A.D.: Anno Domini, Latin term meaning "in the year of the Lord." History's great divide is the coming of Jesus Christ into the world. Thus, A.D. is used to indicate that a date is after the birth of Christ.
APOSTLES: The word "apostle" comes from the Greek term that means "one sent out." The main use of the word in the Bible is in reference to the twelve men Jesus called and sent out to act in his name (Luke 6:13). They were also his special witnesses after he was raised from the dead. lt was necessary for them to have been with Jesus from the beginning of his public ministry until the time he returned to heaven so that they could be firsthand witnesses of what he said and did, and especially of his crucifixion and resurrection (Acts 1:21-26). In addition to the twelve apostles, Christ appeared in his resurrection body to Paul and he made him the special apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9; I Corinthians 15:1-10). It was through the apostles that the good news about Christ was taken to the world of the first century and some of them were used by God to complete the writing of his revelation, that is, the New Testament (John 16:12-15; 17:14-20).
B.C.: These letters, which mean "before Christ," are used to indicate that a date is prior to the coming of Christ into the world at his birth.
BAPTIZED, BAPTIZE, BAPTISM: To be baptized is to publicly acknowledge one's faith in Christ as Savior and Lord by being immersed in water (or in some instances, by having water placed on the head). Since acceptance with God is based solely on trust in the person of Christ who died for our sins and rose from the dead, water baptism is only a sign or outward indication of one's faith. It is not necessary for salvation (I Corinthians 1:10-18; 15:1-4). Water baptism should be distinguished from other kinds of baptism mentioned in the New Testament. For instance, the term is sometimes used to indicate spiritual identification with Christ by being incorporated into the organic unity or one body of all true believers in him (Ephesians 4:5). This spiritual baptism has nothing to do with water for it is accomplished by the Holy Spirit at the instant one believes in Christ (Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 12:12,13).
BIBLE: The Old and New Testaments which consist of 39 books and 27 books respectively. The 66 books of the Bible vary in size from one page to almost a hundred pages. The English word "Bible" comes from the Greek term which means "book." The Bible is the divinely inspired record of God's revelation, and as such it is the final authority for both faith and practice. The Bible teaches its own completeness (Revelation 22:18,19) and sufficiency (II Timothy 3:16,17). Portions of the Bible have been translated into 1400 languages, many of which have all of it.
CHRIST: "The anointed one," that is, the one whose coming was foretold in the Old Testament. The word "Christ" is from the Greek christos which is the equivalent of the Aramaic and Hebrew terms for messiah. Jesus fulfilled the specific identifying characteristics of the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament and his followers recognized this and proclaimed it (Matthew 16:13-17; Acts 2:36).
CHRISTIAN: "Christ's ones," that is, believers in Christ. In Acts 11:26 it says that "the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch." The word is often misused today, for it is frequently applied to people in the West simply because they are Westerners or because they are not Muslims or Hindus or Jews, etc. The fact is that many of the one billion people in the world who are considered Christians are so only nominally, that is, they have never truly placed their faith in Christ so that their lives have been morally and spiritually transformed. They need to turn from their sin and selfishness to Christ as much as any atheist, agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Parsee, Jew, etc. The word "Christian" should not be applied to Westerners alone any more than it should be applied to all Westerners. There are true Christians found in almost every nation in the world, and many, if not most, of them are non-Westerners.
CHURCH: Believers in Christ collectively, either universally - that is, all believers from the day of the church's beginning (Acts 2) to the day ot Christ's return which is still in the future (John 14:2,3; Acts 1:10,11; Ephesians 5:25-27) or locally - that is, the assembly of believers meeting in any particular place, whether in a home, a building, or in the open air (I Thessalonians 1:1; Philemon 1,2). The word "church" comes from the Greek kuriakon, which means "the Lord's." In the New Testament, however, the Greek word which is translated "church" is ekkleisia, meaning "a gathering" or "assembly." It is never used of a building or a politicized institution. The church in the New Tcstament is a living fellowship of believers in Christ who are seeking to serve him and to minister in love to mankind. Every believer is exhorted to meet with other believers in Christ for mutual encouragement and growth (Hebrews 10:25). It is to be noted that many so-called churches today have strayed from the teaching of the Bible, so that their beliefs and practices reflect mere human tradition and the commandments of men rather than the Word of God (Mark 7:9,13; I Timothy 4:1,2; II Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3,4; Revelation 3:14-21).
CROSS: The upright beam or stake on which people were executed in the ancient world, especially by the Romans. Jesus was put to death by this means, and a proportionately large section of the gospel accounts narrates the event. In certain contexts the word "cross" is used to refer to the redeeming death of Christ that is, what he did to reconcile us to God by giving his life freely and out of love for us. The apostles speak about the "message of the cross" (I Corinthians 1:18-31) as an abbreviated way to refer to the central events that constitute the gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4).
CRUCIFIXION: Execution on a cross. In the context of the Christian faith, it refers to the death of Christ on a cross. Crucifixion was a form of execution that was primarily reserved for the worst criminals. Therefore, the willingness of Christ to give his life for the sins of the world by this means indicates his amazing humility and his willingness to identify with the lowest human beings. His crucifixion does not mean that God was defeated or that God is weak because he allowed Jesus to die at the hands of wicked men. Some of the prophets of Old Testament times became martyrs by violent deaths, and in the New Testament one can find the account of the brutal beheading of the Prophet Yahya, or John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12). But that did not mean that God was weak or unable to deliver them. No one is stronger than God. It is a question of God's will. Out of his love for us, and with the voluntary, self-giving love of Christ, God demonstrated his power by the crucifixion. To sacrifice oneself for another requires great strength. "Love is as strong as death" (Song of Solomon 8:6), and there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for the sake of others (John 15:13). The crucifixion reveals how much God loves us (I John 3:16; 4:9,10). Christ's resurrection showed that he is stronger than death, and that his death was voluntary (John 10:18; Romans 1:3,4).
DEITY: The essential nature of God. It is blasphemous and idolatrous to use the word "deity" in reference to a mere creature, such as Mary, the mother of Jesus. "The deity of Christ" is a term that indicates that Christ's nature is divine from all eternity, although he took on human nature at his incarnation - while still retaining his deity (John 1:1,14,18). This use of the term is not blasphemous for it is not the attempt to make a creature the Creator or a mere man God. The question of blasphemy or idolatry can only be settled on the basis of the revealed nature of God. If God is not only one but a complex oneness of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then it is blasphemy to deny the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The fundamental question, then, is: What is the nature of God according to divine revelation? (Deuteronomy 29:29; John 1:18).
EVANGELISTIC: This word is based on the Greek term, euaggelion, which means "good news," and which is often translated "gospel" in the New Testament. "Evangelistic" refers to the proclamation of the good news of Christ's redeeming crucifixion and resurrection, and an "evangelist" is one who proclaims this message to those who are not believers so that they will understand God's message and turn from their sin and unbelief to faith in Christ (Ephesians 4:11; II Timothy 4:5).
FATHER: When used in reference to God, this term designates the first person of the Trinity. The notion that God begets children is not found in the Bible, and the term "Father" has no reference to such an alleged act. Since God is spirit, he does not enter into conjugal relations and he does not sexually reproduce. Such an idea is blasphemous and ridiculous and utterly opposed to the Bible. In the Old Testament, God is spoken of as Father with reference to the fact that he is the Creator of angels and men (Job 1:6; Malachi 2:10) and to indicate that he cares for men, especially the people of God, as a loving father (Isaiah 1:2; II Samuel 7:14; Psalm 103:13). A primary use of the term in the New Testament indicates the unique, eternal relation in which Christ stands to him (Matthew 11:27; John 3:16, 17:1-26). Also when one believes in Christ, God becomes his father, for he creates a new nature within the believer and a new relationship is effected (John 1:12,13; Galatians 4:6; I John 1:3; 3:1; Hebrews 12:7-10).
GOSPEL: This term translates the New Testament Greek, euaggelion, which means "good news." The gospel is summarized in I Corinthians 15:1-4. It is constituted by both the person of Christ and the facts of his sacrificial, redeeming death, burial, and resurrection as the only way to God (Acts 4:12). In Romans 1:16, the gospel of Christ is said to be the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.
GRACE: This is the important New Testament word that refers to God's love in Christ giving us the very opposite of what we deserve. Our sin and rebellion deserve God's judgment and wrath, but God comes to us in Christ because he loves us and wants us reconciled to him and he wants our fellowship eternally. "Grace" indicates what Christ has freely done for us by coming into the world, being born as a human being, dying on the cross, and rising from the dead so that we might be forgiven and accepted by God (John 1:14,17; II Corinthians 8:9). It also emphasizes the fact that forgiveness and acceptance with God cannot be merited or earned, but that they are given freely, on the basis of Christ's substitutionary death for us (Romans 3:23,24) It is not by works of any kind that we perform that we can enter into God's fellowship but only by undeserved love, known and experienced in Christ (Ephesians 2:8,9). Grace is exclusive, therefore, so that attempts to offer our works to God for salvation are incompatible with it. No one can be accepted with God on the basis of his efforts, character, or religiosity, for these fall in the category of works, which are irreconcilably opposed to God's grace (Romans 10:3,4; 11:6) when one trusts in them for salvation (Titus 3:5).
INCARNATION: "In the flesh," that is, Christ has come in the flesh, as a genuine human being (John 1:1,14; Romans 8:3; I Timothy 3:16; I John 4:2). This term also indicates that he did not begin to exist at his birth, for John 1:1 states his eternal pre-existence. He was the only one who existed before being born into this world (John 8:58). His coming was historical; it occurred in space-time, on the earth (Matthew 1:18-25; Galatians 4:4). He did not come into the world as an angel or as an apparition but by a physical, human birth. Jesus was truly a man, but without sin (II Corinthians 5:21). And he never ceased being divine, and so after his incarnation he had two natures (divine and human ). This is why he is called both God (John 20:28; II Peter 1:1) and man (I Timothy 2:6).
INJIL: This term transliterates the Arabic term for the Greek euaggelion, "good news." It is often wrongly thought to refer to a book that was revealed to Jesus. This misunderstanding rests primarily on the assumption that Jesus was essentially a prophet who received a divine book - similar to the Muslim belief that Muhammad received a book from heaven (i.e., the Quran). A careful examination of the facts yields a different conclusion. There is not the slightest evidence, either within the Bible or outside of it, that Jesus ever received such a book or that he wrote one. The Bible teaches that the person of Jesus Christ and his reconciling death for our sins, his burial, and resurrection constitute the "Injil," or the gospel (I Corinthians 15:1-4). The first four books of the New Testament are referred to as "gospels," and the meaning of this designation is that the account of Christ's life, death, and resurrection is found in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Thus, they are "the gospel according to Matthew," etc. There are not four gospels; rather, there are four harmonious, complementary accounts of the one and only gospel. The divine provision of these four accounts meets the high legal standards for credibility, as in a court of law (II Corinthians 13:1), and communicates the good news in terms that were easily understood by people of diverse backgrounds (e.g., Matthew's account was directed to the Hebrew people primarily, Mark's account was especially aimed at the Romans, etc. ). The accounts are based on firsthand experience with Christ or on the testimonies of eyewitnesses (John 19:35). They were written in the lifetime of his immediate followers (I Corinthians 15:6).
JESUS: The name that was given to the Messiah before his birth (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). It means "the Lord will save" (from the Hebrew "Joshua"), and thus it indicates the main purpose for which Christ came into the world. The Isa of the Quran is a radically different portrayal of Jesus from what the Bible presents. In the nature of the case, the Isa of the Quran could not save man from sin (for he is not divine and he did not die or rise from the dead), but the Jesus of the Bible can and does save (Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 7:25; I John 4:1-13).
JOHN: In the usage under consideration, this term refers to the fourth book of the New Testament, "The Gospel according to John." He was one of the twelve apostles chosen by Christ. The significance of the asterisk in this connection is to indicate the characteristic manner in which references to the Bible are made. "John 3:16" designates the book (John), the chapter (3), and the verse (16).
JUSTIFICATION: The declaration that a guilty person is acquitted or pronounced righteous. The Bible teaches that all human beings are guilty before God. All of us have rebelled against him and have broken his law (Romans 3:10-19). This brings condemnation (Ephesians 2:3). When one trusts in Christ, however, God declares him to be righteous, and therefore he passes from condemnation to acceptance, from death to life (John 5:24). Christ's righteousness is given to the believer, not by works but by faith (Galatians 2:16; 3:10-14). In this way God is both just and the justifier of those who believe. By trusting in Christ we are justified freely, that is, we are fully and completely accepted as righteous by God and we have peace with him (Romans 3:24,25; 4:5; 5:1,2). God justifies sinners on a just basis, which is the redeeming death of Christ who bore the penalty of sin and the broken law of God in himself on the cross (Galatians 3:13; II Corinthians 5:21). The power of his death to bring us to God was demonstrated in his resurrection from the dead (Romans 4:25). The believer in Christ can know, even now, that there is no condemnation in store for him - in time or eternity (Romans 8:1). This is the great question for every human being to face: How can I be justified before God? Will I hold on to my own "righteousness," which the Bible labels "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6), or will I turn from my self-righteousness and pride to receive the gift of God's righteousness which is provided only in Christ (Philippians 3:9; Romans 10:3,4,9,10; I Corinthians 1:30,31)?
LORD: This term, which translates the Greek word kyrios, has a variety of meanings in the New Testament. The basic idea that they have in common is that of possessing authority. In some instances it is a polite form of address that expresses courtesy and respect. Sometimes it means the master of a slave or of a household, and at other times it is used of civil authorities. It is also used to refer to God (Matthew 9:38; 11:25; Acts 17:24) and for Christ (Matthew 8:2,8; Luke 11:1; Acts 1:6; 2:36; Romans 1:4; Philippians 2:5-11). When Christ was referred to or addressed as "Lord" during his public ministry, it is unlikely that those who used the term understood its full significance or even intended to ascribe deity to him. Even his disciples, at the beginning, did not understand the true scope of its significance. This was as Christ intended, for there were many things that they were to learn only gradually (John 16:12-15). Only after his resurrection from the dead did his disciples understand that all authority was his (Matthew 28:18), although they saw some indications of his power in his miracles and in his authority over nature, man, and demons. Today, if one begins with the recognition that Christ's lordship means his authority as prophet and teacher, and then, with an open mind and sincere heart, proceeds to study his words and deeds, he may also come to understand that his lordship also signifies his exalted rule as Messiah and his divine glory as Lord of all (Acts 10:36; Revelation 17:14; John 20:28). To acknowledge Christ as Lord, in the true meaning of the term, is necessary for acceptance with God (Romans 10:9-13).
MESSIAH: This term comes from the Hebrew word that means "anointed one." It refers to the redeemer whose coming was promised in Old Testament times. After the time of King David, he was especially spoken of as the royal descendant of David who would establish a universal kingdom on earth - the rule of God in which peace and righteousness would reign (Daniel 9:24,25; Isaiah 9:6,7; 11:1-10). The Old Testament foretold both his suffering death and his glorious reign, and the New Testament shows how the former was fulfilled in Jesus at his first coming and how the latter will be fulfilled at this second coming (Luke 24:25-27). Peter and the other apostles recognized that he was the Messiah, i.e., the Christ (Matthew 16:13-17), and after his resurrection and return to heaven, they proclaimed his messiahship in Jerusalem and throughout the world (Acts 2:36; Colossians 1:5,6,27,28).
MINISTRY: "Service," that is, the responsibility and work that God commits to believers in Christ, each according to the special capacity that God gives for instructing and helping others. Service for Christ is not to be done out of a desire to achieve merit or on the basis of a legalistic obligation. It is to be done out of love and gratitude to God for what he has done for us in Christ (Romans 12:1; John 21:15,16; II Corinthians 4:1-6).
NEW TESTAMENT: The second part of the Bible. It consists of 27 small books. They are called "The New Testament" because they focus on the new covenant (testament) which was effected by the death and resurrection of Christ (Luke 22:20). The new covenant (testament) both fulfills and contrasts with the old covenant (II Corinthians 3:7-17).
RECONCILE: This term refers to the change in our relationship with God from rebellion and enmity to acceptance and peace through Christ's death on the cross (II Corinthians 5:19). All human beings are in a state of estrangement and opposition to God, and thus we are all in need of reconciliation to him (Romans 8:7). Since he loves us, he provided the reconciler, Jesus Christ, who is our peace (Ephesians 2:14-18). No one else can reconcile us to God, because no one else took our sins on himself and gave his life for us but Jesus Christ (John 14:6; I Peter 3:18; Romans 5:1,8).
RESURRECTION: The bringing back to life of someone after death. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, after three days in the tomb, is an integral part of the gospel and is an event of supreme importance (I Corinthians 15). He rose in a glorified body and could be seen and touched by others (Luke 24:36-43). He showed himself alive, after his resurrection, for forty days, giving his disciples many convincing proofs (Acts 1:3; I John 1:1,2). At the end of the forty days of post-resurrection appearances, he ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). He will come again and raise from the dead all true believers in him and those believers who are alive will also be caught up in the air by him to ever be with the Lord (I Corinthians 15:51-57; I Thessalonians 4:13-18).
REVELATION: This term refers to the disclosure of what is hidden or unknown. Man is incapable, because of finitude and sin, of penetrating to the nature of ultimate reality. He can know about God only by revelation, that is, God must make himself known to man if there is to be true and accurate knowledge of him and his will. Nature, history, and conscience bear witness to God (Romans 1:18-20), but man suppresses this awareness in the interests of sin. God has also revealed himself in special acts, manifestations, and words, but his supreme revelation is in Jesus Christ. Since God is personal, it is not surprising that he would reveal himself in a person and as a person. And it is not surprising that this form of revelation surpasses all other means that he uses to reveal himself (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-8). The Bible is the unique, inspired revelation of God, not in the sense that it was handed down piecemeal from heaven, but in the sense that God operated on the minds and wills of certain men (prophets) in order to lead them to write his word (II Peter 1:21; II Timothy 3:16,17). While he preserved them from error in accomplishing this particular task, he did not mechanically dictate his word in disregard of their unique personalities. The result is that God has revealed his truth in words and sentences, but in doing so he used the personalities and vocabulary of the writers. Thus, the Bible is the sole personal, propositional, historical disclosure of the person and will of God, with the redemption of man and the glory of God the chief purpose for the divine communication in Scripture - and it is to be believed (Hebrews 11:6).
RIGHTEOUSNESS: That which conforms to a standard. In the Bible, that standard is God's character of holiness. Apart from righteousness, one cannot be accepted by God (Matthew 5:8,20). But no one is capable of attaining the standarcl of God's righteousness (Romans 3:10-23). The failure of people to understand the absoluteness of God's righteousness and his requirement that we conform to it leads to the prideful attempt to establish one's own righteousness (Romans 10:3). This attempt is itself another expression of sin and unrighteousness. The only way to meet God's requirement of righteousness is by receiving God's gift of righteousness (Romans 3:21,22). This gift is received in Christ alone (Romans 6:23; II Corinthians 5:21). Receiving Christ into one's life means that one's heart is purified by faith (Acts 15:9). But the reception of Ghrist and the gift of righteousness in him does not leave the believer unchanged (I Corinthians 6:9-11). The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God, and by his practice of wickedness he demonstrates that he does not truly trust in Christ, regardless of his profession of belief (Matthew 7:21-23; Revelation 21:8). It is important to see that the lack of a wicked way of life does not merit salvation. Rather, a lawless, sinful pattern of life indicates that one does not have Christ abiding in his heart (James 2:18-20; I John 3:14,15). In spite of the profession one makes, then, it is the way one lives that declares the true state of his heart.
SACRAMENTAL: Although this term is used in various ways - some of them mutually incompatible - its meaning in the instance under consideration is that a religious rite or ceremony is thought to be a channel of grace or a means of salvation. For example, when water baptism is interpreted as the means for cleansing one of sin or guilt, or as a necessary requirement for acceptance with God, it is thereby wrongly understood as sacramental. In this sense, anything that is sacramental is a "work," that is, something that one does or depends upon for forgiveness and acceptance with God - and as such it is condemned by the Bible as contrary to the free grace of God in Christ (Galatians 1:6-9; 2:21). Water baptism is a sign or outward declaration of one's trust in Christ and allegiance to him as Messiah and Lord. It is not contributory to salvation. The only other ordinance, the Lord's supper (also called "the breaking of bread"), is a sign too. The latter is the special way in which believers in Christ are to remember his death for them and to show forth that death until he comes the second time (I Corinthians 11:23-26). Some institutional forms of Christianity have developed human traditions that either consider these ordinances to be sacraments in the unbiblical sense indicated, or they have added other rites and ceremonies which they consider sacraments. This has led to confusion and error, tragically leading people to trust in things other than Christ the Savior (John 6:27-29). Sacramentalism is usually coupled with the unbiblical view that certain men are priests and have a special authority from God to perform the "sacraments." According to the New Testament, there is no priestly class (Matthew 23:1-12; I Timothy 2:5; I Peter 2:5). Such distortions of New Testament Christianity have driven many people away from the Christian faith because they confuse it with these institutional forms that are characterized by superstition, arrogance, and blasphemy.
SALVATION: This is a term that translates a New Testament word which, in its primary spiritual sense, sums up the entirety of God's deliverance of the believer in Christ from sin and its consequences to eternal life and its glories. By his death and resurrection, Christ saves us from guilt and the spiritual death that holds all men in bondage (Ephesians 2:1-9), from the dominion of sin over our daily lives in the present (John 8:34,36; 10:10; Romans 6:14-23), and in the future from all the consequences of sin (Romans 13:11). The believer is delivered into the kingdom of God and the most glorious of all positions, that of a son of God, sharing the gift of the divine nature and becoming an heir of God and a co-heir with Christ (Romans 8:16,17). Even though we will always remain only human beings, we will be made to conform to Christ's character (I John 3:2).
SERMON ON THE MOUNT: This is a term that is used for the discourse that Jesus gave in Matthew 5-7. In it he speaks with divine authority and indicates that he is fulfilling the Old Testament. He also intensifies the demands of the moral law and states the highest ethical principles. The effect of the discourse is to heighten awareness of sin and failure so that we might be shown our desperate need of the Savior whose death and resurrection provide us with the righteousness that we could never attain by our efforts (Galatians 3:24).
SINNER: The Bible teaches that every human being, with the exception of Jesus Christ, is a rebel against God and that all of us fail to conform to the character and will of God in thought, word, and deed (Romans 3:23; John 8:34). That we are all sinners is seen in our attitudes of pride and unbelief, and these rebellious attitudes toward God manifest themselves in wicked acts (James 1:13-15). This destroys our relationship with God (Isaiah 59:2; I John 1:5,6). We are sinners by choice and by practice, for sin dwells within us - although God originally made man innocent and without sin (Romans 5:12; 7:20,23). Sin is the most serious of all human problems, and it cannot be removed or forgiven apart from the sacrificial death of Christ (Hebrews 9:22; I Timothy 1:15; John 1:29; I John 1:7). Nothing we can do or say can bring the forgiveness that Christ alone can provide (Acts 4:12). God commands us to turn from trusting in ourselves and every error to trusting in him as he has come in the person of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30,31; I John 2:23).
SON OF GOD: This is a descriptive title given to Jesus Christ in the Bible to indicate that he is unique in his relationship to God the Father and that he is one with him in his very nature and being (John 5:17-26). It is a serious misunderstanding to think that the term implies that Jesus was produced by God cohabiting with Mary. The Bible is absolutely opposed to such a notion. The Son of God has always existed and he came into the world by the miraculous means of the virginal conception and birth. Even the Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Christ's incarnation, refers to him as the eternal Son (Isaiah 9:6; Psalm 2:12; Micah 5:2). When the Bible refers to him as "the only begotten Son," the Greek word for "begotten" is monogenes, and it literally means "one of a kind." It does not refer to his conception or birth. It is used to declare his uniqueness. To deny that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, in this unique biblical sense, is to reject God the Father (I John 2:22,23). The resurrection of Christ provided decisive proof that he is the Son of God (Romans 1:3,4).
TRINITY: This word is used to express the teaching of the Bible about the nature of God. The Bible declares that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; I Corinthians 8:6). It also teaches that God's being is complex, that is, that there are personal distinctions within God's unitary being (John 1:1; II Corinthians 3:17; Zechariah 14:7; Psalm 110:1). The Bible speaks of the Father as God (John 5:18; I Corinthians 1:3, Galatians 1:1), the Son as God (John 1:1,18; 5:17,18; 20:28, Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:8; II Peter 1:1), and the Holy Spirit as God (II Corinthians 3:17,18; Acts 5:3,4). In addition to these explicit statements, the Bible refers to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within the same passage in a way that implies that they are equally personal, co-equal in essence, power, and attributes (Matthew 28:19; I Corinthians 12:3-6; II Corinthians 13:14). There are two main errors to be avoided in this connection: first, to hold that there are three gods, separate and distinct beings, is to deny the Trinity; secondly, to hold that God is without inner personal distinctions is also to deny the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity is unique. It is knowable only by revelation, and it so far surpasses human speculation that it defies the claim that it is the product of human invention. God is not three beings, he is one being. God is not one person; he is tri-personal. He is a unity with inner differentiation. Therefore, it is false to say that there is a contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity, that it implies that one is three in some illogical fashion. A logical contradiction consists of the affirmation and denial of the same meaning or proposition. But the doctrine of the Trinity does not say that one being is three beings or that three persons are one person. It asserts that one being is constituted by three persons. The meaning of "being" and "persons" is different; therefore, the doctrine does not affirm and deny the same thing. Of course the personal distinctions in the being of God transcend the limitations of human persons. Thus, there is a mystery that transcends the minds of all creatures. That is not only to be expected with reference to God, the highest of all beings, it is also the case that every other view of ultimate reality confronts mysteries as well. God's being is fully comprehensible to God alone (Romans 11:33-36).
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