This is the first attempt on my blog at describing my beliefs about life
My beliefs about life are Christian. By Christian, I mean, that my beliefs are based on the Holy Bible, that is traditionally used by the Christian church.
One’s beliefs about life or one’s view of reality can be described in terms of three questions which are: What is the nature of reality? What is the nature of knowledge? And what is the nature of morality or right and wrong? Rather than giving you a list of things I believe I plan to attempt to answer these three questions. By doing so, I hope you can see something of the shape, depth and foundation of my beliefs about life. To understand why I use this approach, refer to my blog post titled, “How to Define What You Believe.”
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?
In terms of the nature of reality, God is a real, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable (constant), personal being, in wisdom, in power, in holiness, in justice, in goodness, and in truth. Being infinite, means being everywhere present, at all times, and eternal, that is having no beginning and no end, God cannot be fully described by mankind, for men are finite, that is exist in one place at a time, and not eternal, having a beginning. In the beginning God was. The world and all things in it came into existence because God created them. Before all else was God. He created all things of substance and all things spiritual, except for God Himself, as He has no beginning. God is the one who defines what is true. God did not create by putting together or arranging an already existing soup of randomly organized molecules. All that exists came into existence by the power of God as He willed it or spoke it. The universe or world that He created is more than just stuff, He also created spiritual beings. The laws that truly govern and direct all that He has created come from God. Reality cannot be understood without knowing how to describe it. The understanding of the nature of reality is connected to 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?”
In terms of the nature of this knowledge, I can know what I believe because God has revealed it. All there is to know and to be known is revealed to us by God. All truth is revealed to us by God. This revelation is the personal, supernatural act of God’s self-communication by which He actively makes Himself and His will known to mankind. God reveals Himself or makes Himself known indirectly through His created order, including all things and how they “naturally” relate to each other. This shows His eternal power and Divine nature, leaving mankind with no excuse but to know Him. God also makes Himself known directly by special revelation through His written word, as it is opened to believers by the Holy Spirit, and by incarnational revelation, as the word revealed to believers in Jesus Christ, such that believers love Him because of His love that is displayed to them through His great plan. God has revealed to us His three persons, the person of the Father, the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, and the person of the Holy Spirit, who are one God, the triune God. 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 will be discussed shortly.
Before moving on, I want to more fully describe the reality that God has made known. Before any stuff was, as we know it, there was God and nothing else. God was. Then, God created all things, made all things that are known, and can be known, including the heavens, the earth, the plants and creatures and including spiritual beings and physical beings and combined spiritual/physical beings. God created three kinds of creatures; angels, animals, and mankind. Angels are spiritual beings. Mankind are unique from animals. Both animals and mankind God brought forth from the earth but God created mankind in His image. Mankind has a likeness to God while animals do not. After forming man from the dust of the earth, God breathed into man the breath of life. When it came to being alive mankind were given by God something more than animals. Men and women have both bodies and souls and were created to have personal relationship with God.
The third question needed to defined one’s beliefs is, “what is the nature of morality, or the nature of right and wrong?” The reality of right and wrong is not simply decided and made known to us by God. Right and wrong is defined by the very nature of God, by who God is. 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, His revealed direction of right and wrong, 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, that 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 just cause. The command that we not 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 they desire to keep them.
A part of the reality of God’s creation that He has made known is that mankind, being created in God’s image, have the ability to love, for God is love and God loves. Love encompasses a choice to accept, obey and desire the best for the one who is loved, no matter what. God created mankind with the ability to choose to do what is right or what is wrong. 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 seen in the command given to man to not 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 and man was told it would result in death, which ultimately includes eternal separation from God and everything good. Mankind chose to disobey God and, as a result, lost their good relationship with God and entered into a state of damnation, a state that cannot enter into the presence of God. By their disobedience, mankind lost their ability to do what is right. They 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. Because of sin, the image of God was marred but it is still present in mankind. As such mankind remains a unique and special part of God’s creation.
Although mankind failed to love God, God’s love for mankind has not failed. God had a plan, an expression of His love, which He has carried out to reconcile some of mankind to Himself by willingly punishing, in the place of man, His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who being God, willingly took upon Himself human flesh, so that, as a perfect man, He 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, making it possible for those who believe to once again stand, comforted, in the presence of the Holy Lord God.
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. Once their eyes or their hearts are opened and they see God’s love, which is demonstrated in His great plan, they then desire to believe and to love God in return.
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. 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.
The fall of mankind into the damned state of sin, was pre-empted by Satan and those created angels who followed Satan’s lead, rebelling against God, 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. 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 of Satan, along with all the angels who also rebelled against God and all of mankind who do not believe or desire God’s plan of salvation and reconciliation. This banishment includes a punishment of eternal 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.
Where does sickness and healing fit in? Although God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them good, we learn from the Bible that, as a result of Adam sinning, brokenness and death became part of creation. As a result, all of us will die. The death of mankind was not part of God’s good creation. Death came because of sin and rebellion. It is not natural. The consequence of Adam’s sin and rebellion was that he would die along with all of those born from Him. This includes you and I. Thus we live in bodies that will die. Before death comes the brokenness of our bodies. Our bodies quit working properly. This is sickness. Sickness is not natural. Both sickness and death are 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. Some may get a heart transplant but this does not cure the person. It only gives some more time. The person will still ultimately die.
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 still these people who were brought back from the dead eventually became sick again and died. Like the restoration of the rest of creation, The complete healing and restoration of our bodies 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. 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.
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?
Not yet complete…….
1. My description of God is a modification of the answer to the 4th question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
Some of phrases and ideas of this post have come from a lecture series of Dr Greg Bahnsen, titled, Training for Defending the Faith. But the basis of what I say and what Greg Bahnsen shares in his lecture is what God has revealed in His Word, the Bible.