My beliefs about life are Christian, meaning they are based on the Holy Bible, traditionally used by the Christian church.
Setting out I thought I would develop a simple description of my belief. The more I considered it the more I found I need to say more to be clear and comprehensive. Leaving any particular detail out, other than to omit explanatory examples, seems to leave a void which cries out for an answer. Thus, a printed copy describing what I believe is about 5 pages long. Serious consideration of what one really believes about life is not for the faint hearted or the lazy.
A simple short true statement of my belief about life is that reality is as it is described in the Bible. The Bible is about the foundation of knowledge about reality, about right and wrong, about why the world is the way it is, about how the problems of this world can be solved, and about where we are headed. This seems fairly simple, and it is. Yet, the Bible’s description of reality, knowledge and morality is also vast.
For those without time to consider this statement in its whole, headings are included. You can use the headings but be aware each part of this statement impacts the other parts. Under the heading, “What is the nature of reality? — About God?” one might expect to get a fairly comprehensive statement about what I believe about God. If so, you will/should be disappointed, for this entire statement of belief is about God. This also true of what is written under the headings of Mankind, Stuff, Creation, Rebellion, Reconciliation, etc. Use the headings but this statement is intended to be understood as a whole. Even so, I am a mere man, with the abilities God has endowed me with, and likely, at least in some points, my beliefs need to be corrected by God. I trust such corrections will always be congruent with a right understanding of His (God’s) word.
(You can click on the headings to jump to the section.)
- What is the nature of reality?
- What is the nature of knowledge?
- What is the nature of morality, of right and wrong?
- What about sickness and suffering.
- How should we then live.
One’s beliefs about life can be described in terms of the nature of reality, knowledge and morality (morality refers to right and wrong). A right understanding of reality, knowledge, and morality will provide consistent answers to the fundamental questions, Where did we come from? What has gone wrong in the world? Where is the fix for what has gone wrong? and Where is history headed?
What is the nature of reality?
First is, “What is the nature of reality?” Philosophers call this metaphysics. “Meta” means “beyond” and “physics” means “nature.” Metaphysics refers to what is beyond the physical. It deals with questions like, “What is it to exist? What is the nature of man? Is he free? Is he good? What is the nature of the universe? Is it real or simply an appearance? Does God exist? What is God’s relationship to the universe? How do things change? What is history? What are the laws and concepts that govern reality? [back to menu]
Before there was anything else, there was God and nothing else. God was, as He now is and forever will be. There is nothing prior to God causing his existence. Everything, other than God, which exists is created by God and came to be from God and nothing else. There is nothing outside of Himself prolonging His existence or defining Him. God is other than everything else. For all else to come from Him, there can be no other Lord God than Him. He is one. And He has relationship. In Him, the one God, are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These persons are distinct persons. Yet, they are not three Gods. These three persons are of the same essence. This is hard to understand. So, be it. God, being God and other than all else, cannot be fully described by us.
God is a real, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, personal; in His being, in wisdom, in power, in holiness, in justice, in goodness, and in truth. Being infinite, means being everywhere present, at all times, Eternal means having no beginning and no end. Being unchangeable means all about God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. God will not be one thing today and something different tomorrow. God will not present things one way today and a another way tomorrow. His Word can be trusted. To be personal means all God says and does takes into account who He is interacting with. He listens. He cares. He responds. His being is infinite, eternal, unchangeable and personal. His wisdom is infinite, eternal, unchangeable and personal. He is all wise. There is nothing not known to Him. His power is infinite, eternal, unchangeable and personal. So are His holiness, His justice and His goodness, along with all other attributes which rightly describe God. Being infinite also means God is not limited to a particular space. As such, He is spiritual not embodied. God is truth. He is the author of truth. Truth is eternal and unchangeable. God defines what is true, real, and right. Right is rooted in God’s love. God is Love.
Love can only be expressed within a relationship. Love cannot be packaged and set on a shelf. Were there is no relationship love cannot exist. The fact God is love supports the truth of “one God being three persons.” One God has within Himself relationship between His three Persons, who love each other and, by loving each other, are able to love others. God, who is love and has love within Himself, loves.
God defines what is true, real and right. What is not right is wrong. To be wrong is to be against God.
God does not love indiscriminately. Being holy, just, good and true, God cannot simply love what is unholy, unjust, not good, or untrue. God created all things good,. As we will see, when we consider the nature of right and wrong, it is those who turn away from God and His way who are unholy, unjust, not good and untrue. To mankind, who have turned away from God, God makes a way to reach out in love, without simply loving their unholy, unjust, not good, and untrue ways.
All of these things about God are difficult to understand. This should not create concern but, rather, should be expected, for God being infinite and eternal, outside of, and thus other than, all else, cannot be fully described by mankind. As I was writing this section I was listening to St. Augustine’s Confessions. I found his attempt to give a description of the reality of God interesting and have included it in a foot note below.[a] – [back to menu]
God created all things that exist other than Himself by voluntarily speaking them into existence, as He willed. God did not create by arranging an already existing soup of randomly organized molecules over a long period of time. Or by following a predetermined set of over arching physical laws. All that exists came into existence by the power of God, in the space of six days, just as He thought it, willed it and spoke it. He created the heavens, the earth, the plants and creatures, along with all of the laws which govern His creation. All He has created testify of who God is. He created physical non-living stuff and He created living stuff. All of the elements He created, which make up the heavens and the earth, as elements, are physical, non living stuff. He created in such a way that some some of these elements form physically alive bodies. These physically alive things can use elements of the physical stuff to make themselves bigger or reproduce them selves. Such physical life includes plants, animals and mankind. God created three kinds of creatures: angels, animals, and mankind. Angels are spiritual beings and have no physical body. The Both animals and mankind, God brought forth physically from the stuff of the created earth, giving them physical bodies, In addition to their physical body God also gave mankind a non-physical yet living spiritual souls, making mankind body-soul beings. Animals have a kind of soul but, unlike mankind, the souls of animals, when they die return, along with their bodies, to the dust of the earth and are no more, whereas, mankind’s souls exist forever. Angels are spirit being with no physical part. Spiritual beings, angels, and mankind’s spirit were created to have personal relationship with God. To have right relationship with God they need to love God.
On the earth God created a special garden where plants, animals and mankind could flourish together. He created two special trees which He placed in the midst of the garden. One was The Tree Of Life. The other was The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good and Evil. This tree God told Mankind not to eat from. [back to menu]
Unlike animals, which God brought forth from the earth, mankind was formed from the dust of the earth and then God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being having both a physical body and an eternal soul. Mankind were made with a likeness to God, while animals are not. God created mankind in His image (in God’s image), with the ability to love as God loves. They were created with the ability to commune with God, that is to talk to God and to understand when God speaks to them. As spiritual beings, mankind needs to love God to have a right and good relationship with Him. But mankind, as we know mankind, lost their ability to rightly love God when their first parents, Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God and ate from The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil, which God specifically told them not to eat from. Do to their rebellion, mankind’s ability to communicate with God was severely damaged. (This is not the end of the story. Read on!) [back to menu]
As well as animals and mankind, God created a large number or spirit beings called angels. Like God, angels do not have physical bodies. Unlike God, angels are not infinite, are not all powerful and are note all knowing. Angels were created to desire to know God’s plan and to work with God carrying it out. In doing so, angels show their love for God. As spiritual beings, angels need to love God in order to have relationship with Him. An important angel, named Lucifer or Satan, decided, rather than to love and serve God, that he wanted to be God. He rebelled against God. a number of angels decided to follow Satan rather then God. These are what are known as evil spirits. Angles and evil spirits are real and at work in the world. [back to menu]
God upholds and governs all He has created. Along with all He created, God also created a set of natural laws designed to govern how the physical parts of creation interact with each other. An example of such law is the law of gravity. He did not simply create and leave creation to run on its own according to these natural laws. God also governs His creation supernaturally. Through His supernatural and natural law, God upholds and governs all He has created ,such that all comes to pass according to His Word. All things God says in His Word have come to pass, or will come to pass, just as He said they will. What God says can be depended upon. What He says will happen will happen. [back to menu]
What is the nature of knowledge?
The second question that needs to be answered is what is the nature of knowledge? Philosophers call this epistemology. “Episteme” means “knowledge” and “logos” means “word or discourse.” Epistemology refers to what we can know. It deals with questions like, what is the nature of belief and knowledge? What are the standards that justify beliefs? How do we know what we know? What proof of evidence is acceptable? What are the proper procedures for science and discovery? Another way to phase this is, “How do we know what is true?”
All there is to be truly known is revealed by God. We know what is true reality because God, who created it, reveals it to us. This revelation is God’s personal, supernatural act of self-communication by which He actively makes Himself and His will known to mankind. God reveals Himself indirectly through His creation and directly through His Word. In creation, including all things and how they “naturally” relate to each other, God shows His eternal power and His divine nature, leaving mankind with no excuse but to know God. Although God’s creation clearly reveals who He is, mankind due to what they lost as a consequence of the rebellion of their first parents, Adam and Eve, no longer easily see what God has revealed about Himself through creation.
God also makes Himself known directly by special revelation through His written word, as it is opened to believers by the Holy Spirit. And, lastly, through incarnational revelation, as the Word revealed to believers in Jesus Christ, who being God took on a human body and lived among mankind. God, who is one God, has revealed His three persons, including the Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. These three persons are united in the work of creation, the work of salvation, and in the consummation or reconciling of all things to Himself. As mentioned mankind fell, brought death to themselves and lost right relationship with God. This broke the goodness of creation. We will see that God brings salvation from this death and will, in due time, reconcile what is broken back to and even beyond its original created goodness.
Confirmation of the truth of what God has revealed is found in the fact that, as history unfolds, what God has said will happen happens. Also, science research repeatedly reveals evidence consistent with this truth. Unlike evolutionary theory for the origin & purpose of the world, which has had to be repeatedly adjusted, as facts inconsistent with the theory come to light: the story of creation remaining the same is supported by the facts and continues to provides a coherent explanation of reality. [back to menu]
What about the nature of morality, of right and wrong?
The third area to address is, what is the nature of morality? (of right and wrong, of obedience and rebellion) How can what is known be used rightly or wrongly? It is important to understand right and wrong is not simply decided by and made known to us by God. Unlike natural laws, which are part of creation, there is a moral law, which is the definition of right and wrong. The moral law, rather than being created, is defined by the very nature of God, by who God is.
As God is unchangeable, right and wrong are unchangeable. What is morally right today cannot be wrong tomorrow and what is morally wrong today cannot be right tomorrow. God’s will, which is rooted in His being and His nature, is the standard of what is right for man. The law of God is basically a testimony of who God is and who He is not. A review of the commandments of God, found in the Bible, reveals much about God. Consider the Lord’s commandment to honour one’s father and mother. This can be observed in God, the Son, honouring God, the Father. The command not to kill, which contains the instruction to not be angry without a cause, is seen in the fact that when the Lord God does show anger it is only with good and just cause. The command not to commit adultery is seen in the fact the Lord God will never write a certificate of divorce to His Bride, the church. Also, the Lord does not take what is not His to take. He never lies. And so on. If everyone followed the instruction of the Lord perfectly, then all would be good, as God is good. Since the commands of God proceed from His very nature, from who God is, those who have come to love God also love His commands and desire to keep them. [back to menu]
As stated earlier, Mankind are created in God’s image. God is love and God loves. Mankind are created to love. Love encompasses a choice to accept, obey and desire the best for the one who is loved, no matter what. God’s desire for mankind is that they love Him. Loving God includes accepting who God is, which includes accepting and obeying His commandments. The test and evidence of Mankind’s love for God is displayed in man’s choice to obey God. For obedience to be an act of love, the possibility of disobedience necessarily exists. This choice was present in the beginning as seen in the command given to man not to eat of the fruit of The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil. Man had a choice to eat or not to eat. To disobey this command necessarily represented, at heart, rebellion against God. If man chose to disobey, he was told it would result in death, which ultimately includes eternal separation from God and everything good. [back to menu]
Those who choose to rebel against God, as displayed in their rebellion against God’s ways, against His law, are separated from His goodness. This is true for all spiritual beings including angels and mankind. Animals do not have the ability to carry out such rebellion and thus live withing the bounds they were created to live within. Satan, created as an angel, a spirit being, rather than living in the joy of serving God, wanting instead to be God, rebelled and has ever since been trying to take God’s rightful place. Satan, led some of the angels with him in this rebellion. These are the evil spirit beings. Yes, Satan, and evil spirits exist and work in the heavens and the earth at trying to turn the hearts of mankind to rebellion against God. They have no part in God’s goodness. As such they have no light and no life, as God is light and life. Their dominion is that of darkness and they promote death rather than life. In their rebellion they have separated themselves from all things good.
Satan, as the other evil spirits do, encouraged Adam and Eve to rebel against God. And Mankind, in their first parents, Adam and Eve, chose to disobey God. As a result, they lost their good relationship with God and entered into a state of damnation, a state in which they cannot enter into the presence of God. By their disobedience mankind lost the lives they were created with and were left dead in sin, unable to make things right again, just as someone dead cannot bring themselves back to life. They lost their affection for andtheir desire to love, God. In a sense they became like Satan, wanting to be God, rather than live in the joy of serving God. This change of heart now affects everything mankind does. With disobedience to God came death. Mankind, who were created to live, now face death, of both the body and the soul. Left in this condition, after physical death will follow a spiritually dead existence totally separated from God and all things good.
Mankind have children. Unable to pass anything on to their children, except what they have, all mankind, descending from Adam and Eve, are in the same state, in the state of being dead in sin and unable to make things right again. This is why evil continues to affect so much of what happens in the world. It is why some leaders attempt to control and force people to follow their ways. It is why we so easily find ourselves doing things we know, in our heart, we ought not to do. Being spiritually dead in sin, given opportunity, all in some way do the wrong things and, as sinners, fall short of God’ way. The wages of sin is death.
This does not mean the image of God, mankind was created to be is no more. Because of sin the image of God is marred but it is still present in mankind. As such mankind remains a unique and special part of God’s creation. [back to menu]
God’s Love does not fail. Reconciliation:
Although mankind fails to love God, God’s love for mankind has not failed. God has a plan, an expression of His love, which He has carried out to reconcile some of mankind to Himself. He has willingly punished, in the place of man, His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who being God, willingly, humbling Himself, took on human flesh to become a man. Being God, He was able to, unlike mankind, to live as a perfect man. As a perfect man Jesus could take upon Himself the sin of those who believe and then, upon the cross, suffered the fullness of God’s wrath, the punishment that sin requires, upon Himself, making it right for Him to give His righteousness to those who believe. This makes it possible for those who believe to once again stand, comforted, in the presence of the Holy Lord God. [back to menu]
Since, mankind, who are dead, are unable on their own to see and believe this great plan of God, the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, works in the hearts of some of mankind, of God’s choosing, making them able to see and believe His great plan. Through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit they become able to see what they were not able to see. They now begin to see the truth of their rebellion against God and the truth of God’s love demonstrated in His great plan of salvation. Seeing how amazing God’s love is, they are drawn to Him. Seeing how terrible any rebellion against such love is, they repent of their sin, acknowledging it, confessing it and strive to turn from it to do what is right. They believe God and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and grow in love for God. The Holy Spirit does more than enables us to see and believe. He then fills those who believe in this great plan of God such that they are filled to overflowing with God’s love. Filled with the Holy Spirit of life, they love life. They love God’s word and His ways, which are always good. God’s love which fills them to over flowing, leads them to share God’s great plan of salvation and His love with anyone who will listen. [back to menu]
Also, as a result of mankind’s rebellion, all of God’s creation was adversely affected, such that creation is broken and has become, in many ways, a hard place to live. We have to work for our food. Bringing into and raising children in this world is hard. Mankind’s ways are destructive to the world. Part of the consequence and the solution to the problem of sin is that the world, as we know it, will not last forever. God’s plan involves, by the power of Jesus, more than just a reconciling of mankind to Himself. It also involves the reconciling of all of creation to Himself, as will be fully revealed when heaven and earth, as we know it, are replaced with a new heaven and a new earth. At the end of this age, the bodies of all of mankind who have believed God’s plan, having embraced it, accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as the only the way, truth and life, will not remain in the grave. Their dead bodies will raise from the grave and be renewed and join with their now living souls to continue forever in the presence of the Lord and all things good in the new heaven and the new earth. [back to menu]
All sin and evil will be dealt with:
God’s plan, in its fullness, not only includes the reconciling of a group of people to Himself to, one day, commune with Him in the new heaven and new earth for eternity, but it also includes the eternal banishment and separation of all sin and rebellion from Himself.
The bodies of mankind who do not come to believe and embrace God’s plan and do not accept the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, will also be brought forth from the grave. But they will not be renewed. In someway the brokeness of this life will remain with them. Their bodies will be united with their “dead” souls and they will have not part in the new heaven and the new earth. Instead, they will exist for eternity separated from God and all things good
The fall of mankind into the damned state of sin, was preempted by Satan and those created angels who followed Satan’s lead, rebelling against God and desiring to take God’s place rather than remain in the service of God into which they were created. Although man is responsible for his rebellion against God, Satan did what he could to encourage rebellion against God, as He continues to do. Satan, along with all the angels who also rebelled against God, and along with all of mankind who do not believe or desire God’s plan of salvation and reconciliation face a banishment including punishment of eternal existence in horrible darkness where there will be no quenching of thirst and no peace. Satan, the one who instigated mankind to rebel, along with all those who remain in rebellion against God, will have no part in the new heaven and the new earth, as nothing bad will be there. [back to menu]
What about sickness and suffering:
With this foundation of Truth; the truth about what is real, about how we truly know this, and the truth about right and wrong, including their consequences, a right understanding of why there are problems in the world, in our communities, families and even in our own lives, and at least a beginning appreciation of God’s solution, we should be able to understand and gain direction and begin to make good decisions, leading to good eternal outcomes, in all areas of our lives. Since, the foundation of truth is known from what the true God has revealed in His word, known to us as the Bible, one could describe this as living from a Biblical perspective. The the Byline of my blog is World View and Ethical Issues from a Biblical Perspective. We could go on and tackle any number of issues. For now we will apply truth to the issue of sickness and suffering.
Although God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them good, we learn, as a result of Adam sinning, brokenness and death became part of creation. As a result, as descendants of Adam, all of us will die. The death of mankind was not part of God’s good creation. Death is not natural. It came as the consequence of sin and rebellion. Before death comes, our bodies quit working properly. This is physical sickness. There is also emotion sickness tied into brokenness of our soul or spirit, also resulting from sin entering int the world. Since both sickness and death entered the world as a result of sin and should not be embraced as natural. They should, in a certain way, be fought against. An example of this brokenness is diabetes, where sugar metabolism fails to occur properly. Medicine can help but ultimately, during life on earth as we know it, diabetes has no cure. We see the same with heart disease. Over time our hearts fail. The person will ultimately die. An example of brokenness of soul can be depression an anxiety. These often have a spiritual bases more closely tied to sin but can slow be due to brokenness of our brain with physical origins. All sickness entered the world because sin entered the world but not all sickness, both physical and spiritual, are tied to specific sin. There are example if the Bible of both physical and spiritual sickness resulting from specific sin. There is also examples of sickness occurring independent of specific sin. God is the source of life. The Bible tells us one reason Jesus came was to heal sickness. While on earth, Jesus healed many and even brought some back from the dead. But these people eventually became sick again and died. Like the rest of creation, complete healing and restoration of our bodies and our souls will not occur until heaven and earth as we know it are replaced by a new heaven and a new earth. Our goal should not be to live forever in the brokenness of this world, or even to be forever remembered as we were on earth. We should look for a better place. Death of our bodies includes the end of sin and, for those who trust in the Lord, the beginning of life in the presences of the Lord and, in due time, in the new heaven and earth with completely restored new bodies. We should not seek death or embrace death as natural, but neither should we fear death. We should, if we believe and love God, look forward to the passing from this life to the next. [back to menu]
More important than overcoming physical sickness we should be concerned about loving the Lord. If we love Him we will desire to be directed by His commandments. Therefore we ought to be very concerned about killing, whether at the very beginning of life with IVF or near the end of life with organ transplantation. As we approach the use of these technologies, are we making plans to please ourselves or are we making plans based on loving the Lord and loving others? [back to menu]
Not yet complete……
 From The Confession of Saint Augustine – Chapter IV—The Majesty of God is Supreme, and His Virtues Inexplicable
What are You then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong, stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. You love, without passion; are jealous, without anxiety; repents, yet grieves not; are angry, yet serene; changes Your works, Your purpose unchanged; receives again what You find, yet did never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. You receives over and above, that You may owe; You pay debts, owing nothing; remit debts, losing nothing. And what had I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? Or what says any man when he speaks of You? Yet woe to him that speaks not, since mute are even the most eloquent.
Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.