Institutes of the Christian Religion
Book One - Summary
Chapter 1: "The Knowledge of God the Creator."
Chapter 2: "What it is to know God, and to what purpose the knowledge of Him tends."
Chapter 3: "The Knowledge of God has been naturally implanted in the Minds of Men"
Chapter 4: "This Knowledge is either Smothered or Corrupted, partly by Ignorance, partly by Malice"
Chapter 5: "The Knowledge of God shines forth in the Fashioning of the Universe and the continuing Government of it."
Chapter 6: "Scripture is needed as Guide and Teacher for anyone who would come to God the Creator."
Chapter 7: "Scripture must be confirmed by the Witness of the Spirit. Thus may its Authority be established as certain; and it is a Wicked Falsehood that its Credibility depends on the Judgment of the Church."
Chapter 8: "So far as Human Reason goes, sufficiently firm proofs are at hand to establish the Credibility of Scripture"
Chapter 9: "Fanatics, abandoning Scripture and flying over to Revelation, cast down all the principles of Godliness"
Chapter 10: "Scripture, to correct all superstition, has set the True God alone over against all the gods of the Heathen"
Chapter 11: "It is unlawful to attribute a visible form to God, and generally whoever sets up idols revolts against the True God."
Chapter 12: "How God is to be so distinguished from idols that perfect honor may be given to Him alone.."
Chapter 13: "In Scripture, from the Creation onward, we are taught one essence of God, which contains Three Persons"
Chapter 14: "Even in the Creation of the universe and of all things, Scripture by unmistakable marks distinguishes the True God from false gods."
Chapter 15: "Discussion of human nature as created, of the faculties of the soul, of the image of God, of free will, and of the original integrity of manís nature.."
Chapter 16: "God by His power nourishes and maintains the world Created by Him, and rules its several parts by His providence."
Chapter 17: "How we may apply this doctrine to our greatest benefit."
Chapter 18: "God so uses the works of the ungodly, and so bends their minds to carry out his judgments, that He remains pure from every stain."
"The Knowledge of God the Creator."
1. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God.
A man who truly knows himself will discover his own lack, which causes the man to become discontent. Conversely, a man who does not know himself, will not discover his own lack and therefore be content in what he has. Furthermore, if man is content with himself he will not look outside himself for contentment. Conversely, if a man is discontent with himself he will tend look outside himself for contentment.
Calvin then goes on to say, that a content man will remain as he is, whilst a discontent man seeks God. Hence the knowledge of ourselves will bring about a discontentment which will cause us to seek contentment (and hence knowledge) in God.
Augustine once said, that God has made a hole in man, and man is discontent until it is filled by Him.
This idea, can be extended to a general principle, in that for a man to seek or to do something, he must first recognize his lack thereof. For what man would seek or do something if he is not convinced of his own lack. (Example: The preaching of sin before the preaching of repentance.)
2. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.
Man never truly knows himself as he is, unless he has as his basis of comparison God, since God is all in all. (1Co 15:28). Man, in his fallen nature, thinks of himself as righteous, never sees his unrighteousness, and is therefore content in that. So in being content with what we see in ourselves, we never compare those with Godís goodness. However when we have seen the Sun of righteousness (Mal 4:2), and then compare our righteousness with His, we see our lack thereof.
Thus, without a true knowledge of God we cannot truly know ourselves. This is not in contradiction with 1) above, for the order of events are as follows: we first examine ourselves, we see our lack, we become discontent, we seek God, we see God as He is, we then with that Reference can examine ourselves as we are.
It is difficult for a man (even a Christian) to see God as He is. God does not reveal Himself as he has in the past to some men. On the other hand woe is that man whom God has revealed Himself to! It is a fearful thing to see God as He is...
3. Man in Godís majesty.
The dread and fear when men (and men of God too) have seen God as He is. Examples are: Job, Isaiah (Isa 6:5), Abraham, and Jacob. In particular is to Job, when God allowed those severe calamities to fall on Job, (Job 1), and Godís discourse after it (Job 38-41).
Thus the first thing for a man to learn is the exceeding greatness of God. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. (Pro 9:10). That is, a man truly has understanding when he begins to fear God.
"What it is to know God, and to what purpose the knowledge of Him tends."
1. Piety is requisite for the knowledge of God.
True piety (and hence religion) is bred from a two-fold aspect of the knowledge of God. The first is that God not only has created this universe but also continually governs and sustains it. The second is that all Good (i.e. truth, wisdom, righteousness, etc.) come only from Him. That is, before God created anything, all the Good was in Him and no where else. Hence these virtues, which are evidenced in his creation, have their origin exclusively from Him.
An important concept to note is the following: Before anything was there was nothing, except God. Therefore He is the Truth of which every other thing gets its truth. Therefore, a man who searches for truth, should go to Him to find out what is truth and what is error.
2. Knowledge of God involves trust and reverence.
A manís understanding of the two-fold aspect of the knowledge of God written above, causes him to develop trust and reverence towards God. Trust in God, because He created and continually governs this universe, and that all Good comes from Him, and particularly towards those that are His. Reverence towards God, because He is Creator of all and hence man owes his life to Him.
Calvinís explanation of trust and reverence is in the context of a man who has the knowledge of God the Creator. This trust and reverence is further magnified and brought to maturity of a man who has the (divinely given) knowledge of God the Father, which is only possible by Christ the Mediator, and planted (born again) by God the Holy Spirit. (This second knowledge of God is dealt at length, in Book II, of Calvinís "Institutes of the Christian Religion.")
"The Knowledge of God has been naturally implanted in the Minds of Men"
1. The character of this natural endowment.
All men have been given a knowledge of God. This knowledge consists of that God exists, and is their Maker, whom worship is due. Even remote civilizations, which under obvious circumstances could have some probability of ignorance of God, show by their worship of idols (i.e. idolatry), of this internal knowledge of God. Even, modern man, with his sophistication and advances, through religion, pleasure seeking, materialism, hedonism, e.t.a.
Although man has this innate knowledge of God, it is corrupted and of itself cannot lead a man to a right relationship with God. (That is, this type of knowledge does not lead to a mans conversion.) The purpose of this innate knowledge is that God is just, and hence would not condemn man for unbelief in Him without man having something which certifies of His existence.
2. Religion is no arbitrary invention.
Religion could not have been invented by man for the purpose of controlling and holding large groups of people, unless, there had been this innate knowledge of man. Also, the men who conjecture this idea, are generally those who are outwardly the most hardened against belief in God, but inwardly are the most easily convicted by God who strikes their conscience more violently than others. Hence it is no wonder that some of them are most startled by the rustle of a falling leaf (Lev 26:36), not to mention the sound of thunder. (Psa 77:18)
For the first point, if this innate knowledge of God had not been implanted in man, (false) religion could not flourish. That is, one can plow, fertilize and water the ground, but unless the "seed" is there, no growth results (1Co 3:5-9). On the second point, regarding men who do not belief in God, how true it is of them, that when one speaks of religion, that these are the most vehement and ridiculing (as if convicted) of those who listen.
3.Actual godliness is impossible.
This innate knowledge, as mentioned before, does not lead man to a right relationship with God. For by experience, we see many who reject it, some who with a hot iron have seared this knowledge (1Ti 4:2), and yet a few who accept this innate knowledge and acknowledge God, but do not (as yet) know Him. (Jer 24:7; 31:34)
This innate knowledge, is not the knowledge as referred to in the Jeremiah passages (see above). The purpose of the innate knowledge, which is implanted in all men, is that no man can justify unbelief in God. Of course, this knowledge has been abused, in the many false religions which are based on it. The second type of knowledge (see Jeremiah passages), is that which is given only by the Holy Spirit, and only to whom He has chosen. Men with this second type of knowledge, are those who will eventually (i.e. in their lifetime) be lead into a right relationship with God. This is the knowledge of which true religion is born.
"This Knowledge is either Smothered or Corrupted, partly by Ignorance, partly by Malice"
Superstition, in relation to what men think of God, is primarily based upon empty speculations, vanity and pride. Hence, it is no wonder that men fashion a God after there own heart, rather than that of which God reveals Himself as. Hence out of this superstition they cannot truly worship or service their "god" since it is but a figment and dream of their own heart.
Even as Christians, it is easy to imagine a "god" which is a part representation of what is revealed in the Scriptures. For example, there is a "god of love" without the "god of wrath" today, which is the "god" preached from not-a-few Christian pulpits. The God of Love cannot be truly known, without the knowledge of the God of Wrath, which are both characteristics of the One God, and both are revealed in the same Scriptures. (Furthermore, neither the Love or Wrath of God cannot truly be known without the other.) Yet many Christians err on this point who have the same Scriptures. This exemplifies why Scripture alone is not sufficient for a Christian - the Holy Spirit must work in the readers heart, regarding the True meaning thereof. (John 15:26,27; 16:7-15).
2. Conscious turning away from God.
Men who turn away from God, are those who have extinguished this innate knowledge of God, and then by habitual sinning their hearts are hardened such that repel all remembrance of God. Or those who are still compelled to recognize Him say God is idle in the heavens, and does not care nor see the wickedness of men.
Those, who out of necessity of the blatant facts of nature (although they wish these facts did not exist), are forced to recognize some sort of god. However they are not willing to submit (nor acknowledge Him based upon the facts of nature), strip Him of his power or authority or even concern over men, leaving Him as a dead and empty idol in their minds. This type of belief system is well know, in the philosophies or theories of life, as the "clock work universe". The clock work universe, is characterized by men who belief that some super-natural Creator initially created the universe, "wound" up the spring of life, and left it to "unwind" itself, with no concern or regard to its events nor eventual end, nor has active and continual control over it, but rather as a spectator in the game of life.
3. We are not to fashion God according to our own whim.
True religion is that which is joined with Truth. Religion which is based upon superstition or the will of man, cannot possibly please God, for the worship and service they perform for their god, is based upon their false premise of Godís being. (Jer 9:24; Exo 34:5-7; Psa 146:7-9).
In Jeremiah 9:24 (and other Scriptures), God declares the things which are the things He delights and hence of His essential nature:
Jer 9:24 But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I [am] the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these [things] I delight, saith the LORD.
Loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness. (See also Isa 58).
Men who cannot escape from Godís influence on their lives, although they greatly desire to, perform some semblance of religion, which they think will pacify Godís vengeance on them. However this is only an outward and false shadow of true religion. Where they ought to serve God as He wants them to, men devise observances and trivialities which God never mentioned anywhere in Scripture to observe nor do. Likewise, when all is well they make fun of God, or belittle His authority and power, and continue in their sin. However when darkness comes, they seek Him with much ardor and desire, repenting from the many sins they have previously repented of (in an attempt to win His favor). This is religious hypocrisy.
How true this is of with Christians today. Many Christians (particularly Catholics), put on their "Sunday best" both clothing and appearances and do all in the power to please and approved by God. Yet during the other six out of seven days of the week, they behave just as wickedly as those who call themselves unbelievers. Indeed, it is not surprisingly, to find it extremely difficult, to distinguish between those who are Christians and those who are not, and even more, to be shocked when one hears of such a such person being a Christian!
"The Knowledge of God shines forth in the Fashioning of the Universe and the continuing Government of it."
(God manifested in his created works 1 - 10)
1. The clarity of Godís self-disclosure strips us of every excuse.
In addition to the "seed of religion" which God has implanted in all manís heart, He reveals Himself in the visible universe, or the "revelation of nature." No where can man look in this universe and not find his handiwork. Hence the revelation of nature, provides an additional evidence of the Creator.
It has been stated by a top professor in science, that in the scientific world, there are very few real scientists who are atheists. This is because the revelation of nature contradicts that position. Rather the majority of scientists can fall into the following categories: some acknowledge the beauty and order of the universe they study, some do not know to whom to attribute this to, some of these acknowledge the Author of this universe as a Supreme impersonal Being, others as God.
Actually to be an atheist, one must be like God (i.e. omniscience, omnipotent e.t.a.) which is a contradictory statement. For the atheist must have searched all the universe (and outside of it) and not have found God to say that God does not exist. Rather an atheist does not want to believe in God, and hence justifies his position by saying "Where is God?" Hence the position of an atheist - in itself - is really a contradiction in terms.
2. The divine wisdom displayed for all to see.
The wisdom of Godís creation can be seen by humans of all types of intelligence, training and knowledge. For example, the fields of science of astronomy, medicine, natural science, and even of art, all in their own ways penetrate into Godís creation. Even those who are dumb and or have little or no training, can via their sight, teach themselves of Godís wisdom in His creation. Hence, there is no none who cannot know Godís wisdom in His creation.
I would take this a little further and say that even those who are blind, and dumb can by their God given ability to do things of which humans can do, such as: touch, smell, taste, think, e.t.a. Thus by these things prove the wisdom of Godís creation in that they can (even) do these things, since they were born.
3. Man as the loftiest proof of divine wisdom.
If man were to honestly and truthfully look in himself (i.e. self examination) he will see Godís wisdom in his own self. For there are innumerable wonders, amazementís and would of necessity, invoke an awe and respect for one self. Babies have tongues which declares Godís wisdom, in particularly when they are hungry! This proves the divine Wisdom in creation in that who taught them to do that!
Men who have truthfully examined themselves, and acknowledge the divine wisdom in their own bodies, learn to respect themselves. This respect can be displayed in those (and they need not be religious or naturally moral) in things such as: promiscuity (immoral sex)
1Co 6:18, drinking, smoking, swearing, lying, gluttony, laziness, e.t.a., all of which are sins against the body or mind and soul of a man.
4. But man turns ungratefully against God.
Even though man has within himself the divine Wisdom of God in his own body, they do not acknowledge Him nor worship Him. Rather they bury (if indeed they have seen) this self-revelation, rather attributing the designer as unknown, or unknowable, or as a result of chance (i.e. evolution).
5. The confusion of creature with Creator.
There are three separate entities (1Th 5:23) in man: spirit, soul and body. However there are some who combine the soul and body (and reject the spirit) of man. Their reasoning is that since the soul has functions which are used only for the body, then the soul and body are inseparable. This means when the body dies so does the soul and the existence of that man ceases to exist. (Hence there is no need for heaven nor hell, and possibly no need of God.) However, Calvin argues that because the soul has actually functions which the body does not use, then it implies those functions are for a higher or outside of the body purpose. These functions include the measurements of the heavens, dreams, imagination e.t.a., which serve no bodily purpose.
There is an important point to mention: Today, there is a tendency for man, to categorize experiences, phenomena, dreams, healing and some things of the universe, e.t.a. - of which there is no scientific answer, into things which have their origin from the mind. That is, most secular men have as a fundamental belief that it is impossible for these things to come from a spiritual origin (i.e. God, devil, demons, spirits, e.t.a.), hence they always attribute these events to imaginations of the mind, the undiscovered (or secret) powers of the mind.
It may be true that they originate from the mind, for the mind is capable (under severe pressure) to imagine (or see) things which are not real, but on the other hand they may be real and have a spiritual origin.
On the other, other hand there is a tendency for religious (even Christians) to categorize natural events as spiritual. This may be due to a lack of knowledge, lack of experience or plain presumption. In other words, events which could be demonstrated scientifically and repeatable, are attributed to some miracle or work of God. In these cases they are usually not a special intervention of God, rather a demonstration of His natural laws (of which He continually sustains).
So there is a balance, between believing a special event is always natural or always spiritual. In Christians terms, there are some who believe miracles were for the Apostle age and God will not and does not do them today (and if they cannot deny a miracle they attribute it to the devil), and there are some who believe that any "miracle" (however small) must be a special intervention from God. Hence the need for the spiritual man to judge all things (1Co 2:15).
6. The Creator reveals his lordship over the creation.
Thus there is one God who governs all things and at the same time by His many manifestations reveals Himself to men. That they should acknowledge that there God is and that He is all in all. Godís lordship over His creation is seen in a small example, relating to the weather. God, in a single nod, can and does cause a quiet, clear sky to bring forth dark, heavy clouds which bring rain and lighting (and for some people fear), whilst in the same way cause this turbulence to diminish and return to its original state. (1Sa 12:16-18; Exo 9:22-24; Gen 7:4).
It is quite a fearful thing to stand in a midst of a fierce thunderstorm.
7. Godís government and judgment.
God is kind and beneficent toward all men, however He does not accept the sins of men. With the wicked, and in most cases, he lets them go their own sinful way, which in itself is a form of punishment for it is like a man kicking himself against a wall. This does not mean they will not be unpunished, but rather that their punishment is deferred.
To the righteous, this delayed punishment may seem resentful (although it shouldnít). For the righteous experience is that as soon as they have committed sin they are immediately rebuked by their Father whoís motivation for them is out of love, and not vengeance. For a father that truly loves a son will rebuke him (even if it hurts his father to do it), rather than let the son go on, hoping that he will correct himself. (Pro 3:11-12, Heb 12:5 - 11). And likewise does God the Father.
God punishes the wicked out of vengeance, and not love. Woe is him for whom God punishes! However although their punishment is delayed, it is not forgotten. Indeed, a righteous man should not loose his righteousness because he sees the wicked continue in their wickedness with no punishment. But rather, a man should keep his righteousness because he loves God, and God loves the righteous and changes not (Mal 3:6).
8. Godís sovereign sway over the life of men.
Godís hand over the life of His creation, and in particular his control over men, is evidenced in the many circumstances and events man experiences. Although these events may, from manís point of view, seem to stem from natural coincidences or circumstances, they all have their origin from God (Psa 107). Even those men who vehemently despise and deny God, He is even over control their lives as well.
No where, from the viewpoint of men, is the sovereign power of God demonstrated over the lives of men, than that of conversion. Some of the vilest God-hating men have been converted over to that they once cursed and ridiculed, and some of these have become the most saintliest and productive men that have ever entered the Kingdom of God. (The Apostle Paul is one such man, see Acts 9:1-21.) It takes the sovereign power of God to do this.
9. We ought not to rack our brains about God; but rather, we should contemplate him in his works.
Men ought not to understand and devise intelligent proofs of Godís existence, because the proofs are clearly seen all around them. From the smallest to the greatest of them, God declares Himself, each to his own. Likewise, men should not contemplate about idle and time consuming speculations about God, which even if were perceived correctly, would not benefit them in any way.
In other words, God must be understood by men, in the way He wishes to disclose Himself. Not by men with arrogant minds, who thinking themselves wise, try to penetrate into domains of which God has never disclosed. For there is no doubt, that of which God has not disclosed, men will also neither find out, no matter how intelligent nor knowledgeable they are, for God is greater than all. Likewise that which God has disclosed, those with the right heart and mind attitude will find out.
As Blasť Pascal (brilliant Christian mathematician) once said: "The whole point of reason is to show that there is an end to reason." This means that manís mind cannot ever know everything he wants or wishes to know, hence he should reason that since he cannot know this, he should no longer pursue it.
10. The purpose of this knowledge of God.
Hence this knowledge obtained from Godís creation, should cause men to worship God, and to hope for the future life. Just as the punishment of the wicked is postponed to the future so is the reward (and hope) of the righteous.
(Man nevertheless, failing to know and worship him, falls into superstition and confusion, 11 - 12)
11. The evidence of God in creation does not profit us.
Even though the knowledge of God is evidenced in His creation, man does not see nor comprehend it. Likewise, to how many men who even acknowledge of Godís providence actually live by it? Indeed this knowledge, as from manís viewpoint, might just as much profited us as if this universe operated in a by-chance fashion.
Interesting is that even though all this revelation of God in His Creation is available, how many actually become worshippers of God because of it? As mentioned before, there are many when confronted by this knowledge, acknowledge some divine Being, but not many find the Living God from it...
12. The manifestation of God is choked by human superstition and the error of the philosophers.
Most men, if not all, have formed some resemblance of Godís nature in the form of idols and gods. This idolatry reflects the depth of blindness of the human mind. Likewise, the philosophers with their intelligence, learning and knowledge, who have tried to unmask Godís character, have such numerous opinions and theories as to leave a simple man totally bewildered, between the idols and the philosophers!
(Persistent in error, we are without excuse, 13 - 15)
13. The Holy Spirit rejects all cults contrived by men.
Those who separate themselves from the one and true God, or those who fell into open idolatries or even those few who did not do these things there is still the doctrine which states that the true Religion is not understood by the mind of man (1Co 2:8).
Calvin here, states that the Holy Spirit rejects any religion or idea thereof which has its origins from manís mind, because it is either false or it will lead to errors.
14. The manifestation of God in nature speaks to us in vain.
The multitude of witnesses God has placed in His Creation for man to see of His works, is of no redeeming purpose. For even though these witnesses are blatantly before menís eyes, they have not the ability to see them.
Not only are the witnesses of God in His Creation, of no use to men, but God has also given them blindness, so that they cannot see them. (See Mat 13:10-17; Joh 12:37-40; Rom 11:7-10.)
15. We have no excuse.
Although man has an inability to see Godís witnesses, he also has no excuse. For if a man pleas ignorance, his conscience convicts him, if a man pleas lacks ears to hear, there are mute creatures with melodious voices to declare it, if a man pleas blindness, there are creatures which have not eyes, or if a man pleas dullness of mind the irrational creatures will give instruction!
"Scripture is needed as Guide and Teacher for anyone who would come to God the Creator."
1. God bestows the actual knowledge of himself upon us only in the Scriptures.
As was mentioned previously, the witnesses God has placed in His Creation of His existence, are not enough to guide us into a right knowledge of Himself. For even though these witnesses shine brightly, menís eyes are blinded, and therefore cannot see this. Hence, God has given the Scriptures which shows men the One and True God.
There are two sorts of knowledge of God in Scripture: the first is that God founded and governs the universe, and the second is that knowledge which God is known also as the Redeemer or Mediator.
Scripture is not enough to lead a man into a right relationship with the Lord (although it is vitally important for all believers). The Lord must first give the man a new heart before he will come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. Once a new heart is given, then the man (with the help of the Holy Spirit) will begin to have a true understanding of the Scriptures.
Although there are two distinct knowledge of God, they are intermingled throughout both the Old and New Testaments. For God the Founder is seen right from the start until the end, likewise God the Redeemer is seen straight after the fall of man.
2. The Word of God as Holy Scripture.
God put in the hearts of the authors of the Scriptures that which He desired. Likewise it was also Godís pleasure, so that men of future ages might know of His revelation, to put down the revelation on tablets. Again, it was Godís intention not only to reveal Himself as the Redeemer but also as the Founder of the universe, and hence the only True Authority of which the Scriptures (because of their content) obtain their validity.
For man to rightly understand Scripture he must be a pupil of it (i.e. be teachable). A man who comes to Scripture reverently and with an accepting heart will obtain the right knowledge of God.
The are two points worth mentioning here:
The first, is that, unless a man is completely convinced of the authenticity and veracity of the Scriptures as of coming from the one and only True God, he will be no means completely submit to it nor learn from it. For example, there be a commandment for a believer to do, and their be some doubt in a man whether the Scriptures be entirely inspired, he will (depending on the "severity" of the commandment) typically resort to his doubt for not doing that commandment.
The second, is that, a true believer will of necessity be given faith and confidence that the Scriptures have emanated from God. A believer who does not believe (to a substantial degree) in the authenticity of the Scriptures and submits himself to it, is a sure sign that that believer has not been born from God.
3. Without Scripture we fall into error.
Considering the depth by which man has sunk into blindness and spiritual darkness, as discussed previously, it is easy thing to see how necessary was the writing of Scriptures. Also, God who foresaw the universe as He had created but without the Scriptures, knew that although He had put multitudes of witnesses of Himself in His Creation, man would never come to a right knowledge of Himself.
If a man who has turned aside from following the Scriptures, will find that he will never reach the Eternal Goal. He will be like a man walking within the midst of a labyrinth unable to get out, unable to know where he is, and hence unable to deliver himself.
Hence, Scripture is also a guide for a man to walk his life in. It can be considered a guide by which, if followed, will lead a man back to His Creator. It is a guide written from the knowledge of man and the universe he lives in, it looks outside of man, looks at man, and it is for man to follow. Thus, the need for man, as mentioned before, for a reverent and obedient attitude towards the Scripture, for even as believers there are passages within the Scriptures which at first glance seem strange or incomprehensible, but as believers obey (or as they accept the truth of these passages) because they acknowledge the authenticity of the Scriptures, God will bless them by revealing them the Truth of the passages. For Jesus said,
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
4. Scripture can communicate to us what the revelation in the creation cannot.
Although Creation in itself cannot reveal to men God as he is, Scripture can point men to Creation and reveal to men by words what God meant visually. Also Scripture guides and corrects what men interpret, of their own accord, of what they see visually of Godís Creation.
In a way the two entities, namely, Scripture and Creation are inseparable: Scripture in that it reveals correctly (because of its authenticity) what Creation was supposed to demonstrate, and Creation because it visually demonstrates what is revealed in the Scripture. And because man, by his very design, puts much value into what he sees, both Scripture and Creation work together to reveal Godís workmanship and nature, in a more real and correct way what either of the two by itself could not do.
"Scripture must be confirmed by the Witness of the Spirit. Thus may its Authority be established as certain; and it is a Wicked Falsehood that its Credibility depends on the Judgment of the Church."
1. Scripture has its authority from God, not from the church.
The Scriptures obtain their Authority from God and not by the consent and whim of man. This also includes those who are authorities within the church. For the assurance that the Word of God comes from God is not dependent upon the decision of men but rather on the Holy Spirit who works within a manís life.
Calvin, was probably referring to the Church of Rome, but in any case, the general principle can be applied to any church or denomination. But the point is that the Scriptures do not have to be defended by man or the church, but are witnessed by the Holy Spirit. As Spurgeon once said: "I rather defend a lion than the Bible. For the Bible is well able to defend itself."
2. The church is itself grounded upon Scripture.
Those who believe that the Authority of the Word of God comes from the church are refuted by the single passage namely:
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner [stone];
For the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which did not (and could not) obtain their authority from the church since it had not yet been established.
In the same fashion, is the argument refuted, that the Scripture itself, is to remain in doubt until decided upon the Church. Again, because the church had not yet been established, it did not (and could not) have given its authority of the validity and authenticity of Scripture
3. Augustine cannot be cited as counterevidence.
The church has, in an attempt to demonstrate its authority, used the statement Augustine once said, namely: "For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the catholic church." Augustineís intention was not to say that the Scriptures depended upon the judgment of the church. But rather the authority of the church is an introduction through which we are prepared for faith in the gospel.
In other words, the church is a tool by which the Holy Spirit uses to bring men unto Himself.
4. The witness of the Holy Spirit: this is stronger than all proof.
Although rational arguments can to some degree prove that God is the Author of the Scriptures, it is not sufficient if believers are to establish a firm and sure faith, or not to beset by those "intellectuals" who come against us with their doubts and difficult questions. Rather the witness of the Holy Spirit should be our seal and guarantee of God as the Author of the Scriptures.
This is so true, for a believerís rational arguments on the Authority of the Scriptures are only as sure as they seem to be. Hence believers should receive their confirmation and assurance from the Holy Spirit who is above all menís arguments or rationality.
5. Scripture bears its own authentication.
Although Scripture in itself bears its own testimony, it really only effects men when the Holy Spirit has sealed it upon their hearts. An by this sealing or conviction, men seize the Scriptures, willing to be taught from it, and obey it as truth. Thus this conviction is beyond reason, beyond disputes and it gives rest and comfort to the weary soul, who has been continually tossed by doubts and contradictions.
"So far as Human Reason goes, sufficiently firm proofs are at hand to establish the Credibility of Scripture"
(The unique majesty and impressiveness, and the high antiquity of Scripture, 1 - 4)
1. Scripture is superior to all human wisdom.
It is of little use to demonstrate the Authority of the Scriptures, by human arguments alone, by the church or with other helps. Rather, the Authority of the Scriptures must be established by He who wrote it, namely the Holy Spirit. Once this intimate knowledge is endowed unto a man, then those human based arguments, or other helps, will become very useful. (See 1Co 2:1-6)
Also, this "power" of the Scripture, is not evident in other human writings, no matter how well they are written and polished. Indeed, the Scripture is, in most parts, written with lowly words, so that men could not say that its power was derived from the use of powerful and eloquent words. In comparison with the mighty books of man, such as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, these may effect one to some level, but when compared to the effects of the Scripture they quickly diminish. For the Scripture effects even to the marrow of man, whilst these other books the mind and maybe even to the heart.
It is important to disassociate the "power" of the Scripture with the Scripture itself. For some groups, believe that their is power in the Scripture only. For it is important to remember that the power does not come from the words themselves, but He who wrote it. For example, when the Scripture reads:
Rom 10:17 So <G686> then <G686> faith <G4102> [cometh] by hearing <G189>, and hearing <G189> by the word <G4487> of God <G2316>.
Superficially speaking, it does not simply mean that if a man hears the word of God, i.e. through preaching that he will receive faith (for experience itself shows this to be true). Rather, the word "word" (Strong number G4487, or "rhema"), actually means "that which is uttered by the living voice"; in other words, the Scriptures must be made alive by the Spirit of God, before faith is to develop. Thus, simply preaching the Scriptures is not enough for man to receive faith - but, of course, preaching is required as decreed by God.
2. Not style but content is decisive.
As mentioned previously, Scripture is, in most parts, written with lowly words, so that men could not say that its power was derived from the use of powerful and eloquent words. However, in some other parts, the Scripture is written by men who were brilliant, speaking elegantly and clear. This too, shows the Holy Spirit at work, for He did not want men to think He lacked eloquence or otherwise. But in all parts, the Scripture shows itself to be written by the same Spirit, for in all these parts, none will be found that does not exceed human measure.
3. The great antiquity of Scripture.
The antiquity of Scripture exceeds all other books written for men. For Moses, referred to the doctrine and covenants given by God to the great patriarchs of old (i.e. Abraham), Hence he did not introduce new doctrine but simply recalled that from history.
Calvin here shows that even though the oldest writer, in the Scriptures, may have been Moses (although some scholars mention Job), the doctrine that God gave him to write was none other than that which was given to the patriarchs. Thus, the Scriptures is the oldest book man has.
4. The truthfulness of Scripture shown by Mosesí example.
Even though the older parts of Scripture which [may] have been written by Moses, he did not in any way glorify or lift himself up. For he was to first to condemn his own family and tribe about their iniquity (Gen 49:5-6), also he condemned his own brother and sister (Num 12:1), and finally, being the highest authority, why did he delegate them to the lowest place and not leave the role of high priest to his sons?
(Refutation of objections regarding miracles and prophecy, 5 - 10)
5. Miracles strengthen the authority of Godís messengers.
Moses, himself, was commended by God, as His chosen man, by the many miracles Moses performed. Such miracles as: living on top of a mountain for forty days and nights without food and water, his face shown as light, lightning, thunder and a trumpet heard around the mountains, the rebellion (and death) of Koran, the gushing of the water from a rock and manna from heaven at Moses prayer.
6. Mosesí miracles are incontestable.
There were those that said Moses miracles were performed by magic, but Moses himself condemned magicians by commanding that they should be stoned to death (Exo 7:11; 9:11). But, the miracle of manna, is simply incontestable, for what magician could do this. Likewise, many of those whom he lead rose up against him with conspiracies to overthrow him. By what strength and ability could he have fought off the rebels? Thus by all these miracles (and hence proofs), is the authority of Moses established.
The principle of preaching and miracles following is also taught in the New Testament. For the preaching of the word is confirmed by the signs, (and not the other way around). See Mar 6:7-13; 16:14-17. This is also shown by experience, where preachers who have preached the Scriptures truthfully and correctly, are confirmed by God by the miracles He performs.
7. Prophecies that are fulfilled contrary to all human expectations.
The divine Authority of Scriptures is also shown in the fulfilled prophecies. For example, the fulfilled prophecy of: the primacy of the tribe of Judah, the consecration of Saul, David anointed King, the election of the Gentiles into Godís covenant.
8. God has confirmed the prophetic words.
Hence, these and other fulfilled prophecies point the confirmation of the prophets words, and hence the Authority of the Scripture. For no man, however able, could predict to the detail and accuracy, without the inspiration of God, as these prophets have done.
9. The transmission of the law is to be trusted.
The [original] Scripture is to be revered as coming from God. But in addition, the same God who wrote it, has also preserved it down through the ages.
A (valid) argument given by unbelievers upon the Scriptures, is that even though they may have originally come from God, how can we be assured that our current translation is what was originally received? The most reassuring answer, is that because God is Sovereign and has everything under control, He has kept the Scriptures from error, that His name may be preserved.
10. God has marvelously preserved the Law and the Prophets.
An argument that how could we have the Scriptures today, if Antiochus IV (of Syria, 176 - 164 BC, oppressor of the Jews), destroyed all the books? But it was well known, in particular with the godly, that immediately after the persecutions ceased, the books were in existence. For God caused godly priests and others to hide their books, even at the expense of their own lives. Then, immediately after persecutions ceased, the Greek translation followed which was transmitted to the known world.
(Simplicity and heavenly character and authority of the New Testament, 11)
The simplicity, heavenly character and authority of the New Testament, are evidenced within the three evangelists books, namely Matthew, Mark and Luke. Likewise, in John, Paul and Peters writings.
(Consent of the church, and fidelity of the martyrs, 12 - 13)
12. Unvarying testimony of the church to the Scripture.
The church as a visible demonstration of the faithfulness of God, with the many methods the Satan and the world has come up against it, has withstood all the trials and remains unassailable. By this very fact, (with the many cultural, and geographical members of) the church is confirmed to be from God, because with all these vicious and evil attempts to bring its downfall, it has remained.
It is the power of God, that His church, has both by the severe tests and tribulations, and also the actual members of the church, coming from so many different cultural (and religious) backgrounds, have remained, throughout the two thousands years, as a (somewhat) unified people.
13. Martyrs died firmly for Scripture doctrine.
Likewise, the martyrs of the church, have by their courage, and zeal towards God, demonstrated the reverence they have towards the Scriptures by their sure conviction, which is evidenced in their dying for it.
It is one thing to believe in something and another to die for it! It is said that when the Christians were thrown to the lions (in the Roman arenas as a form of sport), by their steadfast conviction in what they believed, they actually presented a powerful witness to the spectators. It is said that some of these spectators became Christians because of it!
Similarly, there is a story told of an argument between a Christian and a Muslim: after arguing for some time about each others "proofs" of the authenticity of their religions and over the inspiration of their sacred books, the Christian said: "Yes, but I am willing to die for Christ? Are you of Allah?" The Muslim said nothing and left!
Both of these examples, show the type of conviction Christians should have...
"Fanatics, abandoning Scripture and flying over to Revelation, cast down all the principles of Godliness"
1. The fanatics wrongly appeal to the Holy Spirit.
There are those, who despise and ridicule them that follow the dead and killing letter. For they have exalted the teaching office of the Spirit above that of His Word. But the Scripture plainly teaches that (namely Isa 59:21) that the Spirit and Word are bound together by an unbreakable bond. Also, the Scripture states that:
2Ti 3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Thus the Holy Spirit was not sent to invent new and unheard-of revelations, or new doctrines, but rather of sealing to menísí minds the doctrine contained within the Scriptures.
This is further confirmed by Jesus in John 16:7-15, with particular emphases on verse 14.
2. The Holy Spirit is recognized in his agreement with Scripture.
For in the same Scripture it is mentioned that believers are to discern between Good and evil Spirits. And they should discern by the most sure mark that if the spirit does not speak as is given in the Scriptures, then that spirit is lying and deceptive kind. Although it may seem irreverent for man, to judge the if the spirit at work is indeed the Holy Spirit, the Spirit Himself has ordained in the Scriptures that spiritual men should judge all spirits.
In this respect, it is important to know the Scriptures, and the doctrine thereof. For there are many "Christian" doctrines, experiences e.t.a., today which have risen lately which call themselves Scriptural correct. But being guided by the Holy Spirit with the Word of God will reveal the true colors of these doctrines and experiences. Hence the great importance for believers to acknowledge the absolute importance and respect required towards the Scriptures.
3. Word and Spirit belong inseparably together.
The Scriptures in themselves, in particular the Old Testament, in particular, is dead and leaves the hearer with his heart untouched. But when the Holy Spirit quickens it and makes it alive, the Scriptures, in particular the New Testament, becomes the word of life. This Word of Life converts souls and gives wisdom to little ones (Psa 18:8). So the Holy Spirit who had given the Word also has been sent to confirm it in the hearts of His people.
"Scripture, to correct all superstition, has set the True God alone over against all the gods of the Heathen"
1. The Scriptural doctrine of God the Creator.
Although the knowledge of God as Creator is revealed in His Creation, it is more intimately and vividly described within the Scriptures. This is a long task to show thoroughly, so it is sufficient to constrain the search to show God the Creator and His Providence in sustaining it. Together with this it will be shown his Fatherly Goodness, beneficial will towards man, and examples of His severity which show Him to be the righteous avenger of evil deeds.
2. The attributes of God according to Scripture agree with those known in His creatures.
The knowledge of the attributes of God known in His creatures has the same goal as the knowledge of the attributes of God in His Scripture. This goal is that men should first fear Him, and then to trust Him. From this we can learn to worship Him and then to depend wholly on His Goodness.
3. Because the unity of God was also not unknown to the heathen, the worshippers of idols are the more inexcusable.
Men who worshipped many gods, when speaking with a "real feeling of nature", often called their gods under the singular name "God." This shows the unity of God which has been engraved upon the hearts of all. Although the worshippers of idols with this real feeling of nature acknowledged the unity of God, it was to no use, except to make them inexcusable for their idolatry. For they also often felt the need to invoke other gods which is evident in their prayers.
Not only has God declared in the Scripture who He is and is His nature, He has also revealed it in His Creation. Thus man is inexcusable in his unbelief or in his creation of an idol and to worship it as God.
"It is unlawful to attribute a visible form to God, and generally whoever sets up idols revolts against the True God."
(Scriptural argument for rejecting images in worship, 1 - 4)
1. We are forbidden every pictorial representation of God.
Although Scriptures uses idols which where created by men it was to show that such idols are in no way comparable to the only True God and to show the utter folly and stupidity of man in his attempt to find God. Rather God clearly refutes any idols whatsoever in Exo 20:4:
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:
2. Every figurative representation of God contradicts His being.
The making of idols is contradictory to His being in the following ways:
His invisibility, God is invisible so making any visible idol is an immediate contradiction,
His Spirit, God is Spirit and hence making inanimate objects is contradictory, and,
His awesomeness, God cannot be contained by the heavens and earth (2Ch 2:6; 6:18; Jer 23:24), so how much less an idol made of wood, metal or other?
2Ch 2:6 But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who [am] I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
2Ch 6:18 But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!
3. Even direct signs of the divine Presence give no justification for images.
In the visible manifestations God revealed Himself as read in the Scriptures, the representation He showed Himself in (such as clouds, fire, a dove, tongues of fire, e.t.a.), caused men to be bridled in their imagination. For all those manifestations had a restraining effect upon menís minds so that they could not attempt to penetrate too deeply into His Nature.
4. Images and pictures are contrary to Scripture.
Gods which have been made from gold and silver, or less valuable of clay, stone or wood cannot be gods. Because the material is dead matter it cannot ever be a god in any shape or form. Even the use of precious gold and silver does not add value nor can it win reverence for the idols.
In Psalms 115:4-8, particularly verse 8, the Spirit justifies His Anger in that men who God endowed with intelligence to know all things call upon dead and insensible things for help. The Spirit thus judges that:
Psa 115:8 They that make them are like unto them; [so is] every one that trusteth in them.
It is simple to see why Godís glory is corrupted by idols. God created everything, and anything that man has at his disposable (e.g. ability to create things, intelligence, imagination, physical materials, e.t.a.) has been given by God. Hence, anything that man creates is a very low subset of Godí creation. In the context of idols (both physical and imaginary), of which its design is to make a form of God, it can never reach to the "full" image of God. Thus, it is an abomination and utterly foolish for man to make an idol, not to mention worshipping it as God!
Also, the final characteristics of the idols contradict that of which men tried to represent, thus resulting in a much smaller (and dishonoring) representation of what nature God is. Even pictures of heaven or of God are condemned for they cannot represent His majesty.
(Pope Gregoryís error in this refuted from Scripture and the fathers, 5 -7)
5. Scripture judges otherwise.
Pope Gregory once said "...images are the books of the uneducated." (Gregory the Great, Letters IX. 105; XI. 13. - and in many other letter he wrote.) But if the pope had been educated by the Spirit of God he would of never have said this. For the Scripture plainly teaches the contrary (see also Jer 10:8; Isa 41:29; Hab 2:18; Zec 10:2; Isa 44:19; Hos 4:12):
Jer 10:14 Every man is brutish in [his] knowledge: every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image [is] falsehood, and [there is] no breath in them.
From this and the other Scripture references, the Scripture teaches the images are a fountain of vanity, confusion and falsehood.
6. The doctors of the church, too, partly judged otherwise.
The doctors of the church also agree:
Augustine once said that it is not only wrong to worship idols and images, but to set them as a God,
The Council of Elvira, of the thirty-sixth canon reads: "It is decreed that there shall be no pictures in the churches, that what is reverenced or adored be not depicted on the walls," and,
Varro, said that when men added status of the gods, they "removed fear and added error."
Augustine, elaborated this further and said:
The first errors concerning God did not come from images. But once images were added, the errors multiplied,
With the addition of the images, the fear of God was diminished or even destroyed. This is because in the folly of images and in stupid and absurd invention his divinity could easily be despised.
7. The images of the papists are entirely inappropriate.
Even if Scripture had not included these very many testimonies against that the idols and images are the books of the uneducated, the papists could not even justify them on the images they portray. The images or statutes that they dedicate to the saints, they are but examples of the most abandoned lust and obscenity. Thus they should compose their idols with more modesty, then they could falsely claim that these are "books" of some holiness.
(Origin of the use of images, and consequent corruption of worship, although sculpture and painting are gifts of God, 8 - 16)
8. The origin of images: manís desire for a tangible deity.
The origin of images has always been with mankind, since the fall. In other words, it is within manís fallen nature to produce idols. For man is full of pride and boldness, dares to imagine a god according to his own capacity, overwhelmed with ignorance, conceives unreality and an empty appearance of God. With this desire to set up an idols of God another wickedness joins itself to it, that is man tries in the idol to convey the image the he has imagined. But in every age of man this pattern is observed, for manís flesh will be uneasy until he has formed something of his own nature resembling God.
9. Any use of images leads to idolatry.
The images that man has made, they will also worship them as God. Thus in time, with manís imagination they begin to believe that the idols have some sort of divinity in them. There is no difference if man simply worship the idol or the God in the idol, for it is always idolatry whenever divine honors are bestowed upon an idol.
10. Image worship in the church.
For there are people in the church, who say that image worship as if they were God was done only in the past but not now it is different, are lying shamelessly. For what man would pray or worship to an idol without him being so affected that he thinks he is heard or wished will be bestowed upon him through the idol?
11. Foolish evasions of the papists.
The papists attempt to justify their use of idols by saying that they are only servants of idol, and not worshippers of them too. (As if, indeed, it were less to serve than to worship!) For as a murderer cannot escape his guilt by calling it another name neither can the papists.
12. The functions and limits of art
Although sculpture and paintings are gifts of God, they must be used here on earth for the purpose God has ordained. A wrong purpose is that they be used to represent God, not to mention worshipping it or to imagine God in it. A right purpose is that they represent things which are visible on earth with manís eyes. There are some of these types of images which are for teaching history, others pleasure.
13. As long as doctrine was pure and strong, the church rejected images.
It is understand if is expedient at all, in Christian churches, to have images. The ancient church, when religion was flourishing never had images in their buildings. But when the purity of doctrine was diminished, then the images came in. The church fathers, in particular Augustine, judged the use of images and pictures, of no value even of a hindrance to the development of young and non-firm believers. For he says: "Images have more power to bend the unhappy soul, because they have mouth, eyes, ears, feet, than to straighten it, because they do not speak, or see, or hear, or walk."
14. Childish arguments for images at the Council of Nicaea (787).
At the Council of Nicaea, a decree was established that not only that images were to be in the churches, but they were to be worshipped. At the same time a book under the name of Charlemagne described the opinions of the bishops who participated in the Council and the proofs they employed. Here are some of them:
"God created men in his image" (Gen 1:27), from this we must therefore have images,
"Show me thy face, for it is beautiful," (Song of Solomon 2:14), images were thus commended,
"No one lights a lantern and puts in under a bushel" (Mat 5:15), to proves that images ought to be set upon altars,
"O Lord, the light of thy countenance has been sealed upon us" (Psa 4:7), proves that men should look upon the images, and,
"And as we have heard, so also have we seen." (1Jo 1:1), proves that men know God not only hearing his Word but also by looking upon images.
15. Ridiculous misuse of Scripture texts.
These and others show how folly men will use the Scriptures to prove the use of idols. And in doing so they teach all non-trust in themselves for the treat Scripture so childishly or non piously.
16. Blasphemous and shocking claims for images.
Such are the claims of these bishops that they go further:
Not only do these bishops propose the use of idols, but they cry anathema (or horror) against any who are unwilling to worship them,
Another curses the unwilling worshipper by all the misfortunes of Greece and the East,
Another states that if we bring perfume and incense to the emperor, how much more the saints?
Another said that it would be better to admit all brothels into the state than to deny the worship of images, and, finally,
That Samaritans are worse than all heretics and that anti-image worshippers are worse than the Samaritans.
It is easy to see why men set up idols and worship them. It is this fallen innate desire to worship God in a tangible or visible way. Although many of the idol worshippers would not admit that they are worshipping God in the idol, they may admit that they are using the idols as sort of a "help" to worship God. But as Calvin and Augustine has said, that in sure time men will (if they havenít at the outset) begin to ascribe divinity and powers to the inanimate objects. For even the Jews when they had seen all the visible outworking of God in the Exodus, they too set up idols. But not that out of nothing form up a God of their imagination, for they had seen God. Rather out of ignorance and fallen nature, they desired to worship God in a tangible way.
Worse still are those men who are authorities in the church, decree the use and worship idols. These men are particularly the papists and the bishops. And not only this but with what childish and fantasy they attempt to justify their idolatry from Scripture. Those who ought to be the primary teachers of the Scripture, who should be rightly dividing the Scripture (2Ti 2:15), are those who are the workers of iniquity and error! Not only this they cause the unwilling and non-form believers to do the same, by their many curses they pronounce on those who do not worship their idols.
"How God is to be so distinguished from idols that perfect honor may be given to Him alone.."
1. True religion binds us to God as the One and only God.
God declares Himself as a jealous God, and a severe avenger if He is confused with other gods. God, when he brings the believers into the covenant with Him, declares that He is their sole lawgiver. From this declaration He prescribes a rule where He is to be honored according to His own will.
However, the worshippers of idols generally do not cast the One and only God aside, rather they ascribe to Him the highest place but add lesser "gods" around Him to do His supplications. But by doing this they have rent asunder His glory, because His Glory does not remain with Him.
2. A distinction without a difference.
The old writers made a distinction between honoring and serving God, yet the two cannot be differentiated from those who practice either. The latter is greater than the former for it is greater to be enslaved than to honor. Indeed it would be very hard to serve a God who you did not honor. Hence those writers who made a distinction did so even though there was no difference.
3. Honoring images is dishonor to God.
When men kneel before anything, except God, for religious purposes, it becomes a violation of Godís honor and glory. Yet this violation is not there if men were to kneel before men as part of a civil honor (and without religious purpose).
The difference between the two kneeling is that the former is done for religion, whilst the latter is for civil purposes. The former is a reverential act coupled with religion and thus savors of something divine which is Godís alone. The latter is also a reverential act, yet it is not coupled with religion, and hence does not have the image of God as its central core, and therefore cannot take away the honor and glory of God.
"In Scripture, from the Creation onward, we are taught one essence of God, which contains Three Persons"
(Terms used in the doctrine of the Trinity by the orthodox fathers, 1 - 6)
1. Godís nature is immeasurable and spiritual.
Godís nature is immeasurable and as such it should make men afraid to try to measure Him by their own references and understandings. For men are earth-bound - they can only relate to objects by this earthly reference. And in the same way, men who are physical and natural should forbade them to try to imagine Him according to their whim.
2. The three "Persons" in God.
God has declared Himself as in three Persons to distinguish Himself from idols. Men have erred on this in the following ways: some think that God is only One only and discards completely the three Persons, some think the three Persons are actually three gods, and some think that each of the three Persons of God hold different parts of God, and when put together become one God.
3. The expressions "Trinity" and "Person" aid the interpretation of Scripture and are therefore admissible.
Certain men cry out against the use of "person" which they say has been fashioned by the mind of man to represent the Trinity. For in Scripture there are three spoken of, each of which is entirely God, yet that there is not more than one God. Hence the men who disagree of the use of the words "Trinity" and "Person" which explain nothing else except that which Scripture reveals, ought to be judged as men who bear the Word of Truth unworthily.
4. The church has regarded expressions like "Trinity," "Person," etc., as necessary to unmask false teachers.
The church has used these words to differentiate their beliefs from those who outwardly conform to the same beliefs, yet when confronted by these words, their true beliefs are revealed. For the Arians, who on one hand confess the Christ is God and the Son of God, whilst on the other hand declare that Christ was created and had a beginning, as other creatures. Likewise, Sabellius, who considered the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as almost of no importance and that each had no rank nor distinction.
5. Limits and necessity of theological terms.
The Trinity is described in this statement: the Father and Son and Spirit are one God, yet the Son is not the Father, nor the Spirit the Son. Yet the use of these theological terms are limited on one part that pious men of great renown (such as Hilary, Augustine, the Greeks and Latins) who for the most part spoke of these terms reverently yet in some parts contradicted each others and in some cases themselves. Yet the use of these theological terms is of necessity when discussing with the heretics such as the Arians and Sabellius, for with these simple theological terms one can unmask the true beliefs ("poison") of them.
6. The meaning of the most important conception.
Disputations aside, the essence of these terms is that "Person" means subsistence in Godís essence, which, while related to the others, is distinguished by an incommunicable quality. For although each Person of the Trinity is of the same essence and are bound together by an unbreakable bond, each is distinguished by an incommunicable quality. This quality is called incommunicable in that it cannot be transferred from one Person to another, hence it is the distinguishing mark between Them.
Thus, when one mentions the word God it implies the three Persons. Whilst when one mentions a specific Person (such as the "Father," or "Son," or "Holy Spirit"), it is recognized as such by this distinguishable incommunicable quality.
Somebody once said that the Trinity is like a labyrinth: once you get in it you canít get out of it! Yet the Trinity is revealed in Scripture and as such should be understood only from it. Any one who wills to learn about the trinity is cautioned that he is entering into a deep and somewhat difficult to comprehend of Godís nature, and as such much humility and piety is needed. Humility in that if one cannot understand something he should acknowledge it and leave it aside. Piety in that he should not let his imagination or idle speculations enter into his understanding, for the doctrine of the trinity has caused many to err, by men doing just this thing.
(The eternal deity of the Son, 7 - 13)
7. The deity of the Word.
This has been shown in previous chapters.
8. The eternity of the Word.
The written Word existed before it had been first written. For God has always been God, this is also in terms of God the Creator. When God spoke to Moses for example, the Word He spoke existed before He spoke it. For just because something has never been heard before does not mean it never existed. And not only this, namely that its existence occurred before it was first heard of, but in the case of Christ, that he never had a beginning, He always was, is and is to come.
9. The deity of Christ in the Old Testament.
Since Christ is the Word made flesh then the Scriptures of the Old Testament affirm this. For example:
Psa 45:6 Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom [is] a right sceptre.
No where in Scripture has this Ruler of the kingdom been given to any being (i.e. man or angels) except One and that is Christ.
In Isaiah Christ is brought forth as God and is adorned with the highest power, see Isa 9:6, and also Jeremiah 23:5-6.
10. The "Angel of the Eternal God"
In Scripture God is sometimes portrayed as an angel. Yet within the context of these passages it is clearly seen that what was thought to be an angel was actually God Himself. This is particularly seen when the "angel" commands that an offering be offered up to Him. Also in cases where men have asked the "angel" what is your name, and that angel responded:
Jdg 13:18 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it [is] secret?
Jdg 13:23 But his wife said unto him, If the LORD were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have shewed us all these [things], nor would as at this time have told us [such things] as these.
See also Isa 25:9; Zec 2:3; Hos 12:5; Mal 3:1; Gen 32:29; 1Co 10:4;
11. The divinity of Christ in the New Testament: witness of the apostles.
The apostles of Christ saw that in the Messiah were fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. (See Isa 6:1; 8:13; 45:23; Psa 68:18; 96:1,7; 97:1,7; 102:25; Joh 1:1,14; 12:41; 20:28; Rom 9:5,32-33; 14:10-11; Eph 4:8; 6:19; Heb 1:6,10; 1Ti 1:17; 3:16; Phi 2:6-7; 1Jo 5:20; 1Co 8:5-6)
12. The divinity of Christ is demonstrated in His works.
If all the above references (of which there are many more) were not enough to show forth Christís divinity, then there are His works. For Christ was the only One who could forgive sins (and still does). This was asserted by Him by the divine power He demonstrated.
13. The divinity of Christ is demonstrated by His miracles.
Although after Christ his apostles and prophets did similar to this they were demonstrating the gifts God had bestowed upon them. Yet, in most cases, Christ demonstrated them by His own power rather than by prayer.
It is easy to see that Christ is God from passages in these sections. It is important to understand the full meaning of these sections, for in future sections, subtle errors regarding Christ and His relation to the Trinity will be investigated.
Hence it is imperative to understand that the Father is one and the same God with the Son who is one and the same God with the Holy Spirit who is one and the same God, and yet there exists a real distinction (rather than a division) between the three Persons of the Trinity.
A statement made by Gregory of Nazianzus will bring this into harmonious agreement: "I cannot think on the one without quickly being encircled by the splendor of the three; nor can I discern the three without being straightway carried back to the one."
(The eternal deity of the Spirit, 14 - 15)
14. The divinity of the Spirit is demonstrated in His work.
In the same way the divinity of the Spirit is shown. In the Old Testament Moses writes the it was "...the Spirit of God..." who created the heavens and the earth. And not only the Creator but also the same Spirit which sustains everything we see and even ourselves. In salvation Scriptures teaches that the Spirit is the Author of regeneration by using His own Power. In death is the same Spirit which will cause believers to become immortal. (See Gen 1:2; Exo 4:11; Isa 48:16; 1Co 6:11; 12:4,11; Rom 11:34; Heb 2:4.)
15. Express testimonies for the deity of the Spirit.
Also in Scripture it is written that believers are the temple of God by the very fact that his Spirit dwells in us. Likewise this is also proven shown, when Ananais lied to Peter, Peter responded that he did not lie to men but to the Holy Spirit. (See Isa 6:9; 11:4; 63:10; Psa 33:6; Mat 12:31; Mar 3:29; Luk 12:10; 1Co 3:16-17; 6:19; 2Co 6:16; Act 5:3-4; 28:25-26; 2Pe 1:21.)
(Distinction and unity of the three Persons, 16 - 20)
Paul connects these three: God, faith and baptism, in that because faith is one, the he may show God to be one; because baptism is one, he may show faith also to be one. Hence because there is only one faith there can only be One God (not three faiths each for the three Persons of the Trinity.) Likewise with baptism Christ commanded that it be done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of God for the simple reason that there is one God.
17. Three ness
Yet Scripture sets forth a distinction between the One God, namely the Father from the Word and the Word from the Spirit. These distinctions are summarized here:
How the Person is distinct from the Father
Word would not have been with God unless He were another than the Father.
Nor would He have had His glory with the Father were he not distinct from the Father.
He said that there is another who bears witness to Him (Joh 5:32; 8:16)
The Father created all things through the Word (Joh 1:3; Heb 11:3)
He went forth from the Father.
The Father did not die, and rise again.
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father (Joh 15:26; compare with Joh 14:26).
Holy Spirit called "another" and also "another Comforter (Joh 14:16)).
18. Difference of Father, Son, and Spirit.
The Father is attributed to the beginning of activity, fountain and wellspring of all things; to the Son, wisdom, counsel and the ordered disposition of all things; but to the Spirit is assigned the power and efficacy of that activity.
19. The relationship of Father, Son, and Spirit.
The Son is one God with the Father because He shares with the Father one and the same Spirit; and that the Spirit is not something other than the Father and different from the Son, because He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.
When speaking about the Son, with respect to the Father, He is not the Father and when speaking about the Father with respect to the Son, he is not the Son. Yet when speaking about the Son with respect to Himself or when speaking about the Father with respect to Himself they are the Same God.
20. The Triune God.
There is One God, under the Name of God is understood a single, simple essence, in which we comprehend three Persons. Thus whenever the word "God "is mentioned this is to mean no Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But when a particular Person is mentioned and where a relation enters in (such as the Son to the Father) then we distinguish between that relation. In addition to this relation is that a Person carries an order within them: the Father is the beginning and the source (in the Father to Son relationship).
(Refutation of anti-Trinitarian heresies, 21 - 29)
21. The ground of all heresy: a warning to all
Men must use great caution that they do not think nor say beyond what the Word of God itself extends. For manís mind cannot understand the infinite God nor His purposes without His Word and Spirit. For that manner, man cannot even understand the Sun in its entirety which he says everyday. For as Hilary said that, God is a fit witness to Himself, and is not known except through Himself. In addition, let not man try to seek out God anywhere except in the Word of God or to think or say anything about Him that is not prompted by His Word.
22. Servetusí contention against the Trinity.
Servetusí said that God is assumed to be tripartite when three persons are said to reside in his essence; this is an imaginary triad, because it clashes with Godís unity. Likewise he held that the three persons to be certain external ideas which do not truly subsist in Godís essence, but represent God to us in one manifestation or another.
23. The Son is God even as the Father.
Others have said that although there are three Persons of the Trinity, except that the Father is truly the sole God, yet formed the Son and the Spirit by infusing in them His own deity. Thus the essence of God is in Him alone and is the essence giver of the Son and Holy Spirit.
24. The name "God" in Scripture does not refer to the Father alone.
Some have said that any unqualified reference to "God" in the Scriptures refers to the Father alone. Yet in those passages they quote there is also the reference of the Son and hence in this context the Father is to be understood in a relative sense, and is therefore to be restricted to the person of the Father.
Likewise when Paul states that God alone is immortal (1Ti 1:17), wise (Rom 16:27) and true (Rom 3:4), whether by these words Christ is reduced to the level of stupid and false mortals? But would Christ not be immortal who imparted immortality to angles? Would Christ not be wise who is Godís eternal Wisdom? Would Christ not be true since He is the Truth?
25. The divine nature is common to all three Persons.
The Father unless He were God, could not have been the Father; the Son could not have been the Son, unless He were God and the Holy Spirit could not have been God unless He were God. Thus the divine nature exists of itself and is common to all three Persons.
26. The subordination of the incarnate Word to the Father is no counterevidence.
When Christ was on earth He said: "It is expedient that I go up to the Father" (Joh 16:7; 20:17) "because the Father is greater than I" (Joh 14:28) he does not attribute to Himself merely a secondary deity so that He is inferior to the Father with respect to His eternal essence; but because endowed with heavenly glory He gathers believers into participation in the Father. He places the Father in the higher rank, seeing that the bright perfection of splendor that appears in heaven differs from that measure of glory which was seen in Him when He was clothed with flesh.
27. Our adversaries falsely appeal to Irenaeus.
Irenaeus once said that the Father of Christ is the sole and eternal God of Israel. Yet the man was dealing with fanatics who denied that the Father of Christ was that same God who had of old spoken through Moses and the prophets, but fancied a sort of specter produced from the corruption of the world. His intention was to make it plain that no other God is proclaimed in Scripture than the Father of Christ, and that it is wrong to imagine another.
28. The appeal to Tertullian also is no avail.
In Tertullian's view, although God is one, his Word exists by dispensation or economy; God is one in unity of substance, and nonetheless the unity is disposed into a trinity by the mystery of dispensation. There are thus three, not in status, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power; but in its manifestation. And that the Son is second to the Father, but that He is not different except by way of distinction. Thus from this definition of Tertullian's view, the appeal to the Tertullian is therefore to no avail.
29. All acknowledged doctors of the church confirm the doctrine of the Trinity.
Irenaeus set forth nothing else but what his ancestors did: Justin is one of the earliest, Hilary, Augustine who searched the writings of all, and others. From these all agree that the three persons have subsisted in God from eternity.
"Even in the Creation of the universe and of all things, Scripture by unmistakable marks distinguishes the True God from false gods."
(Creation of the world and of man, 1 - 2)
1. We cannot and should not go behind Godís act of creation in our speculation.
Men ought not to ponder what God was doing before the creation. Rather they ought to ponder on the vary many evidences that God, in the last six thousand years has shown. Thus, by confining men to these evidences they will protect themselves from otherwise going astray of which wicked men of times past have done.
2. The work of the six days shows Godís goodness toward men.
Godís Goodness towards men is further exemplified by that He first provided before He created man. For if He had made man first on a this planet which was lifeless and without form, it would have appeared that He did not provide adequately for manís makeup. Yet Godís goodness and Fatherly Love is shown that everything that was for man and things for which are pleasurable, are all provided by Him.
(The angels, 3 -12)
3. God is Lord over all!
God is Lord over all, and that includes the angels, both good and evil. For angels are ministers of God, and as such implies the God is their Creator. Hence those men which attributed divinity to them are in error.
(Creation and functions of angels, 4 -12)
4. Also we should not indulge in speculations concerning the angels, but search out the witness of Scripture.
Having asserted that angels are created beings and that God is their Creator (Psa 103:20-21), it is idle to speculate at what time the angels were created. Rather it is the evidence of stubbornness on the part of man to probe into their creation date since the Scriptures plainly teach that the earth was finished and that the heavens with all their host were finished (Gen 2:1). Hence this applies to believers also in that they should not seek out idle things but rather those things which lead to edification.
5. The designation of the angels in Scripture.
Angels are celestial spirits who ministry and service God uses to carry out all things He has decreed. Hence they are intermediary messengers to manifest God to men. Other names attributed to angels include: hosts (Luk 2:13), bodyguards, soldiers, principalities (Eph 1:21; 1Co 15:24), powers, dominions. See also Col 1:16; Psa 138:1; Gen 18:1; 32:2,28; Jos 5:14; Jdg 6:14; 13:10,22.
6. The angels as protectors and helpers of believers.
Angels are dispensers and administrators of Godís beneficence and also keep watch over believers and make sure that no harm may befall us. God delegates angels to take charge of those whom He wishes to. See Gen 16:9; 24:7; 48:16; Exo 14:19; 23:20; Psa 34:7; 90:11-12; 91:11-12; Isa 37:36; 2Ki 19:35; Jdg 2:1; 6:11; 13:3-20; Mat 4:11; 28:5,7; Luk 22:43; Act 1:10.
7. Guardian angels?
Although angels are clearly represented in the Scripture, guardian angels are not. Yet angels have been appointed as guardians over specific kingdoms and provinces. (Dan 10:3,20; 12:1). Christ said in Mat 18:10 that childrenís angels always behold the Fatherís face, and yet this could imply the there are certain angels to whom their safety has been committed.
There is one passage which bears more light on this subject and that is Act 12:15:
Act 12:15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
This is when Peter, led out of the prison, knocked at the gates of the house in which the brethren were gathered, since they could not imagine it was he they said this.
8. The hierarchy, number, and form of the angels.
Michael is the "great prince" (Chr 12:1) and archangel (Jud 1:9). Likewise Gabriel (Dan 8:16; Luk 1:19,26) and Raphael (Tobit 12:15). As to the number there are legions (Mat 26:53), myriads (Dan 7:10; 2Ki 6:17), and huge multitude (Psa 34:7). As to their form, they are spirits which have no bodily form; some have wings such as seraphim and cherubim.
9. The angels are not mere ideas, but actuality.
It was the opinion of the Sadducees of old (Act 23:8) that by angels were nothing but impulses of God which inspired men or examples of His power. Yet there are so many testimonies of Scripture which are contrary to this position. See Gen 18:2; Psa 91:11; Mal 3:1; Mat 4:6; 18:10; 22:30; 24:36; 25:31; 26:53; Luk 4:10-11; 9:26; 15:10; Act 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 1:4; 2:5; 2:16; 12:22; 1Ti 5:21; Rev 5:11;
10. The divine glory does not belong to the angels.
Often times past men used to superstitiously that angels were the dispensers and ministers of all good things. So that what belongs to God had been transferred to them. Yet Paul taught that not only was Christ above them that He was also the source of every good thing (Col 1:16,20;)
And if this was not enough in Rev 22:8-9, which gives an account of the angelís response when John the disciple bowed before him.
11. God makes use of the angels, not for his own sake, but for ours.
God does not out of necessity delegate His protection and ministering over to His angels out of necessity, as if He could not do without them, for as often as He pleases, He disregards them and carries out His work through His will alone. Yet He does this because otherwise believers would sometimes be filled with anxiety or fear or even despair without them knowing that God has given them angels to guard them and "camped" around them. Although this is a fault of believers in that they should trust in God protection, the Lord overlooks this and out of His immeasurable Kindness and Gentleness, provides them as such.
12. The angels must not divert us from directing out gaze to the Lord alone.
So then believers must not be frightened by the multitude of the enemy, but that they may take refuge in that utterance of Elite, that "...there are more for us than against us." (2Ki 6:16). Hence how ridiculous it is for believers to be move their gaze or trust from God to angels in this respect. For the angels by their very presence testify that Godís help is all the closer to them!
Scripture amply testifies that Angels exist, and are real. They are ministers and servants of God, they also are helpers and protectors of believers. God does not need angels as such but rather by His use of them demonstrates (to believers) that His help is "more" readily available in that believers can relate to them and also by the fact that the number of them far exists those of the enemy. Yet on the other hand believers are not to pray or invoke angels, but rather with trust and reverence ask God for whatever they wish, and God will do according to His will.
(The devils in the purposes of God, 13 - 19)
13. Scripture forearms us against the adversary.
Scripture amply teaches of the devil (and his demons) and of their enmity against God and his people. Believers are commanded that they equip themselves with all manner of armor and weapons of which God has provided. For the enemy never ceases to threaten believers, has rash boldness, military prowess, extremely crafty, untiring zeal and haste, and excellent skill in warfare. Because the believers war does not end until their deaths, they are told to persevere, continually asking God for His protection, strength, encouragement and armor. See Mat 12:29; Luk 11:21; Joh 12:31; Eph 2:2; 6:12-13; 2Co 4:4; 1Pe 5:8-9;.
14. The realm of wickedness
Scripture also declares that the devils armies are not one, not two, nor a few foes, but great armies which war against believers. Examples include Mary Magdalene (Mat 12:43-45; Mar 16:9; Luk 8:2), and the man possessed by a legion of demons (Luk 8:30). From these believers ought to learn that they are to wage war against infinite number of enemies, and not to become idle.
In addition the frequent mention of Satan or the devil in the singular denotes the empire of wickedness opposed to the Kingdom of Righteousness. Just as Christ is the Head of the Kingdom of Righteousness so is Satan the head of the kingdom of wickedness.
15. An irreconcilable struggle.
If believers are for Godís kingdom then by default they must be against Satanís. Hence believers ought to fight and wage war against Satan and his devils, and should never be deceived at peace or truce with him. For Satan opposes God and His Truth by using deception, obscures the light with darkness, entangles menís mind with errors, stirs up hatred, kindles contentions and combats. Satanís overriding aim is to overturn Godís kingdom, and plunge men along with himself into eternal death.
16. The devil is a degenerate creation of God.
It is important to note that although the devil was created by God, his malice which is attributed to his nature came not from God but from his perversion. Believers are warned that they must not attribute the devils wickedness and evil from God, for this is alien to Him. Rather as Christ stated in Joh 8:44, Satan was once in the Truth, yet is called the father of lies which deprives him from imputing to God the fault which he brought upon himself.
It is also important to note that although the cause and manner of Satanís fall is not very clearly written in Scripture, it should therefore not cause worry or concern or idle speculations from the part of believers. For the Holy Spirit wrote only what is to believers edification and not to feed their (idle) curiosities.
17. The devil stands under Godís power.
Yet all that has been thus far said of the devil, is sufficient that he is still under Godís power and will. For when Satan wanted to harm Job, he did not dare do such a thing unless he had first asked for it from God (Job 1:6,12; 2:6). And when Ahab was to be deceived Satan took upon himself to become a spirit of falsehood in the mouths of all his prophets (1Ki 22:20-22). See also: 1Sa 16:14; 18:10; Psa 78:49; 2Th 2:9,11; 2Co 4:4; Eph 2:2;. For when it is said the Satan resists God and His works it is also true this resistance is dependent upon Godís will.
18. Assurance of victory
God also tests the believers by allowing the demons to cause believers to be in combat, in ambush, invade their peace, beset them in combat, weary them, rout them, terrify them, and sometimes wound them. Yet in all this they are never vanquished or crushed. For the wicked the demons are given free reign and misuse them as if they were slaves to them. See Gen 3:16; 2Sa 24:1; Luk 10:18; 11:21-22; Joh 3:8-10; 8:44; 14:30; Eph 4:27; 1Pe 5:8-9; 2Co 4:4; 12:7; 2Ti 2:25-26; Rom 16:20; Heb 2:14;
19. Devils are no thoughts, but actualities.
As mentioned previous about angels which are not thoughts but rather actualities so too are the devils. Devils are not nothing else than evil emotions or perturbations which come from believers flesh. For Scripture amply testifies to the contrary, see Job 1:6; 2:1; Mat 12:43; 25:41; Joh 8:44; Jud 1:6; 1Jo 3:10; 2Pe 2:4. How meaningless it would have been written in Scripture if the devils which are destined for eternal judgment, fire has been prepared for them, they now they are tormented and tortured, if devils were non-existent!
Scripture teaches that the devil and his demons are real, that they represent the Kingdom of wickedness with Satan as their head, that they are highly organized (hierarchy), that they are no small foe, that they are exceedingly great number (many legions), that they are well skilled in all manner of warfare and weaponry, and finally that their goal is to overturn Godís Kingdom.
Satanís primary mission is to overturn Godís Kingdom and thus this means that he is at enmity with Christ, and therefore His believers. Thus on one hand believers should not assume that the devil and his demons are small fry, or that the demons do not concern themselves with believers. But rather they should always be in Godís will and always ready for war (even to their last day on earth), and that they use what God has given for them to use and use it in the way He intended it to be used. On the other hand believers should not be terrified of the devil and his demons, for Scripture plainly teaches that the devil and his demons are all under Godís will and that the number of host of heaven is far greater than them. Hence, they must put their strength, hope and trust not in themselves, nor their armor and weapons, nor in angels, but only in God.
(The spiritual lessons of Creation, 20 - 22)
20. Greatness and abundance of Creation
Meanwhile let us take delight in Godís Creation, whenever we set our eyes upon them, and ponder to what end God created them. For believers, it is important that they first grasp the history of the creation and of the universe, then from this they will learn that God by His power of His Word and Spirit created heaven and earth out of nothing, and that He brought forth living things. That He endowed each according to its nature, assigned functions, appointed places and stations, and that although subject to corruption He nevertheless preserves them until the Last Day. The believers will learn that by forming Man as such, God, has put him forth as the most excellent example of His works.
21. How should we view Godís works?
Believers ought to view Godís creation without passing over them in ungrateful thoughtlessness and forgetfulness, but rather learn to apply that knowledge to themselves that their hearts be touched. Firstly, believers ought to reflect upon the greatness of the Creator, who positioned, arranged and fitted each of the host of heaven according to its nature is such a wonderful way that nothing more beautiful in appearance can be imagined.
22. The contemplation of Godís goodness in his creation will lead us to thankfulness and trust.
Secondly, believers ought to recognize that God has destined all these things for their good and salvation but at the same time to feel His power and grace in ourselves and in the great benefits He has placed upon us. This should stir trust, praise and love towards God.
It is shown by the order of Creation that God created everything for manís sake. This is further exemplified in that God took six days to prepare and fashioned everything before he created man. Thus how ungrateful it is for man to think whether or not God takes care of him who before man was even born God prepared everything for him that would be useful.
Hence whenever we view Godís Creation we ought to learn from it, that He cares much for man. That everything man required was provided for him. Thus from this believers must wait on God in trust for all their provisions knowing that He will never leave them ashamed or begging for bread (Psa 37:25). Likewise, they ought to ask God of whatever they wish, upon receiving it they acknowledge it as a blessing from Him.
"Discussion of human nature as created, of the faculties of the soul, of the image of God, of free will, and of the original integrity of manís nature.."
(Manís nature deformed; yet his soul bears, though almost obliterated, the image of God, 1 - 5)
1. Man proceeded spotless from Godís hand; therefore he may not shift the blame for his sins to the Creator.
Believers must be careful not to attribute the evils found in man to God: for there are those who think that they have sufficient defense if they can only impute to God their faults, and there are those who, although more reverently, attribute their faults to nature, yet by doing so they still bring reproach to God.
2. Diversity of body and soul.
The word "soul" is an immortal yet created essence, which is sometimes called "spirit." However, when these two words ("soul" and "spirit") are used together they mean different things, but when "spirit" is used, it means the same thing as "soul."
There is manís spirit which is clearly observable: in that he can search out heaven and earth, the secrets of nature, its progression of human knowledge, the ability to infer future events from the past, conceive the invisible God, the angels, grasp things that are right, just and honorable, e.t.a. All of these things are invisible and outside the reach of the body, therefore the spirit must be the seat of this intelligence.
There is manís soul which is clearly seen in Scripture: men dwell in houses of clay (Job 4:19), at death leave the tabernacle of the flesh, putting off what is corruptible, sin resides both in the body and the soul, Christ is the shepherd of souls, the eternal salvation of souls, render account of our souls, be afraid of Him who after He has killed the body (which is temporal) kills the soul (which is eternal). See also: Mat 10:28; Luk 12:5; 16:22-23; Acts 23:8; 2Co 1:23; 5:6,8; 7:1; 1Pe 1:9; 2:11,25; Heb 12:9; 13:17.
3. Godís image and likeness in man.
All of the above is clearly evidence in Gen 1:27:
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
For Godís glory shines forth in the outer man, yet there is no doubt that the proper seat of his image is in the soul. For in that the body of man differentiates him from animals, so the inner man (the soul) joins more closely with God.
The image and likeness of God represent the same thing, except likeness is used in way of explanation. The soul of man is Godís image, yet Godís likeness is also attributed to him in that man stands above and over all of living creatures. Likewise angels were created to Godís likeness, and the highest perfection of man will be that likeness (Mat 22:30).
4. The true nature of the image of God is to be derived from what Scripture says of its renewal through Christ.
Nevertheless there is no complete definition of "image" of God in man unless it is taken from the restoration of his corrupted nature. When man fell he was alienated from God, yet the image of God was not totally destroyed, but whatever of that remains it is a horrid representation of the image of God. So in the restoration which is obtained through Christ, man is restored the true and complete image of God (Col 3:10). This is further exemplified in Eph 4:24:
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
5. Manichaean error of the soulís emanation.
Manichaean and his followers state that because God breathed the breath of life upon manís face, they thought that the soul is a part of Godís substance, as if some part of immeasurable divinity had flowed into man. But this error is clearly seen, for if part of Godís divinity had passed into man, then it would be concluded that Godís nature is subject to change, passions, to ignorance, wicked desires, infirmity and all manner of vices, all of which is found in man. Yet when man is restored to Godís image as mentioned above, it is not by an inflowing of Godís substance, but rather by the grace and power of the Spirit (2Co 3:18).
Man has a body and soul. The body is the visible form and is mortal, the soul the invisible and is immortal. The body is made in a likeness of God in that Man rules over all the living creatures on earth. The soul is made in the image of God in that it proceeded from God and is made of the same substance and has similar characteristics.
Although originally made in the image of God, manís soul, in his fallen state, is a horrid representation of the image of God. Yet when converted, manís soul is restored to the true and complete image of God (or is given a new nature). On conversion man is restored to Godís image not by an inflowing of Godís substance, but rather by the grace and power of the Spirit.
Although manís soul was made in the image of God it is not an actual part of the divine nature. This is easily seen in that man, in his fallen state, is subject to change, passions, to ignorance, wicked desires, infirmity and all manner of vices, all of which is not found in God.
(Opinions of the philosophers on the soul criticized in view of the fall of Adam, 6 - 8)
6. The soul and its faculties.
The soul is an immaterial essence, it is not contained by space, although it dwells in man, it animates the parts of the body, it rules over man to do the duties of his earthly life and also to arouse him to honor God. The knowledge of God is engraved on the soul, which is evidenced in man in that they are concerned about their good name which is comes from shame which comes from regard for things honorable which comes from this knowledge of God. And because manís seeks happiness and that he understands that happiness is found only in God, he shows himself endowed with reason.
As regard to the philosophers they describe the following faculties of the soul: fantasy which distinguishes things which have been apprehended by common sense, reason which embraces universal judgment, and understanding which contemplates what reason ponders.
7. Understanding and will as the truly fundamental faculties.
Because the philosophers in their description of the faculties of the soul are ignorant of the corruption of man confuse two very diverse states of man. Thus the human soul consists of two faculties: understanding and will. Understanding distinguishes between objects which seems worthy of approval and disapproval. Will chooses what understanding pronounces good but to reject what it says is bad. Thus the understanding is the leader and governor of the soul and that will is the doer of the understanding.
8. Free choice and Adamís responsibility.
Thus when Adam was created he was endowed by God with understanding and will. With understanding to distinguish between good and evil, right from wrong, what should be followed and what rejected. With the will to "choose" and do what understanding ordered.
Thus in this state (excluding Godís secret predestination) Adam had the choice to eternal life or death. Thus Adam could have stood or fell only by his own will. Yet because Adamís will was deprived of perseverance that he fell so easily. But his choice of good and evil was free, and all his members were perfectly and without corruption designed. Yet the reason why God did not grant Adam this perseverance of will remains hidden in His secret plan.
God was not constrained to make man who either could not or would not sin at all. Nor was God constrained to discuss with man whether he should or should not give this lack of perseverance of will. Nor can man object that Adamís will was made weak by God, and hence shift the blame of Adamís fall to God. For all of these arguments, whether they are right or wrong (and neither should they be judged as such by man) are the domain of God and not of man.
The biblical picture of the soul consists of two main components: the understanding and the will. The understanding decides what things are for its good and evil, and hence is the leader and governor of the man. The will chooses what understanding pronounces to do and to not do what understanding dictates, and hence is the doer of man.
God made Adam perfect and without blemish or spot which could otherwise be attributed to his fall and Adam fell on his own free will. God in His Wisdom, gave Adam a lack of perseverance of will, which made him fall so easily. God was not constrained to make man so that he could never sin, nor that he should or should not give this lack of perseverance of the will nor that He is the Author of sin. All of these arguments are not the domain of man but of Godís secret will.
"God by His power nourishes and maintains the world Created by Him, and rules its several parts by His providence."
(Godís special providence asserted, against the opinions of the philosophers, 1 - 4)
1. Creation and Providence inseparably joined.
God is not just the Creator of the universe in the sense of having once created it, He no longer intervenes nor sustains. Rather, God is both the Creator and Governor of it. This means, not only does he drive the universe by a universal force, but also He continually sustains, nourishes and cares for everything He has made. Which is the same thing as Godís providence. As far as man is concerned the Apostle Paul describes Godís providence:
Act 17:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Regarding the rest of the living creatures, see Psa 104:27-30.
2. There is no such thing as fortune or chance.
Scripture teaches of Godís sovereign providence hence it is therefore opposed to fortune and chance. For Christ taught that the hairs of the head of a man are all numbered (Mat 10:30) which implies that Godís knows of and controls everything by His will.
Godís providence is clearly seen in the sun. The sun rises and sets daily, yet it is not by some blind instinct or by "natures" will that such motion should occur. For God in the creation before He Created the sun commanded that lights should appear and that vegetation should fill the earth; both of which to a secular man would of necessity need the sun. Also when Joshua prayed that the sun stood still and that King Hezekiah the sun went back ten degrees. All these examples show that God is in absolute continual control and nothing is done except by His will.
3. Godís providence governs all.
Neither is Godís providence limited to a first cause then it propagating through the laws of nature. For God is absolutely sovereign and omnipotent which means that whatever He wills it will be done, from the greatest to the smallest thing. Hence what comfort for believers in that they suffer nothing except by Godís command. But there are believers who when they suffer they become fearful of the attackers to the point where they think that the attackers can do anything they will. Yet let these believers learn that all things good and evil are governed by Godís will such that nothing happens except for Him, and that God is well able to guard them against their attackers. Thus believers should not try to pacify their attackers by compromise, but rather overcome them by trusting God who never allows those who truly trust in Him to be ashamed. (See Jer 39:16-18.)
4. The nature of providence.
Thus the providence of God covers everything - not just the Creation, every event that occurs in the universe is governed by Him. For there are those who attribute a governance to God yet does not specifically direct the action of individual creatures. Thus they say that God governs by His might not by His determination.
God is the Creator and Governor of the universe. The Creator because He created everything, and the Governor because He continual sustains, looks after and provides for His creation, which is also called His providence. Godís providence, His sovereignty and omnipotence are very closely tied together. For with these three components, God wills, does and provides for everything He has created. Thus there is no such thing as fortune and chance, in the sense that events occurred by their might. Indeed if there were such thing as fortune or chance then God cannot be the God of the Bible, He must be something less.
(Doctrine of special providence supported by the evidence of Scripture, 5 - 7)
5. Godís providence also directs the individual.
Sufficient proofs of Godís providence in all things are in Scripture: God waters the earth with dew and rains (Lev 26:3-4; Deu 11:13-14; 28:12), yet closes heaven according to His will (Lev 26:19). And in some cases He strikes fields with hail and storms which are signs of His special providence. Godís general providence is shown also in Scripture, in that He feeds all creatures yet to some he feeds meagerly others abundantly.
6. Godís providence especially relates to men.
Man is moved by God according to His will, Scripture declares that this is so:
Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man [is] not in himself: [it is] not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Pro 16:9 A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
Pro 20:24 Man's goings [are] of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?
7. Godís providence also regulates "natural" occurrences.
Even natural events are governed by God: God stirred up the south wind which gave birds as food for the Israelites (Exo 16:13; Num 11:31). God causes a fish to capture Jonah yet not consume him (Jon 1:4). God commands and raises the stormy wind (Psa 106:25; 107:29; Amo 4:9).
Likewise although the power of reproduction is implanted in man, God shuts up the womb so that it is barren (Gen 30:2; Psa 113:9; 127:3). Likewise when Scripture reads:
Deu 8:3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
It is to show that man does not need bread to live but man lives according to the decree of God. That is, not what man thinks he needs does he live by, but rather by Godís decree does man live.
Godís providence includes men, even to the way man will direct his paths. Even though it has been given to man to devise planís (even the smallest plan), at the end of the day, Godís will, will be performed. Hence a wise believer ought to conform his will to Godís will, for a man who has his will in line with Godís will find that everything he does will glorify God, everything he puts his hand to or does will be blessed, everything he prays for he will receive.
(Discussion of fortune, chance and seeming contingency in events, 8 - 9)
8. The doctrine of providence is no Stoic belief in fate!
This doctrine is summarized as that God is the ruler and governor of all things, who in accordance wit His wisdom has from the beginning decreed what He was going to do and now by His might does exactly that. This doctrine not only includes the inanimate creatures but also the living creatures which includes man, such that the intentions of men are governed by Godís providence.
9. The true causes of events are hidden to us.
Because manís mind is so far below Godís providence a help is needed so that he can understand the events around him. Although events occur absolutely under Godís command for men they are fortuitous. By fortuitous it is not meant they occur by chance or fortune, but that because the reason for those events lie hidden in Godís will and thus are not understood by man, those events are in this sense, fortuitous.
Thus all events, no matter how fortuitous or trivial they seem, are all ordained and governed by God. In any case, believers ought to acknowledge that all the events come from Godís will.
"How we may apply this doctrine to our greatest benefit."
(Interpretation of divine providence with reference to the past and the future, 1 - 5)
1. The meaning of Godís ways.
There are three things of importance regarding what is divinely ordained:
Godís providence must be considered with regard to the future as well as the past,
God sometimes works through an intermediary, sometimes without an intermediary sometimes contrary to every intermediary, and,
God may reveal His concern for the whole human race, but especially His concern in ruling the church, which He watches more closely.
The causes of many events in this universe are hidden to men, but this is no reason for them to attribute them to blind fortune or chance. For if men had quiet and composed minds many of these hidden causes would come to the light, and show that God has willed them to be. Also, it would show that God has the best reason for the events. Hence, men in particular believers, ought to come to the conclusion that David did:
Psa 40:5 Many, O LORD my God, [are] thy wonderful works [which] thou hast done, and thy thoughts [which are] to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: [if] I would declare and speak [of them], they are more than can be numbered.
2. Godís rule will be observed with respect!
Although God has given His Word in the form of Scriptures it does not mean that that is all that God has done, is doing, and will do. For the same Scriptures declare that God has a hidden will, that is, it is not revealed to man, which He does. For Paul wrote:
Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
(Also see Deu 29:29.)
So although Godís hidden will is not revealed to men, they ought to still respect God and actions, for God is the sole Ruler of Righteousness, and the Just cause of all things, and hence men can safely submit themselves to Him.
3. Godís providence does not relieve us from responsibility!
There are men in relation to Godís providence hold the view that since Godís will is fixed, whatever He wills will be done. Therefore men ought to do nothing for themselves, and that believers prayers are of no effect, and that the cause of evil is God, e.t.a. Hence these men by holding this view relieve themselves (or they think they do) of responsibility.
4. Godís providence does not excuse us from due prudence.
Although God has decreed every event this ought not to excuse man from prudence. For in the same Will God has ordained and hence provided, lessons that men do not do certain things, taught men to foresee dangers so that they avoid them and to take care of themselves that they do not become ill, provides remedies that men take them, e.t.a.
5. Godís providence does not excuse our wickedness.
There are men who state that since God has willed everything, how can He justly punish men for committing the evils they commit? Or, for example, why should a murderer be punished, who has killed a man whose life the Lord had ended? And if all such men are serving Godís will why should do be punished?
However, men who commit evils, do they do them because they are willingly serving Godís will? No, but it is that they are serving their own evil will. Hence man does these evils because manís evil will caused him to do it. However this does not mean that when man does evil, God had not willed it. For God uses these men, even thought they commit evil, to carry out His will and decree.
This relation between God will and manís wickedness and responsibility can be summarized by an analogy: Consider the Sun and a corpse on the earth. The sun rays cause the corpse to rot and putrefy and hence smell, yet no man will say that the sun rays stink. And in the same way God can (and does) use a wicked man for His own purposes, yet Himself not being defiled by doing so.
All events, whether evil or good, are ordained by God. God works through believers, unbelievers, creatures, inanimate objects, everything in the universe to fulfill His will. Although, to men, the cause of these events seem hidden, it does not mean that they should attribute them to chance or fortune. In other words, because the reasons for the events seem difficult and hard to comprehend to men, as coming from God, it does not mean that they do not. For Scripture plainly teaches that they do.
However, although Godís providence is sovereign, it does not mean that man is relieved from responsibility, from prudence, or from his wickedness. For in all these cases, God has provided events or ways to apply, learn and overcome them. Does it is foolishness, and ignorance for man to become fatalistic in his living once having heard of Godís providence and sovereignty.
(Meditating on the ways of God in providence: the happiness of recognizing acts of providence, 6 - 11)
6. Godís providence as solace of believers.
Believers therefore can take comfort in Godís Providence, for God keeps watch over them, will not suffer anything to happen to them except that which turns out to be good (Rom 8:28), and that anything that does happen is according to the will of God.
Godís general providence applies to all men, unbelievers and believers, yet Godís special providence applies only to believers. Godís special providence is a more intimate and personal providence. For when Christ stated that believers are more valuable than sparrows (Mat 10:29-31) and that the sparrow does not fall to the ground without the Fatherís will, and that believers are more valuable than sparrows, He implies that believers ought to realize that God watches over us with much more care than this.
7. Godís providence in prosperity.
A believer who has grasped this doctrine of Godís providence will in no way be ungrateful to God about events which happen to him, even if they be evil. For believers, this doctrine cause them to be grateful for good things, freedom from worry, patience and long-suffering in adversity, e.t.a. In concerning good things, the believer will attribute it to Godís will, whether he feels that God has been favorably to him in that he has worked through other believers, or even through unbelievers who have shown kindness, warmth and friendliness to them.
8. Certainty about Godís providence helps us in all adversities.
Certainty about this doctrine, cause believers to handle the attacks of the adversary. For example, if Joseph had not contemplate Godís providence when he was so cruelly dealt by his brothers, he would never had been able to show the brotherly attitude (and even of comforting his brothers) he showed to his brothers. (Gen 45:5,7-8; 50:20). Likewise, when Shimei cursed with threats and stones, David rebuked him not for he said "...the Lord has ordered him to curse" (2Sa 16:11). See also Job 1:21; Psa 39:9.
9. No disregard of intermediate causes!
However a believer who acknowledges Godís providence, has received a blessing from a man, ought not to disregard the man as to showing kindness, or thanks or to repay him on the next occasion. Thus a believer when he receives a blessing ought to first acknowledge that the Lord is the Author of it, reverence and praise God, and then honor the man or men as is becoming of a believer.
Likewise, a believer when he is in need of help or other, ought to take counsel, and neither be lazy in asking the assistance of others, in doing so he knows the actual provider of help will not come from his diligence, or from others, but rather from the Lord. It may be that the Lord will actually intervene directly on the believerís part or it may be that He will work indirectly through men or creatures, e.t.a. But in any case, the believerís confidence does not rest on the help of man or creatures, but holds his mind fixed on Godís providence alone.
10. Without certainty about Godís providence life would be unbearable.
How many dangers and life threatening events can happen to a man? For within manís body there are a thousand of diseases which are held in place by various processes, or if he embarks on a ship, he is one step away from drowning, or if he mounts a horse and his foot slips, or if he walks through the city, or if you pass fierce animals, or if he tries to shut himself up in his house, of fire, of collapsing, of robberies, e.t.a. Indeed, although these examples are rare, they do happen, and with what fright, dread and misery must a man live if he conceives all these events happening by blind fortune!
11. Certainty about Godís providence puts joyous trust toward God in our hearts.
When a believer grasps Godís providence, what freedom and release from anxiety. For a believer knows that God is the Author and Governor of all events in the universe and that nothing happens without His will. A believer who has grasped this doctrine, can say as David did:
Psa 54:4 Behold, God [is] mine helper: the Lord [is] with them that uphold my soul.
Psa 118:6 The LORD [is] on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
Heb 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
The doctrine of Godís providence ought to be a blessing for believers. For it assures them of Godís control over events over the universe and His Fatherly care over them. Both in prosperity and adversity believers ought to look to God, one for gratitude, joy and praise, the other for comfort, strength and perseverance. In prosperity believers ought to honor any intermediary men who have brought the blessing to them (as messengers of God), whilst at the same time acknowledging the Author of the blessing, both of which honors and glorifies God.
(Answers to objects, 12 - 14.)
12. On Godís "repentance."
There are a number of passages in Scripture which seem to indicate that Godís changed his will. God is said to have repented of having created man (Gen 6:6), of putting Saul over the kingdom (1Sa 15:11), of repenting of the harm He would do if His people turned from their ways (Jer 18:8). Other examples, include, Jon 2:3,10, Isa 38:1,5; 2Ki 20:1,5; 2Ch 32:24.
If God were to repent it would imply that God is ignorant of future events, or cannot escape it, or rushes into a decision of which He immediately must repent of it. But in 1Sa 15:29, God said that He is not a man, and that he does not lie nor repent. (See also Num 23:19.) Thus when God said that He repents it is to be taken figuratively. See next paragraph for an explanation of the word "repentance" when used with God.
13. Scripture speaks of Godís "repentance" to make allowance for our understanding.
Thus, the question arises what does the word "repentance" mean? It is certain that the use of this word is such that men can understand it in their understanding, which is a common practice of Scripture, when meanings of God, or heaven or earth, if they were written such as they are, men would have no hope to understand them. Thus when it is written in Scripture the word "repentance" it has been used not to represent Himself but as He seems to men.
For when God "repented" from what He was going to do, it was that as far as man is concerned, God changed His action. In actual fact God did not "change" His actions based upon the actions of will, for He had decreed both from eternity. But from manís point of view it would seem God had changed His will based upon the actions of man.
14. God firmly executes His plan.
Whenever God declared a punishment upon peoples He included a condition. If this condition was satisfied God turned from the punishment He was to execute. But this does not mean that based upon the will of man God changed His will. For from all eternity God decreed (in theses cases) that He would pronounce this punishment (and not actually carry it out) so that the people will return to Him. Thus from manís point of view God repented from the punishment He would inflict, but in actual fact God willed that all along.
Although it may seem from manís point of view God has changed His will when it is written in Scripture that He "repented," it does not mean that. It means that, in these cases, God from all eternity willed that He would pronounce punishment (although he would not carry it out) so that the people would repent and turn to Him. In all these declaration of punishment God added a condition which if the people followed He would not punish them. In this way God did what He said.
"God so uses the works of the ungodly, and so bends their minds to carry out his judgments, that He remains pure from every stain."
1. No mere "permission"!
God not only permits evil events, but He also wills and commands its execution. In other words, whatever God permits to be done, He also willed it to be done, using ungodly creatures as much as godly ones, yet remains Pure and free from every stain. Carnal men cannot comprehend how God can remain just when He wills and therefore commands Satan and the demons, and ungodly men for His purposes. Thus these men distinguished between what God permitted and what He actually willed, and hence they attributed the works of Satan and the demons as having been permitted by God (but not willed by Him). However, it is once again, easily shown from Scripture that this view is false.
In Job 1:6; 2:1; Satan presented himself before God to receive His commands. Although Satan was permitted to do what he wanted, it was God who was the Author of the Jobís trial:
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
In 1Ki 22:20-22; God wills that the King Ahab be deceived, of which a lying spirit offers his service, and God commands him to do so. In 1Ki 22:20, God wills that Ahab be deceived:
1Ki 22:20 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
In 1Ki 22:22 God permits the spirit to do as he has said:
1Ki 22:22 And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade [him], and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
Other similar events are the Jews intention to destroy Christ (Act 2:23; 3:18; 4:28). Absalomís incestuous relation (2Sa 16:22), yet God declares He willed it (2Sa 12:12). The destruction of the Temple God calls His own work (Isa 28:21). The curses of Shimei proceed from Godís will and command (2Sa 16:10,11). And there are many other examples.
2. How does Godís impulse come to pass in men?
Godís will is the cause of all things and it is therefore to be expected that the evil works of Satan, demons and men are because God willed it to be. In Scripture there are many examples of such: of over-sleep (1Sa 26:12), of physical and spiritual blindness (Isa 29:14; Joh 12:37-41), of madness (Rom 1:20-24,28), of good and bad (Isa 45:7; Amo 3:6) of hardness of heart (Exo 9:12; 10:20,27; 11:10; 14:8; 14:17; Deu 2:30; Jos 11:20;), of restraining (Exo 4:21), of hate (Psa 105:25), of evil spirits (1Sa 16:14; 2Co 4:4), of error (2Th 2:11), of false prophets and lies (Eze 14:9), of giving men over to their evil mind (Rom 1:28,29).
3. Godís will is a unity.
There are men (who object to this doctrine) say that God is contradictory. For on one hand He wills evil, yet on the other He forbids the same evil in His law. As has been shown above from Scripture, that God wills and therefore permits evil to occur, and hence He is the Author of them, of this there can be no doubt. Yet on account of manís mental incapacity they cannot grasp how Godís wills something which He forbids. Thus believers ought not to nullify what Scripture clearly teaches because they cannot understand it. Rather they ought to acknowledge that:
Isa 55:8 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Isa 55:9 For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
1Ti 6:15 Which in his times he shall shew, [who is] the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
1Ti 6:16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom [be] honor and power everlasting. Amen.
1Ti 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
Thus whatever is done (even those things which appear against His will), it is done only by the will of God.
4. Even when God uses the deeds of the godless for His purposes, He does not suffer reproach.
There are men (who object to this doctrine) say that God is not just. For, they say, if God is the Author of all wickedness, how can men be justly condemned if they carry out what God has decreed? Yet, the solution is clear, for wicked men (from their viewpoint) do what they do not because they want to obey Godís will, rather they obey their own wicked will. And hence God judges them, not what they are able or not able to do, but rather what they have willed to do.
Scripture clearly teaches this is so. For again, when Shimeiís cursed David, he was not (from his viewpoint) doing that because he wanted to obey Godís will, rather he did that because he wanted to. And also David, did not commend Shimeiís obedience to Godís will, rather he recognized that God was using Shimei as punishment toward him and patiently endured it.
Another example is that of Jehuís sons. All Jehuís sons were exterminated and Jehu rightly reports that this was done because God had willed it so, yet Jehu does not justify the exterminators but rebukes them.