Boice: The Word of God

Most systematic theologies start with the doctrine of the Word of God or the Bible, as that is the foundation of all the doctrines. What we believe about the Word of God will determine what we believe about God.  2 Timothy 3:16 is usually used as a foundational verse for the doctrine of Scripture: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (ESV). “…the Scriptures are the direct result of the breathing out of God.” and “…product of a specifically Divine operation.”

This of course leads to the authority of Scripture since it is from God. “For a proper perspective on Scripture and for a valid understanding of revelation there must be a constant interworking of these factors: an infallible and authoritative Word, the activity of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying that Word and a receptive human heart. No true knowledge of God takes place without these elements.” The Bible is our final authority. This is the doctrine of Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone.

The subject of the Bible is Jesus. “…the object of the Bible in each of its parts is to point to Jesus…” One of the themes is our sin and thus our need for rescue. “The truth of our sin and need is expounded in the Bible because the Bible is also able to point to Christ as the solution to the dilemma.” It also shows a God of love who redeems sinners.

“The power of the living Christ operating by means of the Holy Spirit through the written Word changes lives. This has been true throughout history. It is a powerful proof that the Bible is indeed the Word of God.” Boice has a whole chapter on the proof of the Scriptures. Some of the arguments for the truth of God’s Word include: “the claims of the Scriptures themselves”, “the testimony of Jesus”, “the doctrinal and ethical superiority of the Bible to all other books”, and “the power of the Bible to affect us as we read it.” Another reason given that arises out of arguments from a Puritan Thomas Watson is “the biblical writers would not have claimed divine origin for a book they knew to be purely their own.” There is also the unity of the Bible even in its vast diversity of 66 books. Its historical accuracy continues to be shown again and again. The fulfillment of prophecies and the preservation of the Bible down through the centuries are other proofs of the validity of the Bible.

Boice also spends some time dealing with the inerrancy of Scripture and modern criticism. Then he gives a brief overview on how to interpret the Bible.

The next section of Boice is on the attributes of God.

Boice: The Knowledge of God

In Part 1 of Boice’s Foundations of the Christian Faith, he talks about the knowledge of God. In John 3 as Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, “Jesus taught him that true knowledge begins with spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God, and that this is to be found in God’s revelation of himself in the Bible and in Jesus’ own life and work, the work of the Savior.” It is easy to possess knowledge, but having knowledge is not enough. Is it making a difference in how we live? “…the kind of knowledge that integrates information and thereby gives meaning to life is strangely absent.”

Two approaches to knowledge have been through reason and through emotional experience. Reason alone “can tell us what is, but it cannot tell us what ought to be.” Values and ethics are lost. In emotional experience, “the experience does not last. It is transient…Eventually this ends either in self-destruction or acute disillusionment…experience has no rational content.” A third approach is provided in Christianity, “The basis of this third approach is that there is a God who has created all things and who himself gives his creation meaning.” God is a personal Being. “For when the Bible speaks of knowing God it means being made alive by God in a new sense (being “born again”), conversing with God (so that he becomes a friend), and being profoundly changed in the process.”

God reveals Himself to us through the Scriptures. But why is it important to know God? Boice outlines the reasons:
“knowledge of God is important, for only through the knowledge of God can an individual enter into what the Bible terms eternal life.”
“knowledge of God is important because…it also involves knowledge of ourselves.”
“knowledge of God also gives us knowledge of this world: its good and its evil, its past and its future, its purpose and its impending judgement at the hand of God.”
“A fourth reason the knowledge of God is important is that it is the only way to personal holiness.”
“Finally, the knowledge of God is important in that it is only through a knowledge of God that the church and those who compose it can become strong.”

So knowing God is important. “The Bible declares that the problem is not God’s but ours. Therefore, the problem is solvable. It is solvable because God can take, and actually has taken, steps to reveal himself to us, thereby providing us with the missing key to knowledge.” God has provided the solution for us by revealing Himself to us. “Men and women do not naturally know, obey or worship God. But they do have an awareness of him.” Romans 1 tells us that man can perceive God through creation and nature around him. Yet he still forsakes knowing God. “…the wrath of God is displayed against the natural man…man has willfully rejected God…this rejection has taken place in spite of a natural awareness of God possessed by each person.” So God is revealed in nature, yet man still rejects Him. “…the fault is not in a lack of evidence but in their irrational and resolute determination not to know him.” “The point is that the revelation of God in nature is sufficient to convince anyone of God’s existence and power, if the individual will have it.”

But man deliberately suppresses the truth about God because he does not want the accountability. “Sufficient knowledge has been given to all people to cause them to turn from themselves and their own way of life to God and so at least to begin to seek him.” But they don’t like this truth and so they suppress it. “His holiness calls our own sinfulness into question.” “To know God would require change.” Ah, there’s the rub! So man invents his own substitutes for God, even if it is himself. “The universality of religion on this planet is not due to men and women being seekers after God, as some have argued. Rather it is because they will not have God, yet need something to take God’s place.” So though they suppress the truth about God, they have a need for something to fill that role. “But if they come humbly, recognizing that they indeed have rejected what has been clearly revealed about God in nature, that they are without excuse, that God’s wrath justly hangs over them, then God will work in their lives.”

Next up in Boice is “The Word of God”.


Blogging through Boice

I have started reading through James Montgomery Boice’s Foundations of the Christian Faith. It is an introductory systematic theology and very readable. As a way of introducing theology, I thought it might be helpful to blog through this book as I read it. It is divided into sections:

Book 1 – The Sovereign God
Part 1: The Knowledge of God
Part 2: The Word of God
Part 3: The Attributes of God
Part 4: God’s Creation

Book 2 – God the Redeemer
Part 1: The Fall of the Race
Part 2: Law and Grace
Part 3: The Person of Christ
Part 4: The Work of Christ

Book 3 – Awakening to God
Part 1: The Spirit of God
Part 2: How God Saves Sinners
Part 3: The Life of the Christian
Part 4: The Work of God

Book 4 – God and History
Part 1: Time and History
Part 2: The Church of God
Part 3: A Tale of Two Cities
Part 4: The End of History

Join us as we dive into learning about theology, the study of God.

The Forgotten Virtue of Christian Contentment | by John Fast

…for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” – Philippians 4:11 We live in a time of rampant discontentment, and no wonder. Virtually everywhere we turn we are told we need something more to make us happy; that what we have is not good enough, that we need – or rather …

Source: The Forgotten Virtue of Christian Contentment | by John Fast

Neglected Trinity

The importance of the Trinity

The Outspoken TULIP

“God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!” Hymn singers will undoubtedly recognize that majestic closing line from “Holy, Holy, Holy,” a hymn that praises the magnificence of God by exploring various aspects of His glory. Yet, could our familiarity with the hymn (for Shamrock Shadedthose of us who still sing hymns) cause us to gloss over its doctrinal declaration that the one and only God exists as three distinct Persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? And how often do we think about the Trinity anyway (except briefly when and if we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”)?

The doctrine of the Trinity seems to receive very little attention in our present time, perhaps because our inability to “wrap our heads around it” embarrasses us. Of course our analogies of H2O (water, ice and vapor) and shamrocks fall short of providing adequate explanations of  how He could exist as three…

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