct statement that contradicts the implied or inferred teaching and/or; 2.)  There is no conflict with the general context of Scripture. God’s Word Does Not Contradict Itself!  We therefore, would do well to not do so ourselves in order to prove some pet theory or belief.

Indirect Statements

There are several indirect statements indicating God’s purposes in healing miracles, signs, and wonders.  As for healing miracles, the subject that began this study (see 1st Corinthians 12:9 and notes to same in Notes: (mss) 1st Corinthians 8-2006C), we find in 1st Corinthians 12:9, in reference to the gift of “healings: the Greek word ιαματων ([Strong’s #2386, iama ee’-am-ah from 2390; a cure (the effect): –healing].  It is only found three (3) times in Scripture: 1st Corinthians 12:9; 28, and 30.   It is derived from the word ιάομαι [Strong’s #2390, iaomai], which is used in connection with physical healing, but also has a spiritual aspect to it.  Of the 29 times iaomai is used in Scripture, it is twice rendered “made whole” and six (6) times used in direct reference to spiritual healing.  Compare Matthew 13:15; John 12:40; Acts 28:27; Hebrews 12:13; James 5:16; and 1st Peter 2:24; these along with Matthew 15:28 and Acts 9:34 “made whole” reveal a spiritual level not found in another Greek word for “healing”, θεραπεία [Strong’s #2322, therapeia].  The Lord’s choice of ιαματων [#2386] instead of θεραπεία [#2322] indicates then, that these “gifts of healing” are of a spiritual nature and origin, and not the more mundane gift of healing by medical or surgical skill and techniques; although that cannot be ruled out absolutely.

There are a number of different words used in Scripture from which we get the English words miracle(s), sign(s) and wonders.  Following is a table showing their meanings and the Strong’s number(s) for the Hebrew/Greek word(s) from which they come.  Note: only those numbers, whose corresponding words have, among their meanings, a sense of the supernatural, are included; though the same word(s), in another context may refer to something more mundane.

WORD TESTAMENT Strong’s Number(s)
Miracles
Old Testament 226, 4159, 6381
New Testament 1411, 4592
Signs Old Testament 226, 852, 4159, 5251
New Testament 4592
Wonders Old Testament 4159, 6381, 6382, 8540
New Testament 4592, 5059

Notice that several of the original language words can have more than one English equivalent, depending on the context in which they are used.  These words can be said to be context or contextually driven as contrasted with those words, which have one and only one meaning.

Miracles, signs, and wonders: Hebrew and Greek Words:

Hebrew:

אוֺת, ‘owth              Strong’s # 226.

Of the 79 occurrences of this Hebrew word in the Old Testament Scriptures, only twice is it used for “miracle”, and 60 times as “sign(s)”. All the remaining uses indicate that its general meaning is that of something that identifies or marks something else e.g. the “mark (‘owth) of Cain” (Genesis 4:15); a signal flag or banner (Psalm 74:4); an agreed upon signal e.g. Rahab’s scarlet line (cf. Joshua 2:12, cf. v. 18);or a divine sign whether natural, the sun, the moon and the stars to mark times or seasons (cf. Genesis 1:14), the blood on the doorposts (Exodus 12:13); or, supernatural, compare Exodus 4:8, 9, 17; 2nd Kings 20:8-9; Isaiah 7:11, 14.  The word ‘owth is never used for “wonders”, and in the two cases where it is used for “miracles” (Deuteronomy 11:3; Numbers 14:22) it is so used in the KJV and is contextually synonymous with (and is so translated in other translations e.g. NKJV) as “signs”, as in signs of authenticating the presence of God or His Word.

מוֹפֵת, mowpheth           Strong’s #4159.

Of 36 uses in Scripture, 25 times it means “wonder(s)”; 8 times “sign(s)”; and only twice as “miracle” [KJV] though contextually it refers to supernatural occurrences performed by God (Exodus 7:9; Deuteronomy 29:3).  The word is often used synonymously with “signs” (Exodus 4:17, 21), both verses referring to the same acts performed by Moses).  The word can also refer to acts that are not supernatural [miraculous] in themselves, but while fully explainable by natural processes, are of such a degree of intensity as to cause “wonder” (cf. Psalm 71:7).  Interestingly, almost every occurrence of the word in reference to supernatural signs/wonders, refers back to those performed by or [by God] on behalf of Moses, during the time of the Exodus.  One notable exception being Deuteronomy 13:1, 2, in reference to the performance of a “sign” [#226] or “wonder” [#4159] performed by a false prophet!  Again, as with #226 ‘owth above, mowpheth must be looked at primarily in its contextual situation if one is to derive any meaning or indication of God’s purpose(s) in these acts.

נֵס, nec                               Strong’s #5251

Of 20 references in Scripture, only once is it used in the supernatural sense of a miraculous sign.  In Numbers 26:10; it is used in reference to the supernatural deaths of Dathan, Abiram and Korah (and their associates), these rebels’ deaths being the sign (the earth swallowing opening and swallowing some, the rest consumed by fire from God, cf. Numbers 16:32,33,35).  All other uses are mundane, “banner”, “sail”, “flag”, etc.

פָּלָא, pala’                     Strong’s #6381

Found 74 times in Scripture, it is only once rendered “miracles” (Judges 6:13) and that in reference back to the miraculous works of God during the Exodus and subsequent conquest of the Promised Land (Exodus – Joshua).  Pala” generally has the meanings of “wonderful”, “marvelous”, “great”, etc. in reference to the works of God; works beyond the abilities of men.  Other than being in the context, generally, of declaring the wonders of God as the All Mighty Creator, it is of little importance to the discussion at hand.

אָת, ‘ath (Aramaic) Strong’s #852, and       תְּמַה, tĕmahh (Aramaic)            Strong’s #8540

These two Aramaic words are found together only in three verses, Daniel 4:2, 3; and 6:27, and correspond to signs and wonders.  They are used in reference to convincing works of God before the pagan kings Nebuchadnezzar and Darius, authenticating both the LORD as the only true GOD and Daniel as His messenger.

A review of the Old Testament usages of miracles, signs, and wonders shows that not only do they have the declared, directly stated purposes referred to above (pp 5-6) but that the very language used, both the words chosen and the context, demonstrates those very same purposes.

Greek

Of the New Testament Scripture’s use of miracles, signs, and wonders, we have the following:

δύναμις, dunamis         Strong’s #1411

Most often translated “power”; only seven (7) of the 123 occurrences of this word are rendered “miracles(s).  In every case where this is rendered “miracle(s)”, it is in reference to some supernatural act(s) done by or in the name of God/Christ.  In addition to “miracle(s)” and “power”, it is also translated as “mighty work”, but never as “sign”.  Thus, to argue that its use in 1st Corinthians 12:10, 28, 29, in reference to what some brethren refer to as “temporary sign gifts” (see John Macarthur and other conservative, non-Pentecostal writers), disallowing any possible continuation beyond the Apostolic era is not (in my opinion) warranted.  But neither does it warrant the unrestricted, unlimited application that many in Pentecostal (and other) circles allow.  Neither the limitation imposed by conservatives, nor the unlimited use by Pentecostals, can be sustained simply by the grammatical usage of the word dunamis.  The historical and circumstantial evidences must be weighed as well.

σημείων sēmeiōn            Strong’s #4592

Semeion is one of those words, which is contextually driver (cf. p.7 above).  Of 77 occurrences in the N.T., 51 of those are translated “sign(s)”.  Other uses are “miracles” and “wonders”.

One important note regarding the Scriptures and “signs” semeia (plural); it is prophesied that Satan and his servants will perform many miracles, signs and lying wonders (cf. 2nd Thessalonians 2:9 below, and compare with Matthew 10:1ff, esp. v 8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead,[c] cast out demons…” Judas Iscariot, the “son of perdition” (cf. John 17:17), a man who was never saved also performed these same miracles; and Luke 10:1ff, esp. vv.1 & 17, again, involving Judas)

9

οὗ
ou
whose
ἐστιν
estin
is

ē
the
παρουσία
parousia
coming
κατ’
kat
accord
ἐνέργειαν
energeian
activity
τοῦ
tou
the
Σατανᾶ
satana
Satan
ἐν
en
with
πάσῃ
pasē
all
δυνάμει
dunamei
power
καὶ
kai
and
σημείοις
sēmeiois
signs
καὶ
kai
and
τέρασιν
terasin
wonders
ψεύδους
pseudous
false.

All the principle terms dunamei, sēmeiois, and, terasnin, found in this verse, apply to the workings of Satan in the end times!

τέρας, teras            Strong’s #5059

This is the last of the Greek terms under consideration.  It is found 16 times and always translated “wonders”.  Strong’s dictionary offers the following to distinguish between the three terms and their purposes (See also Matthew 24:24 and the note to same.) (Footnote 6).

“(A) Teras denotes something strange [author’s note: “strange” not miraculous and/or supernatural, or at least, not necessarily so.] causing the beholder to marvel, and is always used in the plural, always rendered “wonders”, and generally follows (B) semeia (#4592, sign).  A sign is intended to appeal to the understanding, a wonder appeals to the imagination, (C) dunamis (#1411, power) indicates its source as supernatural.” (The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Red Letter Edition © 2001; Thomas Nelson Publishers, [bracketed material added].  Entry under #5059, p. 249 of the Greek Dictionary).  Again, note that this term also applies to the working of Satan in the end times─ a fact that cannot be overemphasized.

Contextual Or Evidence Inferred From Scripture’s Examples

This final examination of evidence types is to look at the whole context of Scripture, to see what can be inferred from God’s Word, especially in the context of what He caused to be recorded, how  He had it recorded (historical context, frequency, etc.), and then, seeing what inferences agree with the direct, clear, unambiguous  statements of Scripture.  As previously mentioned, due to the possibility of subjectivism being involved in this manner of interpreting Scripture, its use should be relegated to a supporting role only.  That is, what can be inferred is valid only to the extent that it supports the clear teaching of Scripture.  No new or contradictory teaching is to be based on evidence inferred from the Scriptures.

As shown earlier, by examining the recorded miracles, we find that such occurrences are, in general, not the normative way that God has operated throughout redemptive history.  Yet, Hebrews 13:8 says, of Jesus (who is God), that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever (see note to Christ’s unchanging nature, The Same Unchanging God) (Footnote 7).  This is a reference to His eternal nature/attributes and not to the specifics of how He works at any given moment in human history.  As demonstrated in the notes to Hebrews 13:8, and from our study here of the subject of healings and miracles, it is self-evident that, while God/Christ does not change in Who or What He IS; He does change His methodology (that is, the specifics of procedure, not nature) of how He deals with His creation in general and mankind in particular.

Not only does the frequency count of the miraculous events recorded indicate (not prove) that such events are not the normal way that God operates, even if increase by a hundred or a thousand fold— Note the word “indicate”. As stated before, while this conclusion may be indicated by this specific set of evidence, it alone is not conclusive and must therefore be considered in light of Direct and Indirect statements on the same subject.

In addition to frequency counts, there is another pattern which can be discerned in Scripture; that of distribution.  God’s miracles are not recorded as occurring at a fixed rate throughout time— e.g. one miracle every 3 months, day, hours, etc.— but rather, in clusters at key points in history—e.g. the creation, the flood, the dispersion of mankind, the selection of a special people, their deliverance and training, the advent of Christ, and the beginning of the Church.  This discernable pattern, along with the frequency counts, when weighed together with God’s directly stated purposes for miracles, signs, and wonders; lends further weight to the non-normative nature of the miraculous. Compared to the span of human existence, from the creation to the closing of the Old Testament canon (approximately 4,000 years; involving hundreds of millions of people) miraculous events are recorded (by the inspiration of God) as occurring only in a small number of relatively brief and comparatively dense groupings.  Further, these periods of miraculous activity (as recorded) occurred only during periods of time during which God was evidently initiating some change in the working out of His overall plan, which He had devised before the very creation even began (cf. Ephesians 3:9-12).

Consider the Following Facts in the light of the Scripture record:

Change #1.)     Following the flood of Noah, no miracles are recorded as having occurred for at least 101 years (cf. Genesis 11:10-18) till the supernatural scattering of the people at the tower of Babel (the division of the earth referred to in Genesis 10:25) as recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.

Change #2.)     Following Babel, according to the Scriptures, it was another 266 years before God intervened directly in human affairs.  This was during the time He was calling out a special people for His name, beginning with Abram (see Genesis 12:1-4, cf. Genesis 11:18- 12:4), for the number of years from Peleg’s birth (they year of the dispersion Genesis 11:9 cf. Genesis 10:25).  to Abram’s birth, plus Abram’s own 75 years of age at the time of his calling).  So, according to Scripture, we have no supernatural interventions by God (recorded) for some 260 odd years.  But, with Abram’s calling, we now have a brief period of divine intervention(s) of a direct nature in human affairs, (Theophanies,  Cristophanies) plus interventions in the course of human affairs (e.g. the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah), divinely assisted conceptions/births, providential care/protection of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, etc. (Genesis 12-36) culminating in Joseph’s slavery, imprisonment, and later providential raising up in Egypt; all due to the working out of God’s divine plan (cf. Genesis 39-50, esp. 50:20).  Then we have silence for about 400 years.  Nothing, no miracles, no revelation, nothing!

Change #3.)     After some 400 plus years of nothing, God begins to act again to implement a new phase of His plan.  Following is a quick review of those phases or steps to this point:

Step 1.) He divided the peoples of the earth. (cf. Genesis 10:25, 32; 11:1-9)

Step 2.) He chose for Himself a single family, ut supra.  And now,

Step 3.) He transforms this family into a nation, beginning a new phase of His eternal plan by choosing Moses as His prophet and the deliverer of His people out of bondage and into the beginning of a new nation and country.  In so doing, God works numerous miracles, by or on the behalf of Moses, Aaron and Joshua, His chosen leaders of this new nation.  The books of Exodus thru Joshua record this unique period of time of daily miraculous provision and visible manifestations of the power, glory and presence of God.  This period lasted only about 60 years, ending with the death of Joshua, cf. Joshua 24:29.

Change #4.)     The development of the newborn nation of Israel as a united nation, as opposed to 12 tribal/family units, united only by blood.  This period, covered by the book of Judges, covers approximately 450 years (cf. Acts 13:20), and sees only sporadic, infrequent intervention of a miraculous nature recoded by the inspiration of God (cf. 2nd Timothy 3:16), and these for only two reasons:

1.      The preservation of His chosen nation so as to fulfill His purposes in their election. And,

2.      To authenticate certain individuals as leaders chosen by Him.  So, following Joshua, we have some 450 odd years with only light to moderate miraculous activity by God, none of which involved healing or any related acts.

Change #5.)     The kingdom years, ca 1050-589 B.C., approx. 470 years.  This period actually begins with the  birth of Samuel the prophet (ca 1105 B.C.) and ends with the events recorded in 2nd Kings and 2nd Chronicles, and so, covers a period of approximately 516 years.  During this time, the only miracles recorded are associated directly with a handful of prophets, and all were related to one or more of the following purposes:

1.      The authentication of their ministry.  And/or,

2.      The preservation of their lives during the course of their ministry.  And/or,

3.      The providential guiding of events to produce the outcome desired of the future birth of the Messiah.

One example of the fulfilling of one or more of the purposes stated above is found in the miraculous provision for the widow of Zarephath and her son, as well as his being raised from the dead.  While these miracles were of obvious benefit to her and her son, their main purpose was the fulfillment of numbers 1 and 2 above; the specific benefits to them being only incidental to the fulfilling of God’s greater design, that of preserving the life of Elijah, and authenticating his status as His prophet.  Further evidence that this period was a change from the norm is found in 1st Samuel 3:1, “the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation” (NKJV, bold and italics added for emphasis.  See also, Note, God Doesn’t Change. ) (Footnote 8).  Thus, the transition into the period of the kingdom of Israel was marked by a change from silence to renewed communication from God.  Note also, if Jesus’ words in Luke 4:25-27 can be believed, [and they can] the only miracles of healing that took place during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha, a period spanning from approximately 874 B.C. (the beginning of the reign of Ahab in Judah, and the beginning of Elisha’s ministry) to sometime after 798 B.C., and before 782 B.C. (the years of king Jehoash (Joash) of Judah, during whose reign Elisha died (cf. 2nd Kings 13:14) or some 76 plus years; were those two!

The period of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was also a period of intense prophetic (both in the sense of forth telling and foretelling. That is to say, of revealing the nature of God, man, man’s place relative to God, and the foretelling of events to come, especially as they related to God’s purposes concerning the coming Messiah and His kingdom) activity.  At least, it was intense relative to the times of the judges preceding and the period following the time of Malachi that followed.  Yet, even in this period of relatively intense divine activity, we see, in reality, few recorded events when one considers the amount of time involved (during the period from Samuel to Malachi, there are only 36 recorded miraculous events, including 2 healings and 2 resurrections, which, if averaged out over the roughly 675 years (ca 1105-ca 430 B.C.) you have one miraculous event for every 18.75 years of time, with healing/healing related events (4 total) averaging out to one (1) every 168.75 years!).  These events however, were concentrated around the ministries of the prophets and the unfolding revelation of God’s plan.

Change #6.)     Following the kingdom years, ca 1050-589 B.C., through to the end of the ministry of Malachi, ca 420 B.C., there was a steady decline in the miraculous.  This 6th change is the absolute shut-down of prophetic revelation, miracles, signs, and wonders for over 400 years, until the conception of John the Baptist, ca 6 B.C., initiating the New Testament era.

How does this relate to healings and any “gift” thereof?  Simple; from ca 1450 B.C. (Moses and the Exodus) till the coming of John the Baptist (about 1446 years) there are only five (5) recorded healings and/or healing related events; three (3) resurrections from the dead— 1st Kings 17:22; 2nd Kings 4:34-35; 13:20-21— and three (3) healings— Numbers 21:5-9; 2nd Kings 5:1-14; Isaiah 38:1-5.  (On a side note:  The healings recorded in Numbers 21:5-9 of those Israelites who had been bitten by deadly serpents.  The serpents in that incident represent the bite (consequences) of sin, sent by God upon the disobedient.  The cure/healing, looking (in faith) upon a bronze serpent hung upon a pole, represents Christ’s death upon the cross, and so, this event was in fact, a living prophecy, a prophecy in pictures).  Six healings I over 1,400 years!  Healings then, according to the biblical record, were not common, or normal, even during the times of comparatively intense miraculous activity by God.  Times when, the Scripture record shows God was initiating changes in the visible manifestation of His plan for mankind.

Change #7.)      The coming of the Messiah and the birth of the New Testament Church.

The initiation of God’s Church, beginning with the advent of Christ, saw a brief (about 70 years) period of very intense (compared to anything before or since) prophetic and miraculous activity, including, and especially so, vast numbers of healings.  It began with John the Baptist’s unusual (to say the least) conception and Jesus’ wholly miraculous conception (with no biological father) to a virgin mother; and reaching a peak of activity during the 3-3½ years of Christ’s earthly ministry, and then, slowly but surely decreasing in level from there (as the Scriptures themselves give evidence).  Thus, ends the 7th and final change, marking the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant.

Summary And Conclusion:

We can see then, from the biblical record (cf. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; 1st Corinthians 10:1-11; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 17:11) the frequency, types, purposes (both declared and implied) of, and patterns of distribution of miracles, signs, and wonders.  It is not unreasonable to conclude, and in fact, it is more than not unreasonable, it is perfectly reasonable and biblical to conclude based on that record, (that was divinely inspired to be recorded), that the performing of miracles has not been, nor is the normal way God operates in this world.  At least, in respect to acts that are by definition (as defined above, pp 1-2) miracles.  (Note:  By general convention, a miracle by its own definition is not a normal event.  If it were, it would, no longer be a miracle; it would be a normal, natural event. There is coming a day when, what we call miracles today will be everyday, natural occurrences, but not until there is a new earth with new laws of operation, where sin and death will be no more.

Having looked closely at the biblical record, we have seen that healings and/or other miracles are not the norm, nor have they been for the majority of man’s existence on the earth, from the creation till the end of the Apostolic era (ca. 100 A.D.),

The question now is, can we say with any certainty that miracles (healing or others) are not the norm, nor are intended to be the norm, for the post-Apostolic Church?  Can we, from the biblical record, the Divinely inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments make any determination as to the applicability of healings/miracles in the post-Apostolic Church?  And, if applicable, to what extent?  Yes, we can.

I believe we can say with great certainty, that miracles are not the normal way God operates in this world.  They have not been the norm in the past, nor are they the norm in the present.  At the same time, while not the norm for the post-Apostolic Church, as far a frequency and/or regularity, they still have their place in this day and age, and will continue to do so until the end of this age.  Saying that they are not the norm is not the same as saying they do not occur or have any place at all in the Church today.

I believe that, while there is a place for healing (and other) miracles, including the so-called “sign gifts” of healings, miracles, and tongues.  They must, at the same time, conform to the design and purposes of God as given in His Word.  These purposes are, in summary:

  • Declare the glory of God.
  • Manifest the presence of God.
  • Authenticate the Word of God as given through His Son, the prophets and/or the Apostles and the other New Testament writers.
  • Authenticate the ministry of His Christ, prophets, and Apostles, including the preservation of their lives until such time as their work on earth has ended.
  • To providentially guide human events to bring about a desired end e.g., the salvation [physical and/or spiritual] of His elect.
  • To providentially provide for the needs of His people when no other means are available or, in His eyes, appropriate (cf. Proverbs 3:34; Matthew 6:31-33; James 4:6; 1st Peter 5:6).
  • To benefit the Body of Christ, which is the Church (See note to 1st Corinthians 12:4-7; The Profit of ALL) (Footnote 5).

When Paul speaks of some having the gifts of healings and/or working of miracles, and/or tongues (1st Corinthians 12:9-19, 28, 30); or, when Mark speaks of the “signs” that would follow “those who believe” (cf. Mark 16:17-18); does this not speak of a change of status for miracles/healings in the Church (Apostolic and beyond) from that of a non-normative to normative state.  While my Pentecostal/Charismatic brethren would argue in the affirmative of such a position, they do so erroneously by  (1.) looking back only to the time of Christ and the Apostles, and (2.) misapplying Hebrews 13:8, the statement about Christ’s unchanging nature as God, to argue that , as miracles and healings were the norm during Christ’s, and the Apostles’ ministries, then they must be the norm today, because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  They err in two ways regarding their use of Hebrews 18:8.  First, they err by misapplying the statement in Hebrews regarding Christ’s immutable nature as God, applying it to His methodology.  Second, they err by not going back to “the beginning”, which, if they had done so, they would have seen that the extremely brief (in terms of man’s existence on the earth until Christ) explosion of miracles, signs, and wonders that characterized the ministries of Christ and the Apostles, was, on this larger scale, a very abnormal period of time compared to the way the Lord had worked throughout all of history before that time.

What was “normal” during the ministries of Christ and the Apostles was not normal in general.  But it was consistent with God’s actions over time in establishing the bona fides of His servants, any time there was a change in methodology or new revelation being given.  This all ended with the closing of the New Testament canon and the establishment of the New Testament Church, in the place of national Israel, as God’s particular and exclusive people.  Thus we are back to the normal state of “non-normalcy” for miracles.  “Non-normalcy” or not being normative is not, however, the same as saying “none whatsoever”!  On the contrary; it simply means that miracles, healing or others are not the norm.

A Final Word And Personal Testimony:

God did and does use miracles and people gifted with special powers (healing, working of miracles, tongues, etc.) in the establishment and spread of His Church.  He did so especially during that key transitional period of moving out of Judaism.  Today, that transition has been over for many, many years.  It has been completed since the closing of the New Testament canon following the death of the last of the Apostles and original disciples.  The canon of Scripture has been fixed.  The Church has been birthed and her purpose and mission revealed.  There are still times and places when God, according to His sovereign purpose and will, does still work miracles in the lives of His saints.  We Know This To Be So.  His Word says it is so.  In Romans 8:28-29, Paul, by the Holy Spirit wrote,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son [the good spoken of in v. 28, for what greater good is there than to be conformed to the image of Christ?], that he might be the firstborn of among many brethren.” (NIV, italics and [] added for emphasis).

Finally, whether accomplished by a miracle involving the elements of the natural world, or not, every born-again Christian is the product of a miracle, the New Birth, having been translated from death to life by the power of God.

Earlier I spoke of Samuel Morris (Samuel Kaboo Morris (1873 – May 12, 1893)), in regard to God’s providence.  I mentioned that there was also a miracle of deliverance that preceded those providential events/encounters.  When Samuel was a youth in Africa by the name of “Kaboo”, never having seen a “white man”, let alone having heard of Christ and His Gospel; this young tribal prince was captured by an enemy tribe and enslaved by its chief, being held for ransom.  For whatever reason, the enemy chief was not satisfied with his father’s ransom payments and determined that Kaboo was to die.  One night before he could be killed, a bright light surrounded him and a voice spoke to him out of the light telling him to flee.  His ropes fell off and his sick abused body recovered its strength and he fled into the night, having his way lit before him, yet his pursuers  (having discovered his escape) remaining in the dark, losing him quickly in the dark nighttime jungle.  His miraculous escape, while not having any other eyewitness testimony to its truth, is nonetheless not without witnesses.  First was his own radically transformed life.  And second; were the many people who knew and witnessed his life and the obvious presence of God in it, including many prominent Christian leaders, both black and white.  Thus, the confirming testimony of his life (cf. 1st Timothy 6:12) confirms the truth of his profession of miraculous deliverance from certain death in the Jungles of Africa.  Further, the testimony of Scripture supports his own, as the miracles of deliverance in his life, are in full accord with God’s revealed purposes in working miracles.

There are, I am sure, hundreds, possibly thousands more cases of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of His saints.  But still, compared to the number of His saints who have lived and died, just since the advent of the Church, those numbers are still small.  Those events are rare and precious.

In my own life, in my conversion, I experienced one true miracle.   I was in a large jail cell, contemplating suicide, resigned to it in fact.  I had come to the realization of how much of a complete mess I had made of my own and others lives and, believing I would spend the rest of my life in prison, I had chosen death as a better alternative (Proverbs 14:12There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” NKJV, bold added), believing that perhaps, with luck, I would come back as a cockroach and start over.  I was in that state of mind, lying on a top bunk at one end of the cell, when a paisa (a Mexican national) was brought in on a parole or probation violation.  He went and sat down next to another paisa on a bottom bunk at the other end of the cell, (about 10-15’ away).  He then began to quietly share the Gospel in Spanish with the other paisa.  Now, in this cell, there were about 20 inmates, many shouting, banging on things and otherwise making noise trying to get attention. — Those who know me, know that I am hard of hearing, especially so in a noisy environment. — Yet, I heard every word of the Gospel that the paisa was sharing just as if he and I were the only ones in the cell and he was sitting right next to me, speaking into my ear.  I knew that it was the presence of God.  To make a long story short, after much arguing with God about how He could possibly want a loser such as me, He won the argument and I gave my life to Him.  Nothing has been the same since.  In the years since then, I have seen God’s hand providentially (but still fully within His own established laws) working to guide, protect and strengthen me in my own life of faith.  I know for a fact that God is still in the miracle business.

In closing this study; to my Pentecostal/Charismatic brethren I have one final word.  Do not let your desire for an increased experience of the presence of God (a worthy desire); lead you to commit the error of those whom the Lord reproved for seeking more and more “signs”.  Seek the Lord and Him alone.  Remember, all that glitters is not gold, nor are all miracles, signs, and wonders, of or from God; the devil has his own.  To my more conservative brethren, I say this; do not let the rarity of genuine miracles lead you to the error of believing that God no longer performs miracles.  Be aware, to deny the work of God is to deny God.  It is not our place to decide what God can or cannot, will or will not do.  These things He has decided for Himself and has given us in His Word.

To God Alone Be The Glory, Now And Forever.        Amen.

M. Fernandez

February 13, 2010

Footnotes

  1. Following are the definitions of miracle according to some other respected sources:

1.1.   Easton’s Bible Dictionary

An event in the external world brought about by the immediate agency or the simple volition of God, operating without the use of means capable of being discerned by the senses, and designed to authenticate the divine commission of a religious teacher and the truth of his message (John 2:18; Matthew 12:38). It is an occurrence at once above nature and above man. It shows the intervention of a power that is not limited by the laws either of matter or of mind, a power interrupting the fixed laws which govern their movements, a supernatural power.

“The suspension or violation of the laws of nature involved in miracles is nothing more than is constantly taking place around us. One force counteracts another: vital force keeps the chemical laws of matter in abeyance; and muscular force can control the action of physical force. When a man raises a weight from the ground, the law of gravity is neither suspended nor violated, but counteracted by a stronger force. The same is true as to the walking of Christ on the water and the swimming of iron at the command of the prophet. The simple and grand truth that the universe is not under the exclusive control of physical forces, but that everywhere and always there is above, separate from and superior to all else, an infinite personal will, not superseding, but directing and controlling all physical causes, acting with or without them.” God ordinarily effects his purpose through the agency of second causes; but he has the power also of effecting his purpose immediately and without the intervention of second causes, i.e., of invading the fixed order, and thus of working miracles. Thus we affirm the possibility of miracles, the possibility of a higher hand intervening to control or reverse nature’s ordinary movements.

In the New Testament these four Greek words are principally used to designate miracles:

(1.) Semeion, a “sign”, i.e., an evidence of a divine commission; an attestation of a divine message (Matthew 12:38, 39; 16:1, 4; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; 23:8; John 2:11, 18, 23; Acts 6:8, etc.); a token of the presence and working of God; the seal of a higher power.

(2.) Terata, “wonders;” wonder-causing events; portents; producing astonishment in the beholder (Acts 2:19).

(3.) Dunameis, “might works;” works of superhuman power (Acts 2:22; Romans 15:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:9); of a new and higher power.

(4.) Erga, “works;” the works of Him who is “wonderful in working” (John 5:20, 36).

Miracles are seals of a divine mission. The sacred writers appealed to them as proofs that they were messengers of God. Our Lord also appealed to miracles as a conclusive proof of his divine mission (John 5:20, 36; 10:25, 38). Thus, being out of the common course of nature and beyond the power of man, they are fitted to convey the impression of the presence and power of God. Where miracles are there certainly God Isaiah The man, therefore, who works a miracle affords thereby clear proof that he comes with the authority of God; they are his credentials that he is God’s messenger. The teacher points to these credentials, and they are a proof that he speaks with the authority of God. He boldly says, “God bears me witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles.”

The credibility of miracles is established by the evidence of the senses on the part of those who are witnesses of them, and to all others by the testimony of such witnesses. The witnesses were competent, and their testimony is trustworthy. Unbelievers, following Hume, deny that any testimony can prove a miracle, because they say miracles are impossible. We have shown that miracles are possible, and surely they can be borne witness to. Surely they are credible when we have abundant and trustworthy evidence of their occurrence. They are credible just as any facts of history well authenticated are credible. Miracles, it is said, are contrary to experience. Of course they are contrary to our experience, but that does not prove that they were contrary to the experience of those who witnessed them. We believe a thousand facts, both of history and of science, that are contrary to our experience, but we believe them on the ground of competent testimony. An atheist or a pantheist must, as a matter of course, deny the possibility of miracles; but to one who believes in a personal God, who in his wisdom may see fit to interfere with the ordinary processes of nature, miracles are not impossible, nor are they incredible. (See LIST OF MIRACLES, Appendix.)

1.2.      Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language

MIR’ACLE, n. [L. miraculum, from miror, to wonder.]

1. Literally, a wonder or wonderful thing; but appropriately,

2. In theology, an event or effect contrary to the established constitution and course of things, or a deviation from the known laws of nature; a supernatural event. Miracles can be wrought only by Almighty power, as when Christ healed lepers, saying, “I will, be thou clean,” or calmed the tempest, “Peace, be still.”

They considered not the miracle of the loaves. Mark 6.

A man approved of God by miracles and signs. Acts.2.

3. Anciently, a spectacle or dramatic representation exhibiting the lives of the saints.

MIR’ACLE, v.t. To make wonderful. [Not used.]

1.3.     Holman Bible Dictionary

MIRACLES, SIGNS, WONDERS

Events which unmistakeably [sic] involve an immediate and powerful action of God designed to reveal His character or purposes. Words used in the Scriptures to describe the miraculous include sign, wonder, work, mighty work, portent, power. These point out the inspired authors’ sense of God’s pervasive activity in nature, history, and people.

Old Testament The two Hebrew words most frequently used for “miracle” are translated “sign” (‘oth) and “wonder” (mopheth). They are synonyms and often occur together in the same text (Exodus 7:3; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 6:22; Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 26:8; Deuteronomy 28:46; Deuteronomy 34:11; Nehemiah 9:10; Psalms 105:27; Isaiah 8:18; Jeremiah 32:20; Daniel 6:27). “Sign” may be an object or daily activity as well as an unexpected divine action (Genesis 1:14; Exodus 12:13, RSV; Joshua 4:6 Ezekiel 24:24. The basic nature of a sign is that it points people to God. “Wonders” describe God’s supernatural activity, a special manifestation of His power (Exodus 7:3), but false prophets can perform actions people perceive as signs and wonders. (Deuteronomy 13:1-3). Wonders can serve as a sign of a future event. Signs seek to bring belief (Exodus 4:5; compare Exodus 10:2), but they do not compel a person to believe (Exodus 4:9). At times God invites people to ask for signs (Isaiah 7:11). The signs He has done should make all peoples on earth stand in awe (Psalms 65:8). They should join the Psalmist in confessing that the God of Israel “alone works wonders” (Psalms 72:18 NAS).

New Testament The phrase “signs and wonders” is often used in the New Testament in the same sense as it is found in the Old Testament and also in Hellenistic literature. (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48; Acts 2:43; Acts 4:30; Acts 5:12; Acts 6:8; Acts 7:36; Acts 14:3; Acts 15:12; Romans 15:19; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4).

“Sign” (semeion) in the New Testament is used of miracles taken as evidence of divine authority. Sometimes it is translated as “miracle” (Luke 23:8 NIV; Acts 4:16,Acts 4:22 NAS, NIV). John was particularly fond of using “sign” to denote miraculous activity (see John 2:11,John 2:18,John 2:23; John 3:2; John 4:54; John 6:2,John 6:14,John 6:26; John 7:31; John 9:16; John 10:41; John 11:47; John 12:18; John 37:1; John 20:30; Revelation 12:1,Revelation 12:3,; Revelation 13:13-14; Revelation 15:1; Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:20)

“Wonders” (teras) translates a Greek word from which the word terror comes. It denotes something unusual that causes the beholder to marvel. Although it usually follows “signs,” it sometimes precedes it (Acts 2:22,Acts 2:43; Acts 6:8) or occurs alone (as in Acts 2:19). Whereas a sign appeals to the understanding, a wonder appeals to the imagination. “Wonders” are usually presented as God’s activity (Acts 2:19; Acts 4:30; Acts 5:12; Acts 6:8; Acts 7:36; Acts 14:3; Acts 15:12), though sometimes they refer to the work of Satan through human instruments (Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:11-13).

New Testament writers also used dunamis, power or inherent ability, to refer to activity of supernatural origin or character (Mark 6:2; Acts 8:13; Acts 19:11; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 12:10,1 Corinthians 12:28-29; Galatians 3:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:9; Hebrews 2:4).

“Work” (ergon) is also employed in the New Testament in the sense of “miracle.” John the Baptist heard of the “works” of Jesus while he was in prison (Matthew 11:2). The apostle John used the term frequently (Matthew 5:20,Matthew 5:36; Matthew 7:3; Matthew 10:38; Matthew 14:11-12; Matthew 15:24).

Worldview Considerations Contemporary philosophical and theological arguments over the possibility and definition of miracle reflect the altered worldview of the last several centuries—from a theistic to a nontheistic concept of the universe. The perceived tension between the natural and the miraculous is a by-product of a naturalism that is intent on squeezing out the supernatural realm of reality.

The people of the bible did not face this problem. The biblical perspective on the universe is that it is created, sustained, and providentially governed by God. The Bible makes no clear-cut distinction between the natural and supernatural. In the “natural” event the Bible views God as working providentially; whereas, in the miraculous, God works in striking ways to call attention to Himself or His purposes.

How do miracles relate to the natural order? Christian thinkers have responded in different ways throughout the centuries. Some hold that miracles are not contrary to nature (Augustine and C. S. Lewis, for instance). This harmony view contends that human knowledge with limited perspective does not fully understand or comprehend the higher laws that God employs in working the miraculous. Others (like Thomas Aquinas) have maintained miracles stand outside the laws of nature. This approach is called the intervention view, based on their belief that God intervenes in the natural order to do the miraculous.

One’s view of the miraculous is related to one’s view of the universe. A mechanistic perspective believes the world is controlled by unalterable natural laws and cannot allow for the possibility of miracles. Christians in every century have refused to have their universe so limited. They have affirmed the continuing miraculous work of God in the universe He created, continues to care for, uses to reveal Himself, and has promised to redeem.

T. R. McNeal


Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. “Entry for ‘MIRACLES, SIGNS, WONDERS'”. “Holman Bible Dictionary”.
<http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T4336&gt;. 1991.

  1. 2nd Corinthians 8:23       Apostles of the Churches
    “αποστολοι εκκλησιων” or apostoloi ekklesion meaning “apostles of the church” as opposed to Paul and the twelve who were called “ως χριστου αποστολοι” hos christou apostoloi, or “apostles of Christ”, (cf. 1st Corinthians 1:1, Paul’s own statement that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, “παυλος κλητος αποστολος ιησου χριστου”).
    From the beginning of the Church, there was a distinction between those who were The Apostles [of Christ], and those who were apostles of the churches.  The same word “apostle” or “sent one”, “special messenger”, etc., (See Strong’s #652) but used in different ways depending on context or application.
    Scripture itself makes the distinction between the two.  For one to have been numbered among The Apostles, one had to have been either chosen directly by Christ (as were the original twelve and Paul), or to have been an eyewitness of Christ and His ministry, death, and resurrection.  Paul, while not having been among Jesus’ followers during His earthly ministry, and so, not an eyewitness to the resurrection itself (cf. Acts 1:20-22), was nonetheless chosen by Christ and an eyewitness to His resurrected self (cf. Acts 9:4-6).
    Additionally, the Scriptures make reference to those apostles (of the churches) as being such, in contrast to its references to the Twelve (or any individual member of them), as “apostles of Christ” or simply, “the apostles”, it being understood by the context, that it was [one or more of] the twelve [original] apostles who was (were) the subject.
    Adapted from Note (ms) 2nd Corinthians 5-2007C pp. 13-14.
  2. Galatians 3:16 The Use of Language
    Note Paul’s specific reference to how language is used:  “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,”[a]who is Christ.” (NKJV)
    God reveals Himself using human language that is made up of words which have specific meanings in specific contexts.  God’s revelation must be interpreted according to the rules of that language.  One cannot reasonably interpret Scripture by defining words as one wishes, regardless of their actual definitions and usages (such as W.M. Branham does in his message, Why I Am Against Organized Religion.  See topical note: A Critique of W.M. Branham’s Message…).
    Paul demonstrated that here; by giving the meaning/definition of the words used, according to the rules of grammar of the language used.
    Adapted from Note (ms) Galatians 6-2005C, pp.5-6.
  3. Romans 11:26 When All Means─ Something Else?
    There is an old saying that goes, “ “All” means “all”, and that’s all, “all” means.” ; and is often used to prove that all mankind will be saved because of the many uses of the word “all” in connection with passages speaking of God’s offer of salvation being available to “all men” (cf. Romans 5:18 and note to same. (Footnote 9).)  That something is available to all men is not the same as saying all men will take advantage of, or benefit from it.  Be that as it may, that is not the case here.
    In this case, we have a situation where “all” does not necessarily mean “all”, at least not in the universal sense.  Will “[A]ll Israel” be saved in the end?  Yes, absolutely.  If God says something will happen, it will happen.  But, does that mean that Jew can be, will be saved without acknowledging Christ as Lord and Savior?  No.  He who has the Son has life.  He who does not have the Son does not have life, but rather, is condemned. (cf. John 3:18).  So, what does Paul mean by this when he writes, “all Israel will be saved”?  “All Israel” is a reference to the elect Jews, those who God chose before the foundation of the world; just as He did us.  Those who are children of God because they are “children of the promise: (cf. Romans 9:6-9 and note to same (Footnote 10) ), those who are both physical and spiritual Israel.
    This ties in with the many references to the “remnant” of the Jewish peoplewho should be saved.  Not all physical Jews are true Jews, children of God; just as not all men are children of God.  In fact, Jesus Himself accused the Pharisees (who were, in the eyes of their fellow, after the flesh, Jews, what could be called “Jew’s Jews”.) of being sons of their father, the devil! Cf. John 8:44.  So, that being understood, the remnant spoken of in other places is in fact, what could be called “true Israel”, and as the “true Israel”, the chosen people of God, they will all be saved by faith in Christ.  They will, in God’s good time, have their hearts turned toward Christ, just as God has done with us.
  4. 1st Corinthians 12:4-7     The Profit of All
    As with v.12:1 preceding, verse 7 here contains two words in italics, “of all”, indicating that, in context, it is to be understood that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not just for individual profit [though they do profit the individual] but rather, for the profit of “the one body”, which body we are each individually part of.
    That the clarifying words “of all” are justified in context can be seen in verses 12-27 following.
    The gifts themselves are given individually (v.11 and note), but for the profit of all.
  5. Matthew 24:24 False Christ’s and Prophets
    False Christ’s and false prophets will show great signs and lying wonders.  Cf. 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10.
    Adapted from Notes (ms) Matthew 10-2008C, p.52.
  6. Hebrews 13:8                 The Same Unchanging God
    Formerly titled, Christ’s Unchanging Nature.
    “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (NKJV, italics in original).
    Just what is meant here by this declaration?  This is an important question.
    Many have used this passage to support the idea that the Church today should display the same level of miracles, healings, gifts [of the Spirit, a la 1st Corinthians 12],etc., as was seen/manifested, during the time of Christ’s earthly ministry and immediately following with the original Apostles, and as recorded in the Gospels, and the book of Acts.  These brethren cite the above verse and say that :Jesus Christ is the same…”, and since He healed everyone who came to Him on earth, then He must want to heal everyone now in this life and in this time.  These brethren go on to say that since Pentecost, the power of anointing that fell upon the Apostles and the early church, should be displayed in the same manner today because “Jesus Christ is the same…”  Is this a reasonable (let alone accurate) understanding of this verse in the context of the whole of Scripture?  I do not believe so.
    It must be admitted that on the surface, outside the context of the whole of Scripture, it would be easy to make the above assumptions.  But that ignores the whole of God’s revelation as given in the OT as well as the NT.
    What then does the author mean?  He means that Jesus Christ, in His nature as God, in His attributes as God, is unchanging (cf. Malachi 3:6).  As God, He does not change in His nature.  He is, and will always be Holy (cf. Revelation 4:8), Just, Righteous  (cf. Psalm 84:19); Longsuffering (cf. Exodus 34:6-7); Love (cf. 1st John 4:8, 16); Merciful (cf. Lamentations 3:22); Truth (cf. Psalm 117:2; John 14:6); etc.  In all these things and more, He changes not.
    What does this verse not mean?
    It does not mean that there is absolutely no change whatsoever with God.  God does, has changed the manner in which He deals with mankind.  Or, perhaps it would be better to say, the manner in which He has revealed Himself.  Yet, even then. The changes have only been variations on a theme, without any inherent changes in Himself.  Following are a couple of examples of how God has dealt differently with mankind.
    Hebrews 1:1-2 “God who at various [synonymous with different] times , and in various ways…”  God does do things I a different manner.  He changes the methodology of His dealings without changing His nature or purpose.
    Hebrews 2:9                   “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels…”  Jesus Christ changed!  He became a man! (cf. John 1:14 with John 1:1).  Now that is definitely a change!  Compare also, Philippians 4:6-7.
    Additionally, we have other evidence from Scripture of how God has dealt differently, not the same way, with mankind over the course of time.  One of the biggest argument in favor of this is the 430 years of silence from God between the last OT prophet, Malachi; and the advent of John the Baptist.  But that is not the only time.  See also, 1st Samuel 3:1, “…the word of God was rare in those days, there was no widespread revelation.” (NKJV, bold added for emphasis).  The greatest evidence for change in methodology is however the Old and New Testaments.  To hear modern “faith” teachers, and many Pentecostals as well, one would think that because there were many miracles and powerful signs and wonders during that very limited time of Christ’s first advent and the ministry of the Apostles, then things must  be the same now.  After all, “God doesn’t change”, they say.
    Adapted from Notes (ms): Hebrews 10:2008C, pp. 15-16.
  7. 1st Samuel 3:1                God Doesn’t Change, But Times Do
    “the word of God was rare in those days, there was no widespread revelation”.  (Emphasis mine).
    While God does not change, that is to say, what He is, His nature does not change.  However, how He deals with mankind does and has changed over time.  This is but one example, “the word of God was rare…there was no widespread revelation”.
    There was a similar dry spell so to speak, between the time of the completion of the Old Testament canon ca. 430 B.C., until the coming of John the Baptist and the early church.   In that time, there was no revelation period!
    The entire Bible, Old and New Testaments, is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to mankind.  Revelation made in two ways: spoken and demonstrated.
    While it is true that there are many things God has done and/or said that have not been recorded.  That is because those things add nothing new to what has already been revealed. Cf.  John 21:25.
    With the completion of the New Testament, God is no longer making or giving any “new” revelations of Himself.  Rather, what He does do, through the Holy Spirit, is give illumination, understanding of that which has been revealed.  All we need, all we can know is already written down for us, cf. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17.
    Adapted from Notes (ms): 1st Samuel 5-2005C, p. 2.
  8. Romans 5:18                  Universality─ NOT!
    This is one of the passages used to attempt to prove that in the end, all will be saved, even those who die without Christ.  However, if this passage is taken in the full context of the chapter and especially, verses 16, 17, 19; it becomes evident that universal salvation is Not being proclaimed.
    What then does Paul mean when he compares the condemnation that all mankind has come under because of Adam’s sin (v. 12) and the free gift which comes “to all men”?  It is as follows:
    All men are descended from Adam, and thus inherit his sin nature (cf. 1st Corinthians 15:21-22).  Yet, only those who receive the “gift of righteousness” in Christ Jesus, receive the resulting “justification of life”.  So, while the free gift does come to all men, in the sense of availability. Not all men do receive it.
    Adapted from Notes (ms) Romans 4-2006C, p. 9.
  9. 10.    Romans 9:6-9                 Biological vs. Spiritual
    “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel…”
    This statement by Paul, negating mere physical descent as a factor in salvation, parallels what God revealed through Moses, in Genesis 24:36 in which, Isaac, as the child of the promise (cf. Genesis 18:10) is the one who inherits all that Abraham had.  Likewise, it is the spiritual children of God, those who God has chosen, who will inherit eternal life.
    Adapted from Notes (ms) Romans 4-2006C, p.18

About This Blog and Myself

My name is Michael Fernandez.  I was born to a single mother in Germany and named Michael Grieß.  My father, a U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant married my mother and adopted me in 1960.  That was the same year I came to the United States.

I grew up in several states, moving as my father was transferred from base to base.  I learned English in Charleston S.C., and never really lost that Southern accent.

I served without any real distinction in the United States Marine Corps from 1975-78.  I was honorably discharged and years later received a service connected disability rating for tinnitus. So now I am a Lifetime member of the DAV.

I’ve been married twice and divorced twice.  Both times my fault.  Oh I don’t say either of my wives were “perfect” because no one is.  But 90+% of the fault lies with me.  I say this to my own shame.

I am a born-again by the sovereign grace of God Christian.  Which is to say, I am not perfect, but I am different from what I was.  My being a Christian in no way makes me, myself, any better than anyone else.  My salvation, as that of anyone truly saved by God, did not, does not stem from anything in me, but solely is an undeserved gift of God.  Why He chose me in particular, I still don’t know.  But that is what brings us to this blog.

I served almost 15 years in prison during which time God opened my eyes to His Grace and Mercy, and opened my heart to His Love.  By God’s grace I have been blessed with an inquisitive, studious nature and used those years as a devoted period of study.  6-1/2 of those years were because of His Word and the conflict that arose from a Probation Officer who insisted I participate in Psychological (Or as I have learned to refer to it, “Psycho-heretical”) treatment programs.  These programs all deny the truth of God’s Word in numerous ways, but  it was in one key element that my problems with Court/P.O., imposed therapy led to re-incarceration.

God’s Word teaches that IF – and for only two little letters, “if” is a mighty powerful word as everything that follows, hangs or depends upon it – if anyone is “in” (another powerhouse word) Christ, he/she is a “new creation.”  That mean if you were a drunkard (I refuse to use the term “alcoholic”), a drug, porn, sex, or whatever addict, a violent person, a natural adulterer, or any other habitual type of sinner, you are no longer that what you were before you were saved.  Again, this is not to say you have suddenly become “perfect” and turned into some kind of “super saint” but you will be different, not what you were.  All secular humanistic, evolutionary psychological therapies have this in common.  They deny the truth of this Scripture passage:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ” (2Co 5:17 NKJ)

It was here that my conflict with the Probation department began, resulting in the revocation of my probation and re-incarceration.  They say, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” or “Once a drug, wife, child, ______(fill in the blank) abuser, always a(n) __________ abuser.”  And I refused to own that.  I freely admitted my offenses, my crimes, my sins and my sole responsibility, but I refused to say I was still that person.  Either God’s Word is true and I AM a new creation in Christ or His Word or I am a liar.  I know what I was before Christ came into my life and I know what I am since, the difference is like that between night and day.  So, either God is a liar or the psychobabblers are. Because I refused to admit that which was false, I was discharged from two different groups (therapy groups), the second discharge resulting in the revocation of my probation for violating the terms of my probation by not being in group.  I said, fine.  I would rather be in prison with Christ, than out of prison denying Him.

Nearly 15 years of intense Bible Study, and 6-1/2 years of intense study coupled with diligent note taking.  When I left prison I had over 1,000 pages of cross referenced manuscript notes on every book of the Bible as well as several topical studies.

God is real folks.  Heaven and hell are real.  I was once headed for hell but by God’s Sovereign Grace, I am no longer.  Not only has my earthly life been changed for the better, I now possess eternal life in Christ, my sins forgiven and their dominion over me broken.

It is my hope that this blog which will be in part a revelation of myself, a sinner saved by God’s Grace via the publication of my notes as they are transcribed, will be used of God to touch someone out there on the web. To give a fitting word to someone in need, as God did for me with a Mexican national who came to jail while I was there contemplating suicide and as he shared the Gospel in Spanish with another Mexican some 15 feet or so away, I heard every word as if it were being spoken to me.  I knew then that God was speaking to me.  Anyway, I hope that the insights, the hope, the knowledge that I have gained through my walk with God and the study of His Word over those years will impact the life of some of you out there in a positive way perhaps used by Him to bring you to salvation, or to strengthen or restore the faith of someone who has momentarily lost or had their faith weakened for whatever reason because you see that I, even I, imperfect as I may still be, can be transformed by the Love and Grace of God. And if I can be changed by God, anyone can be.

I pray that God would use these writings for your good and most of all, for His glory.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

LEGAL NOTICE:All material in these blogs is original material of Michael Fernandez unless otherwise noted.  No copying of the material in these blogs is allowed without permission, unless, it is for the individual’s personal use and/or for use in matarial that will be distributed at no cost to another.  Any material copied and reposted or otherwise reproduced must included an acknowledgment of myself as the author (as well as any other accredited authors included in the material)

A Brief Study on the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God

A Brief Study on the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God

Introduction

The following study began this 26 day of January; in the Year of Our Lord 2014 is a revision of an incomplete manuscript on the subject from September 2008 which manuscript was based on a previously completed study of the same name dating back to 2004. This study will expand on the original, including studies on the biblical teaching that there is only one true God; the names of God; and the Deity of the Three Persons of the Godhead – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God is one of the basic or fundamental doctrines of the Christian Church and Faith.  It has been so since the early years of the Church.  The doctrine, in essence, is based upon the Scriptural teaching listed above and is to be understood as follows: There is only One True God in essence or being, Who, without division of essence or being, none-the-less exists in Three Distinct Persons; those of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These Three Persons constituting One Eternal God.  This doctrine is one of the most often attacked by non-Christian religions and pseudo-Christian cults.  This has been so, since the beginning.

While the term “trinity” itself is not found in the Scriptures, this is in itself no argument against the doctrine.  The terms “omniscient” [all-knowing], and “omnipresent” [present everywhere] are not in the Scriptures either but few would argue that God was not omniscient or omnipresent as these attributes of God, while not so named are taught in Scripture.  Consider, for example, Isaiah 40:13-14 [1] asking who has been the Lord’s counselor or teacher?  Romans 11:34 same question.  1st John 3:20 “God…knows all things” (ellipsis and italics added for emphasis), or Psalm 139:7-9 “ Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?…”  (ellipsis added).  The answer, of course, is “nowhere” because God is already there.  Thus, while arguing against the doctrine because of the absence of a descriptive or defining term is itself a false argument, being based on a logical fallacy (The Argument from Silence) which does not, in fact, prove anything.  That the argument from silence proves nothing in the case of whether a doctrine is or is not taught in Scripture is evident from the two examples of the terms “omniscience” and “omnipresence.”  Just for the sake of a complete understanding of this concept; the word “omnipotent” [meaning “all potent” or “all powerful”] is the only word actually found in Scripture, of the three, commonly used terms with the prefix “omni” meaning “all” that are commonly used to describe God.  It is from the Greek term found in Revelation 19:6, παντοκράτωρ (Strong’s#G3841) [2] pantokrator or “all-mighty.”  It is, therefore, necessary to examine the unified teachings of Scripture to see who, what, and how God is presented in the aggregate.  I believe that a faithful examination of the evidence of Scripture will demonstrate that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is indeed the Triune God of the Historic Christian Church.

I       Historical Background

Origins and Early Use of the term “Trinity.”

The term “trinity” is first found in a letter by one of the early Church Fathers.  Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, in writing to Autolycus, refers to the Lord using the term “trinity” to describe the tri-unity of the Godhead in refuting pagan and Jewish criticisms that Christians were worshiping three gods as opposed to One God in Three Persons.  This letter dates to around 178 A.D. (Long before the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine and/or the “Roman Catholic Church” hereafter “R.C.” or “R.C. Church”).

Four other ante-Nicene Counsel references are still in existence today.  One, “Against Praxeus” a letter by Tertullian another Church Father, was written in the early 200’s A.D.  The others are from Novatian, Clement of Alexander, and Origen; all three of whom lived and wrote in the 3rd Century [200’s] A.D., long before the first of the Nicene Counsels held beginning in 325 A.D. and so cannot be attributed to the R.C. Church.

The Need for a Unified Doctrinal Expression

To understand the need for the early church to formulate the doctrine of the trinity (note: “formulate”- give form to, not “invent”) is due to the situation facing the early church and the nature of the writings of Scripture.

For whatever reasons He had, the Lord, in His revelation of Himself and His plan, did not cause the Scriptures to be written in a way as to provide us a textbook on Systematic Theology.  The Bible is not divided into chapters/verses based on specific topics, e.g., Purity, see chapter 21;. The Organization of Angelic Hosts, see chapter 100, baptism, see chapter 75, The Father as God, see chapter 1, etc., etc., etc.  Rather, the Bible presents an unfolding revelation, over a period of time (some 1400-1500 years).  The closest the Bible comes to presenting any systematic doctrinal teachings are a couple of the Psalms e.g., 119 on the Word of God itself, and the Pauline epistles which were written in large part to address specific problems, both in practice and doctrine, which were already beginning to surface in the first decade of the Church’s existence.  The most serious of those early doctrinal errors (and a precursor to the present study) being a denial of Christ’s humanity, deity, and bodily resurrection, and the problems of the Judaizers and Antinomians both.  Additionally, there was the misunderstanding of such matters as justification, sanctification, and Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross. These and others are all issues that were already cropping up in the early church and were addressed as needed.

Not every possible heresy rose up during the time of the Apostles for them to address directly. However, God, in His wisdom and foreknowledge, had inspired all that would be necessary to answer them to be written in advance.  One of those heresies involved the nature of God.

Monotheism in Early Jewish Religion

1)     The necessity of a strong monotheistic emphasis in God’s early revelations.

Although the Lord was known by mankind prior to His causing the Scriptures to be written; mankind, even His own chosen people, Israel [3] did not have a complete revelation of God, His nature, or His plans.  Thus, when He began the work of forming His people Israel by first delivering them out of Egypt, it was necessary to instruct them as to WHO was this God of their Fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and what He wanted from them.

It must be understood that at the time God began both His work of deliverance and revelation, the Children of Israel had been in Egypt, a nation with many gods, for over 400 years. Furthermore, they were to be taken to a land, Canaan, that was itself filled with different peoples all having multitudes of gods.  Even the people of the deliverer’s own father-in-law Jethro of Midian, while recognizing the Lord, viewed Him as but one god among many.  Thus the Lord had to break His chosen people of their mistaken idea that there were, in fact, other “gods” in existence besides the Lord God.  And, having been indoctrinated for so long in polytheism, any attempt to directly teach the triune nature of the Godhead would surely be interpreted as nothing but “polytheism.”  (As it happened, 1500 years later, the Jews and the pagans of the 1st 3 centuries of the Christian era, and even till now cried out and still cry out, “3 gods! You worship 3 gods!”  They just don’t understand).  It was for this purpose then, to instill in the beginning of His revelation of Himself and our relationship with Him in Christ, a firm, and inflexible monotheistic faith. That His chosen people again, and again, and again reverted to idolatry and the worship of many gods besides the Lord is a testimony to man’s natural sinfulness and rebellion and to the depth of God’s graciousness and mercy.  That time and again, He would chasten His people but did not destroy them as they rightfully deserved (or as we ourselves so rightfully deserve today).  Their rebellious worship of the gods of the nations around them is not, nor, can be used as an argument that the doctrine of the Triune nature of the Godhead is itself pagan or polytheistic in origin.

2)     Hints of Plurality Within the Godhead.

In spite of the need to break His people away from their polytheistic leanings, to monotheism, God did give hints or indications of a plurality within the Godhead, beginning at the very beginning.  In the very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, it says, “In the beginning, God created….” (ellipsis added).  “God” here is the Hebrew term אלהים  [4], elohiym, a plural noun used in singular construction.  The Shema, or great profession of faith of the Hebrew people also bears subtle witness to this plurality in unity.

“4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deu 6:4 NKJV)

“4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [יהוה YHWH, Strong’s #3068, a/k/a Yahweh, Jehovah, singular personal name of God, cf. Exodus 3:14-15]  our God, [אלהינו elohiym, plural noun, lit. “gods”]  the LORD [יהוה YHWH, singular personal name of God ] is one!” (Deu 6:4 NKJV)

Notice the application or tying together of the singular personal name of God YHWH with a plural noun “elohiym”.  So, it can be seen that even while emphasizing the singularity in number or quantity of God, already there are subtle indications of a plurality within the Godhead.

Another point of interest in the Shema, related to the concept of plurality in unity is the term used to state that there is but “one” God.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!”  The Hebrew word chosen by GOD, 2000 years before Emperor Constantine and the first “Pope” of Rome, the word chosen was Strong’s H259 “echad” אחד ׃  a form of the word “one” that has a primary meaning of place or uniqueness and not numerical quantity.  This can be seen in that there are numerous places where the term “echad” “one” is used and does not refer to a one in a strictly numerical sense.  For example, Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one [echad] flesh.” Another is Numbers 13:23, “Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one [cluster] cluster of grapes;…”  These are but two examples of plurality in unity, plurality within the singular.

Consider also those passages such as Genesis 3:9; 24:7; Exodus 3:15 to mention but three of many such passages that connect “the Lord,” Yahweh, Jehovah, with the plural noun Elohim (lit. gods), to read, literally the “Lord gods,” or “YHWH gods.”  Or, the many instances of “I am the Lord your God;” again, literally, “I am the Lord your gods,” “I am Yahweh your gods.”  Cf. Leviticus 18:4,30; 19:2, 3, 4, 25, 31 and so on.  In these passages you have both the personal, singular pronoun, “I” plus the singular personal name of God “YHWH” and the plural noun Elohim all connected together in one descriptor of God!

The word Elohim, is found 2606 times in the Hebrew manuscripts; the manuscripts upon which the King James (and New King James) Version of the Bible is based.  Of those 2606 times, 2346 of them it is found in reference to God; 244 times to other gods, 5 times to judges, and less than 10 times in other manners: angels, goddess, mighty, etc.

II Only One God

What are the attributes of Deity?

There are many attributes of being that are found in the Scriptures as applying to God.  However, for the purposes of this study and in the interest in brevity, only a few key attributes will be considered.

Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Omnipotence, are of course the three main and best-known attributes of Deity that apply to the God of the Bible.

Additionally, there are: Eternal; Personal – that is, having the attributes of personhood, will, intellect, emotion, as contrasted with impersonal or some mere “force” or “power of nature/the universe” – Life – is alive, self-conscious.  These are some of the natural attributes of the God of the Bible other than the one now being considered – Unique, Only, One.  These few attributes of Deity are also the ones that will be used later in demonstrating the Deity of Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Scriptural Passages Declaring Only One True God Exists

Following are but a few of the many declarations of Scripture that there is only One True God.

Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; 11:16; 13:1-8; 32:39

1st Kings 8:60

Psalms 18:31; 86:10; 96:4-5

Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6; 45:5-6

Jeremiah 10:6-7

1st Corinthians 10:6-7

There are many other such declarations that are not listed here. If one accepts that the Scriptures do not contradict themselves in any teaching (doctrine), then the above clear declarations are sufficient.  If one does not believe the Scriptures do not contradict themselves in any doctrine, then no amount of citations will make a difference.  Thus, for the sincere reader/inquirer, the above passages are sufficient to demonstrate the point that there is only One True God.  Of practical significance, if there is only One True God, then by default, any other god is a false god.

In the next two parts, I will attempt to demonstrate both biblically and logically how in addition to the Person of the Father, against whose Deity I would hope there is no argument, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit also share the same attributes of Deity as the Father.  That being done, we are left with the matter of do we, as Christians worship three distinct gods, or One God in three distinct Persons.

As no Christian that I know of debates the matter of the Father’s Deity, at this time, rather than spend hours presenting the evidence for the Deity of God the Father, I will move straight on to the Deity of the Christ.

III The Deity of Christ

Background

From the beginning of His ministry on earth, the Jews, at least, recognized Jesus’ claims to Deity. Oh He did not claim to be God directly by saying, “Listen up people, I am God,” but in many other ways, He did claim for Himself the attributes, names/titles, and perquisites that belong only to God.  It is in those ways that the Jews of His day recognized, even while rejecting, His claims to Deity.

Names of God/Christ

Below is a table that can be found in the book “The Oneness of God”<a>[5]</a>:

Name/Title of God                         Scripture           Name/Title of Christ                 Scripture

Almighty                                      Gen. 17:1                Almighty                                      Rev. 1:8

I Am                                           Exo. 3:14-16            I Am                                           John 8:58

Rock                                          Psa. 18:2; 28:1         Rock                                           1st Cor. 10:4

Horn of Salvation                         Psa. 18:2                Horn of Salvation                           Luk. 1:69

Shepard                             Psa. 23:1; Isa. 40:10-11    Good Shepard;

Great Shepard;

Chief Shepherd         Joh. 10:11; Heb. 13:20; 1st Pet. 5:4

King of Glory                              Psa. 24:7-10             Lord of Glory                                  1st Cor. 2:8

Light                                   Psa. 27:1; Isa. 60:19        Light                                              Joh. 1;4-9

Salvation                             Psa. 27:1: Isa. 12:2         Only Salvation                                 Acts 4:10-12

Lord of Lords                              Psa. 136:3                Lord of Lords                                   Rev. 19:16

Holy One                                    Isa. 12:6                  Holy One                                         Acts 2:27

Lawgiver                                     Isa. 33:22               Testator of 1st Testament (the Law)    Heb. 9:14-17

First & Last                         Isa. 41:4; 44:6: 48:12       First & Last/Alpha & Omega

Beginning & End                               Rev.1:8; Rev.22:13

Just God                                     Isa. 45:21               Just One                                           Acts 7:52

Only Savior                 Isa. 43:11; 45:31; 60:16           Savior                                              Tit. 2:13; 3:6

Redeemer                                Isa. 54:5: 60:16          Redeemer                                        Gal. 3:13: Rev. 5:9

Only Creator                Isa. 44:24; 45:8; 48:13            Creator of Everything         Joh. 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:10

King of Israel                               Isa. 44:6                King of Israel, King of Kings            Joh. 1:49; Rev. 19:16

Giver of Spiritual Water              Isa. 44:3; 55:1           Giver of Living Water                     Joh. 4:10-14; 7:38-39

From the above listing of names/titles given to God in the Old Testament and comparing with the names/titles given to Christ in the New Testament; it is evident that Christ IS GOD!

Additional Passages Attributing Deity to Christ

Note: In the following, unless otherwise stated, I have added “…” ellipsis and/or parenthesis/brackets for the sake of brevity, emphasis, or explanatory purposes.

Hebrews

1:10

[God the Father, Yahweh is still speaking in reference to the Son, Jesus] “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth…”

·        The Father [God] is acknowledging here, the presence of His Son Jesus “in the beginning” as well as His, Jesus’ co-participation in the creation of the universe and all (angels included) it contains.  See also John 1:1-3 and note (footnotes)<a>[6]</a> and Colossians 1:17

Hebrews

1:11-12

Referring to the eternal nature of the Son, that is, unlike the angels and other created beings, He is, as the Father, Eternal God, without beginning or end.

Hebrews

1:8

“But to the Son [referring to Jesus, see vv.1-7] He says, [God is still the speaker] “Your throne O God, is forever and ever…”.”

·        Here God [the Father] is addressing God [the Son].

·        Also, that His [Jesus’] throne is forever and ever speaks of Jesus’ eternal existence- eternal being another attribute of Deity.

Hebrews

1:13

“But to which of the angels has He [the Father] ever said:”

·        Here and in v. 1:5, where God the Father refers to Jesus as His Son, God asks, “to which of the angels” did I ever say these things.  The answer, ‘None!’

·        Jesus is not, as some pseudo-Christian cults and gnostics try to say, the Archangel Michael.  Never did the Father, Yahweh, ever refer to an angel as His Son nor offer one the seat of honor.

Isaiah

8:13-15

“The Lord of hosts…will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.”

·        Note that Isaiah refers to the Lord of hosts [God] in terms of “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,” the same terms that Paul would use referring to Christ in Romans 9:33.  Compare also Peter’s words in 1st Peter 2:1-8

Isaiah

43:11

God says He is the only Savior.  Jesus is Savior, ergo, Jesus is God.

John

1: 1-3

Christ’s existence in eternity past is shown in these three verses.  Note the following points.

·        He [Jesus, the Word] was already in existence in the beginning [of time], “In the beginning was the Word.”

·        He was with God demonstrates His existence as a separate distinct “person” from God [the Father], “and the Word was with God.”

·        He [Jesus, the Word]  was God.   “and the Word was God.”

There are those who would deny the accuracy of this translation as they deny the Deity of Christ.  Among such the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the most prominent having created their own [mis]-translation of the Scriptures which reads, “the word was a god.”

The problem with the J.W. translation is this.  The Scriptures, and that includes the J.W.’s own translation, teach that there is only One God in number.  If then, there is only One True God and the Scriptures teach that all other “gods” are “false gods,” and if the “word” was “a god” then by their own words, the J.W.’s relegate Jesus to the status of a false god!  Jesus is either God the Son, distinct in Person from the Father and yet, still the One God in “essence” or He is not any god at all.  See 1st Timothy 3:16<a>[7]</a>.

·        Jesus’ pre-incarnate existence with God is reaffirmed in v.2, “He was in the beginning with God.

·        All that exists, Angels, the Universe, heaven, was made by Him [Jesus the Word].  Cf. Colossians 1:16.

·        Here and in Colossians, it is clearly pointed out that Jesus made everything that exists.  “All things were made through Him and without Him nothing was made that was made” (v.3).  This includes angels and so, shoots down any Christology that teaches that Jesus was an angel (much less the Archangel Michael, as per the J.W.s) prior to His incarnation (i.e., birth as the God/Man).

John

1:14

God [Jesus, the Word] becomes a man – Immanuel “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23, cf. Isaiah 7:14.

John

20:28

·        The disciple Thomas declares Jesus to be his Lord AND his GOD!  If Jesus were not God, Jesus would have had to correct Thomas’s error as being blasphemous.  Jesus did no such thing.  On the contrary, He let Thomas’s confession stand as it was true.

John

8:58

“Before Abraham was I AM”

·        Jesus here uses the Covenant Name of GOD given by the Father to Moses.  Cf. Exodus 3:14

·        The Greek expression used here is exactly that found in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Old Testament.  The Septuagint being a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures made 200 years before Christ’s advent.  So NO, you can’t blame the Greek mystery religions or the RC Church for this as it predates them both.

Jude

25

“To God our Savior,”

·        Again, refer to the table of names/titles, there is only One Savior and that one Savior is referred to as God in the Old Testament and Jesus in the New.

Mark

2:1-12

·        Jesus takes upon Himself, the “right to forgive” the sins of others, something which belongs to God alone (v.7).  Either Jesus was God, or the Pharisees had it right when they accused Him of blasphemy.

·        See also Luke 5:20-21; 7:47-49.

Matthew

2:11

·        The Wise Men “worshiped” Jesus.

·        Worship is something that is reserved for God alone!  Exodus 20:1-5; Deuteronomy 5:6-9.  Yet, the wise men, “worshiped” Jesus!

·        Jesus Himself accepted worship from others, an act that violates the 1st and 2nd Commandments IF, in fact, He were not God Himself.  SeeMatthew 14:33; 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52.

·        Related to this, note that angels are not to be worshiped.  Cf. Revelation 22:8-9, this angel is not the Alpha and Omega!  Jesus is not, nor ever was any mere “angel.”

Peter 2nd

1:1

“the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.”

·        Here again, Jesus Christ is named as “God and Savior”!

Philippians

2:5- 9

“Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.”

Revelation

1:8-18

V.13 “the First and the Last.”

V.13 The One speaking to John – “the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last,”

V.17 “He who lives, and was dead and behold I am alive forevermore” this One, is identified as “One like the Son of Man” (another Messianic Title that Jesus frequently applied to Himself).

·        The LORD God says in Isaiah – “I, the LORD am the first…” cf. Isa. 41:4

Revelation

22:6,16

·        Jesus claims the “angels of God” as His own angels.  Compare from John 1:51; Genesis 28:12; Exodus 23:33; Psalm 91:1 (all showing that the angels are “God’s” angels) and 2nd Thessalonians 1:7; Matthew 24:30-31.

Romans

9:5

“Christ…who is overall the eternally blessed God. Amen.”

·        Here is a direct statement regarding the Deity of Christ!

Timothy 1st

3:16

That Jesus was God [the Son] is clearly taught here as being a great mystery.  Which it is, even now.

·        “And without controversy [i.e., no doubt about it] great is the mystery of godliness”  It is something that we, with our finite minds are incapable of fully understanding or being able to explain the “how” of it.

·        “God was manifested in the flesh”  How much clearer can it be put?  Jesus, who is also called Immanuel (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23) “became flesh and dwelt among us” cf. John 1:14.  So, in effect, we can clearly see here that God and Jesus are interchangeable in this statement.  God is Jesus, Jesus is God.  But, it is NOT saying that Jesus is the Father, or that the Father is Jesus.  He, Jesus, [God the Son] is the Son of God [the Father].

Titus

2:13

“looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

·        Here Jesus is referred to as BOTH GOD and SAVIOR.

As can be seen from the preceding review of what Scripture says and the ‘logical consequences’ of what Scripture reaffirms as true in reference to God; Scripture clearly announces the following:

1.     There is ONLY ONE TRUE GOD in Number.

2.     The OT And NT Scriptures use interchangeable names and titles for both God the Father and His Only Begotten Son Jesus.  Such usage strongly implies that the Son is therefore at the least a God equal to the Father, but as #1 limits the number of Deities to One, Jesus cannot be “a God” equal to the Father, but must then somehow share the Deity of the Godhead, as both the OT and NT names/titles are the same.

3.     The OT Revelation of God, the beginning of God’s revelation contains indications of a “Plurality in Unity” existing within the Godhead.  While not limiting that plurality to 3, there are only three distinct entities, persons who share that Unity, the Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.

4.     In the New Testament; we find not only references to Jesus using the same name/titles attributed to God the Father, but also find that Jesus shares the same immutable attributes; that He claims for His own the rights, privileges, and property of God, up to and including the receipt of worship, something that would be most blasphemous were He not God in His own right.

5.     We also find in the New Testament several statements made by the Apostles through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,that directly claim that Jesus is God.

IV Person-hood and Deity of the Holy Spirit

Introduction

The Christian doctrine of the trinity or tri-unity of God teaches that the Holy Spirit is the third person in the Godhead.  Certain gnostic cults and pseudo-Christian cults claim that the Holy Spirit is merely the “force” or “power” of God and not a “person” in His own right.  They argue that the Hebrew term “ruagh” Greek term “pnuema” both translated variously as “breath,” “wind,” or “spirit” teach that the Spirit is not a distinct, thinking person.  The following Scriptures will, I believe, dispel the error of that thinking.

The Person-hood of the Holy Spirit

1.     To demonstrate the Deity of the Holy Spirit, it is first necessary to show that the Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of a person, that is possesses person-hood.  The following passages address this issue.

Throughout the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is referred to by the “personal pronouns” ”He,” “His,” and “Who” which pronouns generally apply to persons, rather than the impersonal pronoun “it.”  Consider the following passages for examples of this usage.  John 14:16, “that He may abide” referring to the Helper, the Holy Spirit; John 14:17, “neither sees Him nor knows Him, … know Him, …He dwells…” (ellipsis added for brevity and emphasis).  Note the use of “Him” and “He” not “it.”  Consider also:

John 14:26          He – not it.

John 16:7            Him – not it.

John 16:8            He, He – not it. not

John 16:13          He, the Spirit of truth, He, His, He,He, He – not it.

John 16:14          He, He–not it.

Jesus of all people, should know whether or not the Holy Spirit was a force or a person.  Jesus continually referred to the Spirit as a person and/or as doing things only a person could do.

Additional passages where the Spirit is referred to in terms of being a person, “He,” “Him,” “His,” “Who,” Romans 8:16, 26; 1stCorinthians 12:11.

While it should be noted that there are places in the Scripture where the impersonal or neuter form of the pronoun is used, that is determined by whether the antecedent noun is a neuter rather than masculine or feminine noun.  These passages, including both: verses where the pronoun used in reference to the Holy Spirit is the masculine, personal pronoun in the Greek, and those passages where the pronoun is the Greek indefinite but translated as a masculine personal pronoun, are included as an argument in favor of the Person-hood of the Spirit, but due to the somewhat subjective nature of translation work, it is only one argument, not “the” argument.  Additionally, there are times  when the best indicator of how the verb(s) in a sentence are being used  and how then to determine best how to translate the pronoun when the Greek/Hebrew form is indefinite is contextually.  That is, some times verbs and pronouns interpretation is contextually driven.  Also, where modern English, unlike the Indo-European/Romance languages, though not in 100% consistent manner, does not assign gender to nouns in correlation to any specific gender identity or relationship between the noun and any male/female qualities or lack thereof; many languages, particularly the Indo-European languages, including Greek, Latin, Spanish (which I read as well), a noun’s designation as masculine, feminine, or neuter is generally (though not strictly) based on whether it is related to those things or objects which are of a or related to a particular “gender”, i.e., male, female, indeterminate.  In all cases involving regular nouns and verbs, grammatically, a pronoun will agree in gender and number with its antecedent noun. We have, however, seen that when God caused Scripture to be written, He did not always follow the “rules of grammar” where He had something to say, but not outright.  Something that was to be there but reserved for the time that He would choose to reveal a hidden truth. That God hides things, often in plain sight, from the non-elect and/or the dilettante believer is a subject for another day.

2.     In addition to the many references to the Holy Spirit using personal pronouns indicating in that way, the “person-hood” of the Spirit, there are many passages which refer to the Holy Spirit engaging inactivities that only a sentient person can perform and not an impersonal force. (Please compare to the actual verses in your Bible.  I have added extra explanatory material in brackets, ellipsis, and/or italics and underlines for brevity and/or emphasis).  It is these passages together with those previously listed, that form the stronger argument for the Person-hood of the Spirit as these involve actions that are not subject to other interpretations, at least not justifiably so.

Genesis 6:3.  “My Spirit will not always strive with man…”  The verb “strive” indicates active, knowing opposition, an activity that only a person can engage in.

Nehemiah 9:20.  “You[referring to God] also gave them Your good Spirit to instruct them…”  The context here is that the Spirit would be their teacher, actively instructing them, rather than just an example to learn by.

Compare this with John 14:26 “He [the Spirit] will teach you all things”

1.     Note that the ability to teach requires knowledge, intelligence, qualities of personhood which are lacking in impersonal power or forces.

Acts 5:3.  “Ananias,… lie to the Holy Spirit”

2.     You can only lie to a person, not to a force or a power.  You cannot lie to the “wind” or“electricity.”  This demonstrates the attribute of intellect.

Acts 8:29.  “the Holy Spirit SAID to Philip” (CAPS, BOLD added for emphasis). “Said” (NKJV) his indicates verbal, intelligent communication on the part of the Holy Spirit, indicating then, the Holy Spirit’s possession of at least this one of the attributes of personhood.

Acts 13:2.  “the Holy Spirit SAID, “Now separate to ME Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I havecalled them.””  (SAID, and ME capitalized and bolded for emphasis).

•             In this verse we have the following evidences which support the doctrine of the Tri-Unity of God in relation to the Holy Spirit.

1.            Personhood – That very necessary quality that separates true deity from the idols of the world (cf. Psalms 115:3-8; 135:15-18 and notes to same), That the Holy Spirit is a living, personal Being is shown by the fact of His communicating verbally, an intelligent message “…the Holy Spirit said,”Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have calledthem.””

 3 But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases.
4 Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
5 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
6 They have ears, but they do not hear; Noses they have, but they do not smell;
7 They have hands, but they do not handle; Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.
8 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them. (Psa 115:3-8 NKJV)
NOTES TO Psalm 115:3-8

●             “Our God…does whatever He pleases” (italics, ellipsis, added for emphasis).

●             We know from other passages that God is omnipotent (cf. Genesis 17:1, “Almighty God”. “ שַׁדַּי ,” Shadday, Strong’s # 7706); Revelation 19:6, “the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth” (KJV, “ παντοκράτωρ, Pantokrator, Strong’s # 3841).  This omnipotence is a key aspect of his being that relates to His sovereignty.  He is able to sovereignly do whatever He pleases because He is omnipotent.’

●             See also note to Revelation 19:6.

Contrast: God/Idols

●             God is omnipotent and Sovereign; He does what He pleases.

●             Idols are impotent; they are blind, deaf, and dumb.

15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands.
16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see;
17 They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
(Psa 135:15-18 NKJV)

2.            Self-Awareness – That the Holy Spirit is a personal Being and not merely an impersonal force or power of God is found in His reference to Himself using the personal pronoun “Me.”  That this is not just a translator’s preference but the actual self-identification of the Holy Spirit is found in the fact that the original Greek reads, >>αφορισατε G873 V-AAM-2P  δη G1211 PRT μοι G1473 P-1DS

3.            Authority – That the Holy Spirit has authority over believers is shown in the call, ‘separate  [a command] such persons as I  have called.”

4.            Purpose of will – Though not stated here directly, it can be safely assumed that the “work to which” the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul was not contrary to the will, plans, and purposes of God the Father, either individually or for the Church.

Acts 16:6-7.  “…they were FORBIDDEN BY the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia.

7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit DID NOT PERMIT them…”  (Ellipsis added for brevity.  CAPS added for emphasis)

•             And once Again! The Holy Spirit commits acts that are possible only of an intelligent or sentient, personal being, and moreover, a personal, sentient Being having authority over the people of God.  Here again we see evidence for the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

•             The Apostles were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit…” Who,“did not permit” them to go on.

•             This demonstrates the personal attribute of “will.” An impersonal force or power may “prevent” someone from going somewhere or doing something but it cannot forbid them; gravity prevents people from being able to “fly” after jumping off the Empire State building, but gravity cannot “forbid” them from doing so.

Romans 8:9-11  In these verses both the Personhood and subsequently the Deity of the Holy Spirit are shown.

The Spirit is referred to as dwelling in the believer.  Dwelling in, being an activity that only a “living” being can perform, be it plant, animal, or some other living being.  I’m sure we can agree the Holy Spirit is not a rutabaga, a [Jiminy] Cricket, a Bambi, or a microbe, which leaves only a “Person.”  Non-living, inanimate objects/forces cannot “dwell” as to “dwell” implies life inherent in the dwellee.

The Spirit of God is identified as being both “of God” and“of Christ” (cf. v9).  Then Paul equates the Spirit’s presence with that of Christ’s (cf. v10) and God’s (cf. v11).

Romans 8:26.  “The Spirit Himself makes INTERCESSION…with GROANINGS

·       Again, the personal attributes of intelligence, communication, and strong emotion; “with groanings” indicating the intensity ofthat intercession being made.

Romans 8:27  “Now He who searches the hearts knows WHAT THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT IS, because HE MAKES INTERCESSION FOR the saints according to the will of God.” (Caps added for emphasis)

·       “knows what the MIND of the Spirit is” can be rephrased in today’s terms, “knows what’s on His mind.”  In any case, it is clear that the Spirit is recognized as having a mind of His own with His own thoughts in it.

·       “He makes intercession for” us.  Again, this is the act of a living, sentient Being.  HE INTERCEEDS for us before the Father.  An impersonal force cannot do this! Also, bear in mind God’s repetition of this intercession, God does not repeat Himself just because He likes the sound of His own voice. If/when God repeats Himself, we had better pay extra attention.

1st Corinthians2:10.  “the Sprit SEARCHES”  (Caps added for emphasis).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know of any impersonal force or power that engages in the willful, deliberate, intelligent act of “searching” for anything.

1st Coritnthians2:11.  “no one KNOWS the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

3.     Here again we have the attribute of intellect, the ability to “know” things.

And all this is but the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.  Throughout the Scriptures we see the Holy Spirit demonstrating in various ways, the attributes of Personhood: Intelligence, Will, Emotion, Self-Consciousness, Speech, i.e., intelligent communications.

Having, I believe, demonstrated beyond any reasonable or rational doubt that the Holy Spirit is in fact a Person in His own right; it is now time to address the issue of His Deity.  That is, is this “person” the Holy Spirit, a god, let alone the God of the Bible.

The Deity of the Holy Spirit

Throughout Scripture, there are passages that not only equate God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit as acting together but often in interchangeable terms/roles.  Along with those types of passages, there are other passages that straight out say that the Holy Spirit and God are one and the Same.

Now, once more, I wish to reiterate, the Christian/Biblical doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-unity of God is NOT the same as any pagan Triad of gods [plural].  Scripture is Clear:  There is only ONE (in number) GOD, yet that ONE GOD somehow exists in THREE Distinct Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, on to Scriptural support for the Deity of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 5:3-4.  “3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to LIE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?  4 … Youhave NOT LIED TO MEN BUT TO GOD.” (Ellipsis, Bold, and CAPS added).

Notice that Peter makes a direct statement that links lying to the [Person of] the Holy Spirit is lying to GOD, thus making the Holy Spirit equal to God.

Romans 8:9-10.  “9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Here Paul equates the Holy Spirit with being both, the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ.  Now, having previously established the Deity of Christ, this contains in effect a double affirmation of the Deity of the Holy Spirit.  If Christ is God [see preceding] and Christ is “the life” (cf. John 14:6) and the Spirit is “life”, then the Spirit of God, which is the same Spirit of Christ, is also God.

John 14:17-18.  Jesus identifies Himself with the Holy Spirit.  “But you know Him [at this point, they only knew Jesus] for He dwells with you [Jesus was dwelling with them] and will be [future] in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I [not someone else] will come to you [in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit]” (Bracketed material added as commentary)

Jesus said elsewhere, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (cf. Matthew 28:20).  Jesus was not speaking of His bodily presence, but being present in the form of the Holy Spirit Who, as God, is an aspect [so to speak] of Himself.

1st Corinthians12:1-29

Here Paul states that the gifts of God to the church are given by “the Spirit as He wills” (cf. v.11) and later, that “God has appointed” (v.28).  Now, if the Spirit is not merely the power or force of God but a person in His own right, then that person is also identified as alternately the Spirit and God.   Compare with Ephesians 4:7-12 where these same gifts are said to have been given by Christ!.  Now either Christ, the Spirit and the Father are all God, or someone is mistaken in who is giving all these gifts.

1st Chronicles28:9  “the LORD” searches the hearts of all people, cf. Psalm 139:23; Jeremiah 17:10.

Compare these with the New Testament; it is the Spirit who searches all things, 1st Corinthians2:10.

Again, the Spirit is equated with doing that which God is said to do elsewhere.

John 4:24.  Jesus says, “God is Spirit.”

1st Corinthians3:16   “16 Do you not know that you [here referring collectively to the Church] are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (Regarding “dwelling” see comments to Romans 8:9-10 preceding re: the Personhood of the Spirit) Here we have reference again to the “Spirit of God” dwelling in the believer. Compare here with 1st Corinthians 6:19 “19  Or do you not know that your body [here referring to each individual’s physical body] is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  Now here are two passages, speaking in the same context, i.e., what are the temple (both as a whole and as individual components) of God and where the Spirit of God/the Holy Spirit dwells in.  In one, the temple is the temple of God and the other the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:30.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Once again, we see the attribute of Personhood known as “emotion.” How can you “grieve” cause to feel grief, an impersonal; force?  A Power?  In a word, you cannot.

V – Summary

The doctrine of the Trinity or Tri-Unity of God is one of the essential doctrines of Christianity.  Personally I prefer to use the term “tri-unity of God,” as being more accurate.  That is, that there is  One God in number, quantity, who exists in three distinct Persons, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

The Person of the Father is not the Person of the Son.

The Person of the Son is not the Person of the Father nor the Person of the Holy Spirit.

The Person of the Holy Spirit is not the Persons of the Father or Son.

Yet,….. yet, they are all three the Very One and Same God.  How can this be?  That dear reader is the mystery.  You see, if God were fully explainable and quantifiable by our sciences and reason, then He would not be God.  He would just be something we created in the image of our world and its contents.  That is not to say that, in nature, there is nothing that is somewhat analogous to the Godhead.  There are many such “trinities” or pluralities in unity within nature.  Following are some examples.  Please remember however, any example from nature will fall short of the absolute truth of God.  That is something that comes from His revelation in Scripture, from Special Revelation, not General revelation as found in nature.

1.     An Egg.

a.     An egg consists of three parts; the shell, the yolk, and the albumen (white).  So, which is the egg?  Each is a part, yet the egg is the three.  Unlike God, when separated, the individual parts of an egg, no longer make “an” egg.

2.     Water.

a.     Water can exist in three distinct forms, liquid, solid (ice), and vapor (steam).  Which is water?  All three are water, although, unlike God, they can only exist in the same place, at the same time, in the same environment in but one form at a time.

3.     A Cluster of Grapes

a.     A cluster or bunch of grapes is a great example of plurality in unity.  One cluster being made up of many individual grapes.  Each grape being a part of the whole while distinct from every other grape in the whole.  Each grape sharing every grape’s fruity nature.

4.     Man.

a.     Man himself is one of the best indications of plurality in unity and how we reflect God’s nature.  We were “created” in the image of God after all.  But does that mean God is a creature who stands about “6’2” with a hand span of about 9” ” as says Kenneth Copeland?  No, of course not.  That is absurd on the face of it.  How then are we created in God’s image?  We are in God’s image in that we also are triune beings.  Yes, triune.

b.     Each of us is made up of  “Spirit,” “Soul,” and “Body.” We all possess, “Intellect,” “Emotion,” and “Will.”  These last  being key attributes of personhood are but reflections of God’s own attributes, though granted, on a lesser and fallen scale.

c.     The marriage union provides another example of a plurality (though not tri-unity) in unity.  When the man and woman marry, or have carnal knowledge, the two become “one.”  Now, are you going to say that God lies?  Because, I look at married couples all the time and what I see with my eyes is two people, granted they are “a” [singular] “couple” but they are physically two.  How can God say they are one?  Because they are joined spiritually, emotionally, and in sexual union, physically.

As stated above, any example from nature or conceived by or comprehensible by man’s finite mind, will fall short of the reality, the mystery that is our infinite God.  Let the words of the Apostle Paul suffice –

“16 And without controversy great is the mystery ofgodliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” 1st Timothy 3:16.

<a>[1]</a>

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9If  I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

(Psa 139:7-9 NKJV)

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him?

14 With whom did He take counsel ,and who instructed Him, And taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding?

(Isa 40:13-14 NKJV)

34 “For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?” (Rom 11:34 NKJV)

<a>[2]</a>STRONG’S ENTRY FOR G3841

παντοκράτωρ

pantokratōr

pan-tok-rat’-ore

From G3956 and G2904; the all ruling, that is, God (as absolute and universal sovereign): – Almighty, Omnipotent.

<a>[3]</a>God’s Chosen People Cf.  Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 17:19, 21; 28:10-15; 32:24-28

<a>[4]</a>STRONG’S #430, Literally “gods.”

<a>[5]</a>©2000 by David K. Bernard, Word A Flame Press, 8855 Dunn Road, Hazelwood MO63042-2299

<a>[6]</a>John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

(Joh 1:1-3 NKJV)

1:1

In the Beginning

“In the beginning…”  This goes back to Genesis 1:1.  Here, the Word [Jesus], was.  The Word was with God; the Word was God.

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:2 refers to the Spirit of God hovering over the waters.

John places Jesus “in the beginning” with God [the Father] and the Holy Spirit.

John clearly identifies Jesus as God.  But as God, the Son, not God the Father.

1:2

Jesus Not Created

Jesus was present at the beginning of all things, not all “other” things as some would say.

1:2-3

Prophecy Fulfilled

This is a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3 (8th century B.C.) and Malachi 3:1 (5th century B.C.).  Compare Matthew 3:3 and Luke 3:4.

1:3

Creator of ALL – God of ALL

Compare with the following:

Romans 11:36 – “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”

Colossians 1:16 – “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible,… All things were created through Him and for Him.”

Hebrews 1:1-2 – “God…by His Son…through whom also He made the world.”

·        The above New Testament passages, along with this verse in John all testify to the fact that Jesus is the Creator.

That Jesus is the Creator of all things means He is also the God of all things; as is also shown in verse 1 preceding and in the Old Testament as well.

·        Comparing Gen.1:1 and John 1:3 together, “In the beginning God created” and “All things were made through Him [Jesus], it is clear that at the least, we must acknowledge Jesus’ presence and activity alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning of Creation.  Now, we are presented with a logical IF/AND/THEN problem.  IF as Scripture clearly says that GOD created everything in the beginning, (it does) AND Scripture says that Jesus Created Everything in the Beginning (it does), THEN Jesus must be God.  Yet if not God the Father… then He must somehow be distinct from the Father. Plurality in Unity.

Compare Isaiah 45:5-18 which contain but a few of the many clear statements that Yahweh, the God of Israel is the Only God and Creator.  Again, as above, we are presented with an exercise in logic in the form of an If/Then or an If/And/Then statement.  Now, IF Scripture teaches that Yahweh, the GOD of Israel is the ONLY TRUE GOD AND CREATOR of all things (it does) AND If Scripture teaches that Jesus is THE CREATOR of all things (it does) THEN Jesus must be GOD.  Now, IF Scripture teaches that there is only ONE GOD in number (it does) THEN, Jesus as God [previously established] must in some way share Godhood with Yahweh or the Father because He cannot be a separate GOD in number.  That is, there cannot be 2 Gods.  Thus we have a plurality in unity.

<a>[7]</a> 16 And without controversy great is the mystery ofgodliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen byangels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up inglory. (1Ti 3:16 NKJV)