Lesson 5: The Goodness of God and the Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 5: The Goodness of God and the Christian Life

Lessons Two and Three focused on the attributes of God’s greatness . We learned that He is infinite, while mankind is finite. This difference is known as the Creator/creature distinction. In Lesson Four, we looked at the attributes of God’s goodness . God’s goodness is all of His character qualities that can be described as holy . Although mankind can never be infinite, he can share God’s holiness. This lesson will show how the attributes of God’s goodness apply to mankind in general and to the Christian in particular.

Every moral change that God produces in the life of the Christian is an expression of holiness. It is an act of “ setting apart ” the believer. He is set apart from sin to God. The character qualities of God’s goodness, such as love, righteousness, and grace, become the marks of holiness in the life of the believer.

I. God’s Love and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s love to mankind in general

1. Mankind is the object of God’s love.

Future lessons will show that mankind bears the image of God. It is this image that distinguishes man from the rest of creation. God’s love is limited to that which reflects His own image, namely, mankind.

[God does not love animals or plants in the same way he loves people. People are the only creatures who bear the image of God.]

2. The supreme expression of God’s love for man is the gift of His Son .

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16

[C.f. also 1 John 4:9-10.]

B. The significance of God’s love to the Christian in particular

1. Believers share the character quality of God’s holy love.

Parents pass on many of their human characteristics to their children. In a similar way, our heavenly Father passes on His attributes of goodness to His children. Love is one such attribute.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.   1 John 4:7

[Remember that true, godly love is a choice to do what is best for the one loved, not a romantic or erotic feeling/emotion. We can and should share this type of love. Lack of love shows a lack of salvation. C.f. 1 John 3:14.]

2. The presence of genuine love in one’s life is evidence of a relationship with God.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.   1 John 4:8

3. The believer demonstrates genuine love for God through obedience .

If you love me, you will obey what I command.   John 14:15

4. God’s love for the believer results in discipline for disobedience .

True love will not tolerate disobedience. It is in our best interest for God to require our obedience. Therefore, punishment of disobedience is really an expression of true love.

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.   Hebrews 12:5 6

[Apathy (an “I don’t care” attitude) is an evidence of lack of love. So what does that say about discipline received from parents, teachers, etc? If they didn’t care about you, they’d let you do exactly as you choose. Discipline and limits show they care. Lack of it shows they don’t. So be thankful that your parents, teachers, etc discipline you.]

II. God’s Righteousness and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s righteousness to mankind in general

1. Every person is required to live according to the perfect standard demanded by God.

The ultimate test of anyone’s actions or motives is not, “Am I better than someone else?” The ultimate test is, “Am I like God?”

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48

[Contra relativism, which says there is no real, objective standard of right and wrong. Our standard comes from God, not from how I feel or the situation.]

2. Because God is righteous, all wrongs will eventually be righted .

The Bible teaches that all people ought to do right; however, wickedness is rampant and getting worse. Sometimes it seems as though the wicked get away with sin, i.e., that crime pays. The Bible does not guarantee that we will always see justice done in this life . There will come a time, however, when every thought , word , action , and motive will be judged by a righteous God.

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.   Acts 17:31

B. The significance of God’s righteousness to the Christian in particular

1. Believers share the character quality of God’s holy righteousness.

Believers are in a process of change. Every day they are increasingly being conformed to the image of Christ. This means that those who once could never do anything godly are now

enabled by God to meet His standard of right and wrong.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. – 1 John 3:7

[This texts is speaking of righteousness as a pattern of life, not absolutely sinless behavior. ]

2. The presence of righteousness in one’s life is evidence of a relationship with God.

If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.   1 John 2:29

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.   1 John 3:10


3. God’s righteousness guarantees restoration when the sinning believer confesses his or her sin.

Christians are able to be righteous in their thoughts, words, actions, and motives. However, this does not mean that they will be perfect. 1 John 1:8 indicates that Christians sin. Sin in the life of a believer affects his fellowship with God. But God is always willing to forgive and restore the repentant believer.

[Sin negatively impacts our relationship with God, but it does not sever it. One of the reasons daily devotions are so important is to keep “short accounts” with God, that is, confess and repent of our sin and ask for help.]

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:8 9

4. God’s justice guarantees that any good deeds that believers do for Him will not be forgotten .

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.   Hebrews 6:10

III. God’s Grace and the Christian Life

Theologians classify the grace of God into two categories: common grace and special grace. Common grace is a description of His kindness given to all mankind, whether saved or unsaved. Special grace is the kindness which God gives only to believers.

A. The significance of God’s grace to mankind in general

1. Because of common grace, all people understand that God exists . There is no such thing as a true atheist.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities  his eternal power and divine nature  have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.   Romans 1:20

[There are no true philosophical atheists. People deny the existence of God and suppress their knowledge of him, but they are deceiving themselves. Why do people want there to be no God? Then they’ll not be responsible for their actions. There will be no final judgment, no punishment for sins.]

2. Because of common grace, evil is restrained in the world.

The fact that all people are not as bad as they could be is due to the work of common grace. The Holy Spirit limits the wickedness of societies and individuals.

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.   2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6 7

[During the Trib., the H. Sp. will not suppress or limit sin as he is doing now.]

3. Because of common grace, God is patient with mankind.

God could condemn the entire human race at any time. The condemnation of the race would be pure justice . It is the grace of God which prevents this from happening.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.   2 Peter 3:9

4. Because of common grace, unsaved men are able to do cultural or civic good.

Christ acknowledged that the Pharisees, though unsaved, were capable of doing “good” (Matthew 23:23). However, such “good works” are viewed as sinful by God due to the motives behind them (Isaiah 64:6).

[Such “good works” by the unsaved are non-meritorious. That is, they have no eternal value. There is nothing an unsaved person can do to please God.]

B. The significance of God’s grace to the Christian in particular

1. The special grace of God results in the salvation of those who believe.

Christians are saved only because of the undeserved, unearned, and unwanted favor of God.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.   Ephesians 1:7

2. The special grace of God results in the spiritual growth of those who are saved.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.   Titus 2:11 12

3. Believers share the character quality of God’s holy graciousness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.   Ephesians 4:32

[Part of that graciousness is patience with the shortcomings and failures of others. God has been and is very patient with us as sinners, and we should display the same kind of grace toward others.]

4. The presence of grace in one’s life is evidence of a

relationship with God.

[Since] you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, [since] any comfort from his love, [since] any fellowship with the Spirit, [since] any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.   Philippians 2:1 4

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. Because God is love, the believer is able to love God and his fellow man.

2. Because God is righteous, the believer is able to do right.

3. Because God is gracious, the believer is able to be gracious to others.

Learning to Live It

1. An organization is being established in your neighborhood called The United Church League (UCL). A representative of the UCL contacts your pastor and asks him to encourage your church to join. The representative says, “Doctrine is not an issue in the UCL. We have Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, and Catholics. We believe that the UCL is the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21 that we might all be one. Won’t you demonstrate your love for God and join this worthy organization?” Your pastor asks for your advice. Based on your understanding of biblical love, how would you respond?

Love does not overlook error or sin. Love and truth are inseparable. I demonstrate my love for God by not joining up with such organizations. In order for such groups to participate, participants would have to sacrifice or compromise their doctrinal positions. Remember that love is not just acceptance. Love is conditioned/governed by holiness. God will not accept in his love what his holiness condemns.

2. Bill, a classmate at school, has just lost his girlfriend in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. The charges against the drunk driver are dismissed because of a technicality. Bill meets you for lunch one day and says, “It’s just not fair! How could God let this happen?” What would you tell Bill about the righteousness of God?

Because God is just, justice will one day be served, though it may not be in this life. God will eventually make all things right. All will be justly rewarded and/or punished. It may not seem like that is the case now, but we don’t always have all the facts. God does not just “let” things happen. Things happen because God planned them to. Further, in such situations, it’s best to trust God to repay and exact vengeance.

3. The city of Detroit has a terrible tradition called “Devil’s Night.” The night before Halloween, teens burn buildings and destroy property all over the

city. However, in your community the Halloween pranks amount only to some egged cars and smashed pumpkins. How could you explain the difference between the activities in these two communities?

It could be a combination of many factors, such as population density, police enforcement, morale, community morals, etc. A factor not to be overlooked is God’s common grace. God restrains sin to some degree. The only reason every night is not “Devil’s Night” is that God restrains sin.

4. Some people grow up in Christian homes, while others have never heard of the Bible. How is God fair to those who have never heard?

Very tough question. A few thoughts: 1. Remember that salvation is God’s business. He’s in charge of who has access to His word. 2. Our conception of fair and unfair may not reflect all the issues involved. God would be totally just to condemn all people. That he saves some is pure grace. 3. God has said that all men have some access to knowledge about God, thru creation and conscience. No one can legitimately say that he knew nothing of God

  1. Does this mean that all Christians are perfect? No, but there should be some evidence of a desire to do right, and some progress in turning from sinful behavior.

    2. If a person claims to be saved, righteous deeds of some sort should follow. If they do not, there is no evidence and no assurance of salvation.

Lesson 4: The Goodness of God | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 4: The Goodness of God

In Lesson Two, we learned that God’s attributes can be logically divided into two categories: His attributes of greatness and His attributes of goodness . The key to remembering the difference between the two is the word “ share .” God’s qualities of greatness  His omnipotence, sovereignty, etc.  cannot be shared with created beings; they are exclusively His. God’s attributes of goodness, on the other hand, can be shared with created beings. While these characteristics will always shine brightest as qualities of God, mankind can reflect them to a certain degree.

[So we’re talking about qualities that God shares with mankind.]

Just as God’s greatness is governed by the fact that He is infinite, so His goodness is governed by the fact that He is holy .

[In other words, these aspects of God’s goodness are limited or governed by God’s holiness. That is, each of these characteristics that we’ll talk about today are holy. What do I mean by “holy”? Read next part.]

God’s holiness has two aspects:

1. God is separate from His creation.

The word “holy” literally describes something that has been “ set apart .” To say that God is holy means that He is not part of the universe, nor is the universe part of Him. He is unique .

[This explains how objects (e.g., furniture in the tabernacle and temple, holy ground) can be considered holy.

Also, God created the universe, and He is in the universe, but he is separate from the universe. ]

2. God is morally pure.

God’s uniqueness is seen not only in His nature (what He is like), but also in His activities (what He does). He does not act like mankind. For example, we sin  He does not. Therefore, the word “holy” came to be applied to the apartness or difference between the moral character of God and the moral character of man. Unlike us, God never does anything that is wrong; He always does what is right.

[So when you see the word “holy,” think of two things: separate/different, and morally pure. This holiness characterizes or governs the other attributes we’ll talk about today.]

In this lesson, we will learn:

1. God is holy in love .

2. God is holy in righteousness .

3. God is holy in grace .

I. God is Holy in Love.

[I.e., God’s love can be described as “holy” — set apart, morally pure.]

A. Characteristics of God’s love

1. God’s love is an act of the will , not an emotion .

Feelings are fickle — they change from day to day. When love is based on feelings, it too is changeable. Love does affect the emotions, but one should not equate the two. Biblical love is not a feeling but a choice . Thus, God could promise to love His people and command them to love as well.

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.   Hosea 14:4

[The love we’re talking about is not romantic or erotic love. It’s different that the world’s definition of love. Rather than a feeling, godly love is a concern for the well-being of the one loved. Matt 5:44 “Love your enemies.”]

2. God’s love is governed by His other attributes .

People often think that in order to be loving, one must ignore sin and overlook error. However, true biblical love cannot contradict the other attributes of God. It always functions within the confines of truth and justice .

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.   Psalm 33:5

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. – Ephesians 4:15

[God’s love does not override his holiness. God won’t accept in his love what his holiness rejects. Christianity is big on “acceptance” these days–you need to accept people as they are, not offend them, etc. But love is not synonymous with acceptance. You can love a person and still reject their behavior–in fact, that’s what we are commanded to do.]

3. God’s love is sacrificial .

Mankind’s version of love tends to be selfish. It is preoccupied with getting rather than giving . However, true love requires giving  sacrificing one’s self for the benefit of another. The supreme example of the self sacrificial nature of genuine love is God’s gift of His Son for our salvation.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   1 John 4:9 10 (See also 1 John 3:16.)

[C.f. also John 15:13 “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”]

4. God’s love is unconditional .

It is common to find people using so called love as a bargaining tool. They say, “I will love you if . . . .” However, God loves mankind with no “if’s” attached. He does not ask what we can give Him in return. He loves us in spite of our sinfulness.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.   Romans 5:8

To put it another way, we tend to say, “I love you because you are lovely .” But God says, “I love you because I am love  in spite of the fact that you are unlovely .”

5. God’s love is unending .

People often speak of falling in and out of love. However, genuine love does not just happen  it is a choice. God never “falls out of love.” Love is part of His very nature. Therefore, God has said:

I have loved you with an everlasting love.   Jeremiah 31:3

B. A definition of God’s love

God’s love is the attribute which causes Him to sacrificially and unconditionally choose to do what is best for us.

II. God is Holy in Righteousness.

The words “holy” and “righteous” are often used interchangeably, but they are different concepts. As noted above, holiness emphasizes God’s separation from His creation. His righteousness is holy because it is unlike any standards of right and wrong that mankind would establish.

[“Righteous” and “just” mean “right” or “fair.” “Righteousness” is “right-ness,” the quality of being right. Justice is a result or out-working of righteousness.]

A. Characteristics of God’s righteousness

1. Righteousness is conformity to a standard.

This point is clearly illustrated in the Old Testament laws pertaining to weights and measures.

Do not use dishonest (lit. “unrighteous”) standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Use honest (lit. “righteous”) scales and honest weights.   Leviticus 19:35 36

Scales are called righteous (honest) when they conform to an established standard.

2. God Himself is the standard of right.

There is no standard of right and wrong one may impose on God. He is the standard. He is righteous because all that He does is completely consistent with His character.

I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God! He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.   Deuteronomy 32:3 4

[If there is no God, can there be a true standard of right and wrong? No. You can see then how atheism has brought about the idea of relativism.]

3. Righteousness requires the punishing of disobedience (failure to conform to the standard).

The LORD did not hesitate to bring the disaster upon us, for the LORD our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.   Daniel 9:14

[God would not be just if he ignored the breaking of the law. God punishes sin because crime (sin) is worthy of punishment. A punishment equal the crime must be made. Think of a judge who ignores criminals–he is unjust. So God has to respond when someone sins, because if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be just/righteous. It’s God’s nature to react against sin.]

4. Righteousness requires the rewarding of obedience (conformity to the standard).

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.   Hebrews 6:10

Both 3 and 4 are expressions of God’s justice . Because God is righteous, He will always do what is just in light of our actions, handing out punishment or reward.

[Why is it that sin often seems to go unpunished? Because God is gracious, and because God often reserves punishment and reward for later (hell and heaven).]

B. A definition of God’s righteousness

God’s righteousness is the attribute which ensures that all that He does conforms to His character. It also demands that all others conform to His perfect standard. God’s justice is the aspect of His righteousness in which He rewards obedience and punishes disobedience.

III. God is Holy in Grace.

“Grace” is one of the most misused and abused words in theology, yet it is a very simple concept. A biblical word translated into English by the word “grace” means “to

stoop ; to bend down.” It communicates the idea of reaching down with condescending favor or kindness.

A. Characteristics of God’s grace

[Remember that even God’s grace is governed by his holiness. God will not overlook sin just because He is gracious.]

1. God’s grace is undeserved .

God extends His grace to sinners though they do not deserve it.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.   Romans 3:23 24

[Grace is receiving something we do not deserve–favor. Mercy is not receiving something we do deserve–punishment, condemnation.

Even unsaved people benefit from God’s “common” grace. Common grace restrains sin generally and allows people to do good generally. Without it there would be no limit to the sinfulness of man.]

2. God’s grace is unearned .

Most people feel that they can do something to earn God’s favor. However, God cannot be manipulated. Nothing can obligate Him to mankind. God’s grace is a free gift. If you have to do something to earn grace, it can no longer be grace.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith  and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God  not by works, so that no one can boast.   Ephesians 2:8 9

[Earning God’s favor is the basis of every other religion in the world. Works is the basis of favor for most other people. But there is nothing a sinful person can do to earn God’s favor. C.f. also Rom 11:6.]

3. God’s grace is unwanted .

Contrary to popular belief, mankind does not want anything to do with God. When an unsaved person speaks of a desire for God, he is really referring to a desire for the benefits that only God can give. The two are not the same!

There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.   Romans 3:11

[Before a person is saved, he is dead in trespasses and sin. He is unresponsive to God. He hates God. So he is unconcerned about receiving any favor from God.]

B. A definition of God’s grace

God’s grace is His undeserved, unearned, and unwanted favor given to condemned sinners.

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned that God is holy. That is, He is separate from His creation and morally pure. This attribute governs all the attributes of His goodness. We have learned three of these attributes of goodness:

1. God is holy in love. He always does what is best for us.

2. God is holy in righteousness. Everything He does is right.

3. God is holy in grace. He extends His favor to us, although we do not deserve, earn, or want it.

Learning to Live It

During a lengthy discussion of the gospel with an unsaved friend, the subject of hell is mentioned. He responds by saying, “I don’t believe in hell. After all, God is love. How could a loving God ever send anyone to hell?” How would you answer this question?

God is love, but He is also just and holy and righteous. His justice demands eternal punishment because man’s sin is against an infinite God. If one will not obey God (be saved), then he will suffer the punishment for his sin. God in his love has provided a way of salvation. It’s not God’s fault if someone ignores that way. The degree of punishment is based on who the crime is against, e.g., killing an ant vs. murder. Sin is against an infinite, holy God; thus the punishment fits the crime.

Later in the same conversation, your friend says, “I’m not worried about my soul  I’m as good as anyone else!” Based upon your understanding of righteousness, how would you respond to this statement?

Man is not the standard, God is. The standard is perfection. The state and destination of your soul does not depend upon how good you are compared to someone else. It depends upon how good you are in God’s eyes. The only way you can be good with God is to be saved (2 Cor 5:21).

Finally, your friend says, “Well, I may not be perfect, but I’ve

taken care of that by attending church, taking communion, and being baptized.” What misunderstandings does he have about grace?

salvation is by grace–It cannot be earned through good works (Eph 2:8-9)

Lesson 3: The Greatness of God and the Christian Life | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 3: The Greatness of God and the Christian Life

Lesson Two described three of the attributes, or character qualities, of God’s greatness. God is great because He is infinite , or without external limitations. Mankind, however, is completely limited and, thus, finite . Theologians call this fundamental difference between God and man the Creator / creature distinction.

[God’s only limitations are his own character and will. He won’t do anything inconsistent with Himself.]

God’s character determines the relationship between Himself and man. This lesson describes that relationship from the perspective of the three attributes of God’s greatness discussed in Lesson Two (omnipotence, omniscience, and sovereignty). [Review these terms.]

[So this lesson looks at how these facts matter to us practically speaking. ]

I. God’s Omnipotence and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s omnipotence to mankind in general

The omnipotence of God renders mankind totally dependent on Him.

God is the ultimate source of everything needed by both believer and unbeliever. He has structured the specific details of our lives so that we must rely on Him for all things. This is true whether one admits it or not.

1. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of the physical universe .

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.   Hebrews 1:3

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – Colossians 1:17

[The universe exists and is kept working by God’s power. If God withdrew His power, all things would immediately fly apart. C.f. Col 1.17.]

2. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of his life .

If it were his intention and he withdrew his Spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust.   Job 34:14 15

3. Mankind is dependent on God’s power for provision of daily needs.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.   Matthew 5:45

Give us today our daily bread. – Matthew 6:11

B. The significance of God’s omnipotence to the Christian in particular

  1. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the preservation of his

salvation .

The security of the believer depends upon God’s power, not his own. This is why it is impossible for one to lose his salvation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade  kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.   1 Peter 1:3 5

[God is the one who keeps the Christian saved. C.f. John 10:28-29. Good works do not keep you saved.]

2. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the strength to face the circumstances of life.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Isaiah 40:29 31

[“Those who hope in the LORD” are believers. C.f. also 1 Cor 10:13]

3. The Christian is dependent on God’s power for the ability to do right .

Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.   Philippians 2:12 13

[Both salvation and sanctification are by grace. Both are gifts from God.]

II. God’s Omniscience and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s omniscience to mankind in general

The omniscience of God renders mankind totally accountable to Him.

Accountability means giving an answer for one’s actions. The Bible teaches that all men will one day give an account to God.

1. Believers will give an account of their actions at the Judgment Seat of Christ .

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.   2 Corinthians 5:10

2. Unbelievers will give an account of their actions at the Great White Throne Judgment .

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened . . . . The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.   Revelation 20:12

The fact of our accountability to God assumes He has complete knowledge of all of our actions.

But they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me.   Hosea 7:2

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.   Psalm 139:1 4

[C.f. also Heb 4:13 — all things are “naked and open” to God.]

B. The significance of God’s omniscience to the Christian in particular

The Christian’s understanding of his accountability to the omniscient God serves as a motivation to forsake sinful living and to pursue righteous living .

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.   Psalm 139:23 24

III. God’s Sovereignty and the Christian Life

A. The significance of God’s sovereignty to mankind in general

The sovereignty of God renders mankind totally responsible to Him.

Lesson Two established the fact that God has absolute authority over all things. God’s exercise of this authority is called His sovereignty. Many resist this doctrine because it makes mankind’s responsibility to God unquestionable.

Mankind’s responsibility to God means that he is obligated to think and act in a certain way. This obligation cannot be separated from his accountability discussed above. It is precisely because a person is required to live a certain way that he will be called upon to account for his actions.

[So man is accountable because he is responsible. God has told us to do certain things in a certain way. Therefore, we are accountable to do so. E.g., you are given the responsibility to take out the trash and are held accountable for if you do it, how well you do it, etc.]

1. Mankind is responsible to God because God has established

standards of behavior .

When God gave the Ten Commandments, He began by identifying Himself as “the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:2). He did this to emphasize the fact that He is the source of all standards of right and wrong.

[Today, most people accept the philosophy called relativism: there are no absolutes, no true right or wrong. Right and wrong depends on the individual and the circumstance, not on a standard or a law. What consequence does this have? Changing standards of right and wrong, total independence of “ethical” behavior. Further, if there is no God, there can be no true standard/law of right or wrong.]

2. Mankind is responsible to God because God has sovereignly planned all of man’s free choices .

The LORD said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.”   Exodus 4:21

But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.   Exodus 8:15

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”   Romans 9:17

[Note that in the first verse, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. In the next verse, Pharaoh hardens his own heart, and the last verse shows that God is in control of Pharaoh’s actions. Pharaoh did what he wanted to do, and what he wanted was God’s plan. To Pharaoh, it seemed as if he was acting freely, but in reality, he was doing what God planned for him to do. It’s similar for us. From our perspective, our choices are free, but in reality, God has planned our activities and is in control of what we do.]

Although God never forces us to choose contrary to our will, He has planned the circumstances in which we exercise our will. Therefore, God has determined that individuals will exercise their wills at a particular place and at a particular time for a particular purpose. See also Genesis 50:20.

[God renders it certain that we will always “freely” choose that which he has previously ordained. This is part of the mystery/paradox between divine sovereignty and human freedom.]

B. The significance of God’s sovereignty to the Christian in particular

1. The Christian’s understanding that he is responsible to the sovereign God gives him a God centered purpose in life.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.   1 Corinthians 10:31

This means that in every situation in life, whether large or small, the believer will ask, “What would God want me to do?”

2. The Christian’s understanding that God is sovereign gives him peace and confidence .

a. The believer can serve God without worry , knowing that everything is under God’s control.

b. The believer can be confident, knowing that God has planned every situation he faces for his good .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

  1. Because God is omnipotent, we are dependent on Him for everything.

  1. Because God is omniscient, we are accountable to Him for our actions.

  1. Because God is sovereign, we are responsible to Him for our actions.

Learning to Live It

Read the following excerpt from a sermon by Charles H. Spurgeon:

“There is no attribute more comforting to His children than that of God’s Sovereignty. Under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that Sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that Sovereignty overrules them, and that Sovereignty will sanctify them all. There is nothing for which the children ought more earnestly to contend than the doctrine of their Master over all creation  the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands  the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that Throne. On the other hand, there is no doctrine more hated by worldlings . . . [than] the Sovereignty of the infinite Jehovah. Men will allow God to be everywhere except on His throne. They will allow Him to be in His workshop to fashion worlds and make stars. They will allow Him to be in His [money house] to dispense His alms and bestow His bounties. They will allow Him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever moving ocean; but when God ascends His throne, His creatures then gnash their teeth. And we proclaim an enthroned God, and His right to do as He wills with His own, to dispose of His creatures as He thinks well, without consulting them in the matter; then it is that . . . men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on His throne is not the God they love.”

Why do you think the doctrine of God’s sovereignty is so comforting to believers?

because they know that nothing ever has or ever will happen which is outside of God’s control. It means that there is a meaning/purpose to life, and that God is in control.

Why should believers uphold this doctrine?

because God would cease to be God without it; because the Bible teaches it

Why do you think people so hate this doctrine?

because it puts God on the throne, not man. Even some believers hate the logical conclusion of God’s Sovereignty. Some people (Arminians) think that man has a totally (or at least mostly) free will, and can either choose God or not. We would disagree with them. People also hate it because it seems to limit or take away man’s freedom or choice. Further, at times it doesn’t seem to be true experientially. That is, it often seems that occurrences (like storms and disasters) are random and pointless, that our choices are indeed free, etc. It’s also hard to understand how God can be sovereign and still hold man accountable.

Lesson 2: The Greatness of God | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 2: The Greatness of God

Learning Together

God’s character qualities are commonly called His attributes . [An attribute is a basic quality or description. ] They are the properties that make God who He is. Some theologians logically divide the attributes of God into two categories: the attributes of His greatness and the attributes of His goodness .

This lesson deals with God’s attributes of greatness. These are character qualities that belong to God alone; they cannot be shared with mankind.

God’s primary attribute of greatness is His infinity . This word is hard for us to grasp because we are human and, thus, limited. When we say that God is infinite, we mean that He has no external limitations. In other words, there is nothing outside of Himself that determines who He is and what He does . Only created objects and beings have external limitations. God’s attributes of greatness are simply expressions of His infinity. Three of these attributes that are absolutely necessary to further studies in BFL are discussed below. In this lesson, we will learn:

1. God is infinite in power .

2. God is infinite in knowledge .

3. God is infinite in authority .

I. God is Infinite in Power.

The fact that God is unlimited in power is the attribute called omnipotence (from omni, meaning “ all ,” and potent,

meaning “ powerful “). God’s omnipotence is displayed in several ways:

A. Creation most clearly displays God’s omnipotence.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him. For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.   Psalm 33:6 9

[C.f. also Jer 32:17]

Note: God created the universe out of nothing ( ex nihilo ), not from preexisting materials.

[How is this different from when we create something? We use existing materials. God didn’t. Einstein proved the interchangablility of energy and matter (E=MC2). If the whole universe was created by God, what does this say about God’s power/energy? It’s immense. See also Col 1:16-17: God’s power keeps things together. ]

B. God’s control of history displays His omnipotence.

[History is going somewhere. That is, what happens is not random, chance occurrence. God rules in world events. Things happen because God has decreed that they will happen.]

One way God controls history is by governing the decisions of world leaders.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases. – Proverbs 21:1

For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish his purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.   Revelation 17:17

[Note that these verses show that God can and does control the thoughts of people. ]

C. The outworking of God’s plan for individuals displays His omnipotence.

Job questioned the justice of God because of the difficulties he had endured. In response, God revealed His greatness to Job (Job 38 41). Notice Job’s response:

I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. – Job 42:2

It is often said, “God can do anything.” This is not technically correct. For example, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Rather, omnipotence means that God can do anything consistent with His character .

[One’s activities are generally dictated by one’s nature. E.g., you don’t expect a dog to act like a cat. E.g., there are some things that girls like (such as pretty dresses) that do not interest boys. You would not expect a boy to be interested in or drawn toward certain things, and same with girls. In a similar way, God is “limited” by the kind of person He is. His nature determines what He will do.]

II. God is Infinite in Knowledge.

The fact that God is without limits in knowledge is referred to as His omniscience (from omni, meaning “ all ,” and science, meaning “ knowledge “).

For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.   1 John 3:20

[C.f. also John 21:17]

What does this imply?

A. God possesses complete knowledge of the universe .

He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.   Psalm 147:4

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.   Hebrews 4:13

[There is nothing that happens in the universe that is outside the knowledge and control of God.]

B. God possesses knowledge of the smallest details of life.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.   Matthew 10:30

[C.f. also Psm 139:1-4]

C. God possesses knowledge of possible events . He knows everything that might have been.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.   Matthew 11:21

[C.f. also 1 Sam 23:10-13]

These three points show that God has always known all things, past , present, and future , at the same time. God has never learned anything.

[Just think: God knew and planned from eternity past that we would all be here doing this right now. God is never surprised. He never wonders why things happen. Contra the “openness of God” idea which asserts that God really doesn’t know what’s going to happen because men have a totally free will. ]

D. God’s knowledge is active , not passive . This means that God’s knowledge of an event is not gained through observation , but through involvement. He knows an event because He planned it and participates in it.

The biblical word for this active aspect of God’s knowledge is “ foreknowledge.”

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.   Matthew 10:29

Notice this prayer of Peter and John:

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.   Acts 4:27 28

[“Foreknowledge” is not simply “knowledge ahead of time.” Notice the above verse. What happened happened because God chose that it should be that way. God does not look into the future, see what will happen, and then react based on what He sees. God’s foreknowledge is His active choice of a particular course of action. See Rom 11:2. “Foreknew” means “chose.”]

III. God is Infinite in Authority.

The fact that God’s authority over all creation is without limits is referred to as His sovereignty .

[“Sovereignty” basically means “control.” “Sove” = all, “reign” = to rule. A king is called a sovereign, so when you think of sovereignty, think of a king being in charge or in control.]

What does the sovereignty of God imply?

A. God is in control of all things .

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.   Romans 8:28

[C.f. also 1 Chron 29:11-12; Ps 22:28, 103:19]

B. God is never dependent on man.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” “Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.   Romans 11:33 36

God’s sovereignty means that He is totally independent in all His decisions. He is never influenced or manipulated by His creation. He never depends on the actions of men to determine His actions.

[What implications does this have for prayer? It means that we don’t change God’s mind when we pray. God does what He planned on doing. He often accomplishes that plan in conjunction with our prayers. So what’s wrong with the statement “Prayer moves the hand that moves the universe”? It conveys the idea that God’s actions are determined by people. God may fulfill His purposes in conjunction with our prayers, but He does not depend on them to act.]

C. God does whatever pleases Him.

I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.   Isaiah 46:9 10

[C.f. also Ps 115:3; Dan 4:35]

D. Whatever God does is always right .

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, `Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?   Romans 9:20 21

God’s sovereignty means that all that He does is right . His actions are not right because they conform to a standard of right and wrong . He is the standard of right and wrong.

[If the above is true, and if God is in charge of all that is done in the universe, why does it seem that so much evil abounds? 2 reasons (there are others):

  1. The world is a fallen, sin-cursed place (cf. Gen 3). Sin/the curse ruins things and brings about much of the wrong in the world.

2. Men often suffer the consequences of their own evil or stupid decisions/actions. E.g., robing a bank leads to jail time. Gal 6:7-8.

The Bible teaches the seemingly contradictory truth that God is sovereign, yet man is responsible. It would seem that if God is in control of all events, man could not be held responsible for his actions, for he is only doing what God makes him do. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that man is responsible for his actions and that God is not the author of sin.

C.H. Spurgeon writes: “Shall we never be able to drive into men’s minds

the truth that predestination and free agency are both facts? Men sin as

freely as birds fly in the air, and they are altogether responsible for

their sin; and yet everything is ordained and foreseen of God. The

fore-ordination of God in no degree interferes with the responsibility of

man. I have often been asked by persons to reconcile the two truths. My

only reply is – They need no reconciliation, for they never fell out.

why should I try to reconcile two friends?” (C.H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan

Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol.33, Banner of Truth Trust, 1969 reprint, pp


Recap & Review

In this lesson, we have learned:

1. God is omnipotent, or all-powerful. His power is unlimited.

2. God is omniscient, or all-knowing. His knowledge is unlimited.

3. God is sovereign. His authority is unlimited.

Learning to Live It

1. In Lesson One, we learned that God is a person; therefore, we can and should pray. Suppose you have an unsaved friend who asks you to go fishing next Thursday. It is just the opportunity you have been looking for  a full day alone to discuss his relationship with God. So, you pray that the Lord will grant good weather next Thursday so you can have this opportunity. What does God have to do to answer your prayer?

arrange the world’s weather, arrange the friend’s schedule, allow you to make it safely to the lake, make an opportunity to naturally present the gospel, etc.

Therefore, prayer presupposes which attribute of God discussed in this lesson?

His omnipotence (and sovereignty)

Suppose Thursday comes and it rains all day. What might you conclude about your prayer?

that it was not in accordance with God’s sovereign will. You could conclude that God did not answer, or that He doesn’t care, etc. You should conclude that God is still in control of the situation. Your plan did not fit the divine plan.

2. Suppose some tragedy strikes your family. Is God in control of the situation? yes

Is it possible you may not understand why God allowed this to occur?

Yes, in fact it is very likely you won’t totally understand why many things happen.

What should be your response if you don’t understand why?

Trust Him. Remember, He is too loving to be unkind and too wise to make mistakes. Also, remember that God is able to do anything, and that He is in control of the situation. Trust that God is good, wise, and loving, and that there is a reason/purpose for the situation.

Lesson 1: The Person We Call God | Biblical Foundations for Living

Who am I? I am a finite creature who is responsible to the infinite Creator.

Introduction to the Doctrine of God

The word “theology” means “the study of God.” It is used in both a general sense and a specific sense. The word is applied generally to any study of biblical truth. A study specifically concerned with the person of God is known as Theology Proper. This is the subject of the five lessons in this section.

It might seem unusual to begin the answer to the question, “Who am I?,” with a study of the person of God. Some, no doubt, would begin to answer the question with a challenge to look inside and know oneself. Others would begin with a discourse on self-esteem. But, just as the logical starting place in any book is the beginning, so our study must start “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). Your life is a small part of a greater history. You are part of the human race. To know yourself, you must see the “big picture.” Specifically, you must understand how and why humanity came into being. This requires an understanding of the One who created you.

Without a clear and accurate knowledge of the character of the true God, the Christian faith is unintelligible and principles of Christian living are meaningless. Therefore, this study of the doctrine of God will provide the foundation for every other lesson in Biblical Foundations for Living.

If you are a believer, you know God. Think about it! You know Him and can come to understand Him better (Jeremiah 9:24). [But let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.] Getting to know God better is a goal the Christian will spend his entire life pursuing. It is a pursuit that is never boring or impractical. To know God is the most relevant activity one can undertake. It is life-changing.

Lesson 1: The Person We Call God

This lesson is designed to introduce you to three basic truths about God. It is simply an introduction because there will always be more to learn about Him. These three truths will form the foundation for your life-long task of developing your understanding of God. These three truths are:

1. God exists .

2. God is a person .

3. God is a triunity .

I. God Exists.

This truth might sound obvious, but it is the place where a discussion of God must begin, seeing His existence is doubted or denied by many.

[The word for “God” in Greek is theos. A theist says God (or a god) does exist. An atheist is one who says God does not exist. An agnostic says one cannot know if God exists or not. ]

Note the following facts about His existence:

A. The existence of God is stated as fact in Scripture.

From the opening words of the Bible, the reader is brought face to face with his Creator. No attempt is made to prove His existence.

Genesis 1:1 begins with a clear statement of fact: “In the beginning God . . . .”

God is under no obligation to prove to man that He exists. Any such obligation would make God answerable to man rather than vice versa. Nevertheless, God has chosen to reveal Himself through His Word. Anyone who genuinely desires to know God can gain an understanding of Him from the Bible.

B. The existence of God is a matter of faith .

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.   Hebrews 11:6

Throughout history, Christians have tried to convince non Christians that God exists by using weighty, logical arguments. The best these arguments can accomplish is to demonstrate the probability , but never the certainty , of God’s existence. All men know that there is a god of some sort. The true God, however, can only be known through faith in the Scriptures.

[The fact that all people know something about God is true because of general revelation (c.f., Rom 1:18-20). Special revelation (the Bible) is necessary for us to know more about God. ]

Is it possible to prove God’s existence? No. Is it necessary? No. Rom 10:17–faith comes thru hearing the word of God, not by being convinced that God exists, etc. Further, one exercises faith because God gives him the gift of faith (Eph 2:8), not because he is convinced intellectually of the Bible’s truth.]

II. God is a Person.

Most people are somewhat religious. The existence of a supreme power makes sense to them, but they refuse to admit that this power is the God of the Bible. Many (such as those under the influence of Far Eastern mystical religions) have come to think of God as a force or controlling energy . The Bible is very clear, however, that He is a person.

A. The components of God’s personality

[By “personality” I don’t mean happy or outgoing or shy. I mean personhood. God is a person. He has the components of personality. ]

The Bible presents a complex view of personality, whether human or divine. Theologians sometimes differ as to what constitutes personality but usually agree that it involves three things, all three of which God does.

1. God thinks .

This is the function of the mind . As a thinking being, God possesses wisdom , understanding , and knowledge .

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place; by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.   Proverbs 3:19 20

2. God acts .

This is the function of the will . God does not act on impulse or in submission to the laws of nature. His actions are free and in keeping with His purposes .

From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.   Isaiah 46:11

[When we say that God is free, we mean that He is the only one who is truly unlimited in action. All other beings have limitations; God doesn’t. Although He is free to do anything He wills, He will only do those things that are in keeping with His purposes and character. There are things he can’t do: immoral things and impossible things (e.g., make a square circle).]

3. God feels .

This is the function of the emotions . The Bible is clear that our God feels a full range of emotions  from joy (Isaiah 62:5) to sorrow (Gen. 6:6) and from compassion (Psalm 145:8) to hate (Psalm 5:5).

B. The significance of God’s personality

The statement, “God is a person,” has critical implications for the Christian life. Consider the following:

1. The personality of God gives meaning to prayer .

The Christian actually communicates with God when he prays. Prayer is not a mechanical activity designed simply to obtain God’s favor, nor is it a mystical experience designed to make one feel good. Genuine prayer is heard and answered by a personal God.

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   Matthew 6:7 8

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.   1 Peter 5:7

2. The personality of God gives meaning to worship .

Whereas idols are inanimate and unresponsive, the God we worship is a person who is pleased with our praise and interacts with us.

To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared? Some pour out gold from their bags and weigh out silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith to make it into a god, and they bow down and worship it. They lift it to their shoulders and carry it; they set it up in its place, and there it stands. From that spot it cannot move. Though one cries out to it, it does not answer; it cannot save him from his troubles.   Isaiah 46:5 7

3. The personality of God gives meaning to service .

Duty imposed apart from personal involvement is empty and unfulfilling and soon becomes drudgery. The God we serve places duties upon us, yet is personally involved in our labors.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.   Colossians 1:29

III. God is a Triunity.

Christianity has traditionally taught the doctrine of the Trinity . The word “Triunity,” however, is a better expression. Triunity means that there is one God who eternally exists as three persons : the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This suggests:

A. The unity of the Godhead

Unlike the ancient pagans, who believed in many gods ( polytheism ), the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God ( monotheism ).

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.   Deuteronomy 6:4

B. The diversity of the Godhead

Without ceasing to be a unity, God exists as three persons. Each of these persons is fully and equally God.

[“Diversity” means difference or distinction. That is, there is a distinction between the members of the trinity. God the Father is not the same person as God the Son. The members of the Trinity are distinct, co-equal individuals, co-equal in essence but differing in function.]

The doctrine of the Triunity illustrates the incomprehensibility of God: He exists and may be truly known, but He can never be fully known.

[“Incomprehensible” means “not able to be fully understood.” Agnostics say that one can’t know anything about God. We don’t know everything about God, but we do know many things, and what we know is true.]

Learning to Live It

1. As you talk about your relationship with God to a family member, he smiles and says, “Though we might call it by different names  like ‘God,’ we are all part of the universal cosmic energy.” How would you show him that God is not just an energy?

by directing him to passages which show God to be a person

God has all the characteristics of a person. An energy or force cannot do the things God does.

2. You walk into a room in which there is an individual and some furniture. Are you more inclined to speak to the individual or to the furniture? Why?

the individual; because he or she is a person like you.

What implications does this have for prayer?

Since God is a person, we can and ought to talk to Him. We should talk to God because, as a person, He can respond. Prayer would be meaningless/impossible if God were just a power.

3. A co worker brings you a pamphlet one day and asks you to discuss its contents. It offers the following explanation of the doctrine of the Triunity:

The Bible calls God by the names Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That does not mean that He is three persons. Actually, these are the titles of three roles that He has filled. This can be understood in the same way that a man can say, “I am a father, son, and husband.” A man can truly be all three, but he is still a single person. So it is with God.

What would you say to your co worker?

Show him a passage (such as Matthew 3:16-17) in which all three persons of the Godhead are mentioned independently of one another. The above idea is called modalism–one God functions as different modes at different times. Refutation: All three members of the Godhead show up simultaneously, which would be impossible if the trinity was not true. We may not ever fully understand the doctrine of the Trinity. Yet the Bible clearly teaches the that the Trinity is a fact. We have to submit our own logic to the teaching of Scripture.

Biblical Foundations for Living: Teen Edition

Systematic Theology for Teens

Biblical Foundations for Living: Teen Edition

Now, freely available here is the Teen Edition of Biblical Foundations for Living.

bfl-teachers-edition-download bfl-students-edition-download


Table of Contents

Part One: Who Am I?

Section One: The Doctrine of God–Who am I? I am a finite creature who is responsible to the infinite Creator.

Section Two: The Doctrine of the Bible–Who am I? I am a recipient of the Bible, God’s communication to man.

Section Three: The Doctrine of Man–Who am I? I am a sinner who has offended the God who created me to reflect His image.

Section Four: The Doctrine of Christ–Who am I? I am an undeserving recipient of God’s love.

Section Five: The Doctrine of Salvation–Who am I? I am an obedient, growing servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Part Two: Why Am I Here?

(The Doctrine of the Church)

Section One: The Purpose of the Church–Why am I here? I am here to bring glory to God through the ministry of His Word.

Section Two: The Objectives of the Church–Why am I here? I am here to worship God, serve His children, and reach the lost.

Objective One: Edification

Objective Two: Evangelism

Objective Three: Expansion

Section Three: The Destiny of the Church–Why am I here? I am here to participate in the reign of Jesus Christ.

Is the 1611 KJV Bible God’s Only Inspired Word?

Is the 1611 King James Bible God’s Only Inspired Word?

In the early 1970s, a movement swept across the country. This is called the King James Only movement. Though not a new idea, a man by the name of Peter Ruckman began to aggressively teach that the 1611 King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the only inspired Bible. They commonly refer to every new version as “perversions.”

Just go to YouTube and search “KJV Only.” With few exceptions, you will notice from the profile of the video authors, this movement has basically affected only a generation of believers. Most of the creators are 40 and older. While most conservative Bible colleges and universities still use the KJV as their primary text, they are, for the most part, no longer King James Only.

What does the KJV Only crowd teach? Why do they make the claim that the KJV Bible is the only Bible people should use? They believe that the KJV Bible is God’s perfectly preserved Word and is based on the best Greek and Hebrew manuscripts to have ever existed. This article examines that position.

Is it correct that the KJV Bible contains no errors?

At least one person thinks so. “The King James Bible, AV 1611 is the preserved words of God. It has no errors, that means the text is perfect.” (Lawrence Bronsing, Peter Ruckman)

Already, the KJV has undergone many revisions. The KJV that most people have today is not the 1611, but a revised version that dates back to the 1800’s. The earliest known revision was made in 1612, one year after the original was printed. This was necessary because typographical errors were made.

Was it a surprise to those who translated the KJV that mistakes would be made? No. According to the preface in the 1611 Bible, the translators knew this was a possibility. “If anything be halting, or superfluous, or not so agreeable to the originall, the same may be corrected, and the trueth set in place.” “…some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting foorth of it.”1

Unlike the translators in 1611, the original authors of the Bible (Moses, Paul, John and many others) knew full well that what they were writing was guided by the hand of God. When they composed, they knew their work was Scripture. That is not true of the 1611 translators. While they performed a great task, they knew their humanity would pass errors along. Since the original translators of the 1611 KJV knew their work was open to scrutiny and there may be “some imperfections and blemishes,” why do we have a movement of people today that think otherwise? Simply, they have a distorted (or in many cases puerile) understanding of inspiration and preservation.

Is it true that the KJV Bible is based on superior Greek and Hebrew manuscripts?

James Jaspers Ray states that the Greek text behind the KJV (Textus Receptus {TR}) is made of the original Greek manuscripts that Paul the Apostle and others wrote. He says, “Any version of the Bible, that does not agree with the Greek Textus Receptus, from which the King James Bible was translated in 1611, is certainly to be founded upon corrupted manuscripts.”2 Is the TR really based on the best manuscripts?

A man named Erasmus gathered several manuscripts of the New Testament. Of all the manuscripts he had, not one of them contained the last six verses of Revelation. He translated those verses from the Latin Vulgate, not the Greek.

When Erasmus translated 1 John 5:7-8, several men charged him that he left out the phrase “…the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth…” He simply replied that no Greek manuscript was available to support the reading. A few days later a manuscript appeared. Was this “made to order?” Erasmus thought so, and included the phrase only as a marginal note. 3 Though Erasmus was diligent in compiling a Greek translation, he did so with the best resources available to him. Today, the resources are greater and more reliable, thus providing the basis for more reliable versions.

What does the Bible teach about translating, inspiration, and preservation?

So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused [them] to understand the reading. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them. (Nehemiah 8:8,12)

The Israel exiles returned to Jerusalem. During their 70 year captivity, their language changed. When Ezra (and the scribes) read from the book of the Law, it was necessary for Ezra to explain what was being read. The book of the Law was in Hebrew, however the people who returned to exile no longer understood everything in the older Hebrew. What was the response of the people? Was it, “You can’t do that to God’s Word!”? No, the people were able to understand God’s Word because it was updated to the language of their day. The response of the people was a repentant attitude from sin and obedience to God’s Word. The people understood the message, then they became changed individuals!

One comment that is made to support the sole use of the KJV is “The people through prayer and Holy Spirit illumination will understand the KJV!” If that is true, then why don’t people read the language of the originals–Greek and Hebrew? It is necessary to know the meaning, then the Holy Spirit has a tool by which to cause the Christian to understand how the Scriptures apply to their lives.

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)

Paul the Apostle wrote this verse 1500 years before the KJV was translated. The originals were “God-breathed.” Therefore, if a modern version is an accurate reflection of the original document, there is a sense in which the translation is inspired.

What about preservation? Doesn’t God promise in His Word that “not one jot or tittle shall pass away?” (Matthew 5:18) Yes, and that is true, not one has passed away! We have God’s Word. However, God did not promise that one manuscript or version would be preserved in this fashion. With the thousands of manuscripts and fragments in our possession today, God has given us His Word. We should take heed to God’s Word when He says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Practical KJV Only” Position

Many churches, colleges, and other institutions are declaring positions that the KJV is the only Bible to be used. While these same pastors and teachers may reject the KJV Only position, they are actually teaching by practice that the KJV is the Only Bible to use. This is problematic for at least a few reasons.

  1. If one demands that the KJV is the only translation to be used, then what real difference is there between this position and the KJV Only position?
  2. Instead of responding biblically to those who are KJV Only, this position concedes to them and allows them the freedom to propagate error.
  3. Conformity becomes the rule rather than unity to truth. Many good translations are available, why not teach the next generation about other reliable translations?


The translators of the KJV knew that the KJV itself would not be readily accepted. The Geneva Bible was the most widely circulated Bible in their day.6 The preface to the 1611 KJV says, “Many mens mouths have bene open a good while and yet are not stopped with speeches about the Translation so long in hand, or rather persuals of Translations made before…”

The purpose of this article is not to destroy one’s faith, but rather show that some modern translations are also reliable. The many books and pamphlets that are circulated today promoting the “KJV Only” position are actually destroying people’s faith. It is a divisive issue over which many Christians are confused. The KJV Only position is a heresy that must be combated. The proponents of this position are misleading sincere Christians by using poor logic, misguided facts and contentious language.4

For further study on this topic see:

James White, The King James Only Controversy

Donald Carson, The King James Version Debate

Jack Lewis, The English Bible from KJV to NIV

Bruce Metzger, The Test of the New Testament

  1. All words in these quotes are retained with their original spellings.
  2. J.J. Ray, “The New Eye Opener”, (Eugene, OR: The Eye Opener Publishers), p. 3.
  3. Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, (New York: Oxford University, 1968), p. 101.
  4. Some examples of this are found in the writings by Peter Ruckman. Note the recent publication called New Age Versions by Gail Riplinger. The presupposition of the book tries to link any translation, except the KJV, with the New Age phenomenon. The author of this book fails to recognize that most modern versions were made before the New Age Movement existed.

Assurance of Salvation

Assurance of Salvation

Barry Pendley

CHAPTER 1: Introduction

Recently, the topic of the assurance of salvation made a resurgence in many journal articles, books and debates. This issue is linked to the doctrines of Eternal Security and Perseverance, yet it hasn’t enjoyed the full development that these doctrines have undergone.

Probably the main reason for the current interest in the Assurance of Salvation is that it answers questions that lie deep within the mind of men and women. R.C. Sproul notes some of these questions and fears. “We fear His power, we fear His wrath, and most of all we fear His ultimate rejection.”1

However, the topic is not new. Men in history have pondered the same worries, and some fortunately answered those questions. Martin Luther was one of the men. “It is this uncertainty that drove [him] almost out of his mind before he came to understand the great truth of justification by faith alone.”2 Luther, Calvin and many other post-Reformation teachers developed this doctrine based on their study of the Word of God.3 Further statements and confessions elucidated the doctrine of assurance. By 1677, the Second London Confession expansion of the First, produced the first extant article on the Assurance of Salvation.4

John Wesley also preached and wrote on the subject. He was so effective that he is considered “the principal exponent of assurance in the eighteenth century.”5 Yet, John Wesley promoted a view that was inconsistent with Scripture and the very nature of God’s salvation. Wesley put fears and undermining doubts into many Christian’s minds concerning their future destiny. This is not to say that Wesley is alone responsible for this tragedy, the Romanists and other groups negate the possibility of assurance.

The Bible teaches that it is possible to have a complete assurance of salvation, and one can and must attain it. This will be decided throughout this study by examining the passages of Scripture pertaining to full assurance. God’s Word presents assurance as a possibility and benefit of a sure salvation. As well, lack of assurance indicates a person’s failure in understanding or applying the responsibilities of salvation, or even a lack of salvation in the first place.

CHAPTER 2: You Can Have Assurance

Some systems have the tendency to eradicate any thought of assurance (i.e.. Roman Catholicism and Arminianism). They do so by redefining assurance. Also, they claim that man, weak, frail, and sickly, cannot have complete assurance. This may reflect a theology that includes man as an initiator or completer in the salvation process. Yet, man can have full assurance. This is both “possible and desirable.”6

Definition of Assurance

The possibility of assurance is carefully and precisely presented in God’s Word. It is necessary to identify the terms used, as well as construct a working definition for assurance.

Biblical Words

“Guarantee” Bebaio”

This term has a figurative and literal usage in the Bible. Literally, it is used of an anchor (Heb 6:19). Figuratively, the word means reliable or dependable.7 By the fifth century, the word became recognized and used as a legal term.8

It is no surprise that the Apostle Paul uses the legal emphasis of Bevbaio” to refer to the promise of faith (Rom 4:16). This is a legal guarantee of the promise of the gospel and it’s benefits – both to Gentiles and Jews alike. Assurance of that promise is possible based on this legal promise and the dependability of the promise maker – God Himself.

“Know” Oida

The second word, oida, is by far, the most used term in this list. BAGD identifies five usages of the term. First, it can refer to “knowing something or someone.” Second, it is used of an “intimate relationship.” Third, it means “understand how” something is done or appears. Fourth, simply to recognize someone or something. Fifth, refers to taking an interest in someone or something.9

Oida is employed in the first usage by the Apostle John in his first Epistle to “furnish the groundwork” of assurance of salvation10. This knowledge is always listed with modes of practical behavior and demands obedience to it (1 John 1:6; 2:3).11 The Holy Spirit gives this knowledge fully as a gift to the believer (1 John 2:20; 3:24).12 Therefore, the knowledge of one’s assurance will have a profound effect on his behavior and vice versa. Knowledge of one’s assurance is therefore possible and extremely crucial to further obedience.

“Full Assurance” Plhroforevw

The final word is a verb which means “to convince fully.”13 Thayer states that it is “to fill one with any thought or conviction.”14 The noun Plhroforiva is used by Paul in reference to one’s acceptance of the gospel. “. . . because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction [plhroforiva ] (1 Thess 1:5) This deep conviction is possible and necessary. ”Purified [by the Work of Christ] the Christian can stand with ‘full confidence’ before God.”15 This is a theme that is presented in Scripture regarding one’s salvation (Rom 4:21; Col 2:2; Heb 6:11; 10:22).

A Working Definition

Since Calvin, many have confused the meaning of assurance of salvation. Calvin himself doesn’t make a distinction between saving faith and the confidence of that faith.16 While it is understood that assurance arises out of salvation, and they are inseparable (as the Puritans held), assurance can be thwarted, whereas salvation cannot.17 Zane Hodges ties assurance to saving faith18 and confuses the two19. Some say that “. . .it is possible to speak of an extremely high degree of assurance of salvation.”20 Is assurance limited from being complete assurance?

All three Greek words, Bevbaio”, Oi\da, and Plhroforevw, indicate an unwavering, certain assurance. Bevbaio” identifies a “legal guarantee” that secures faith. Oi\da refers to the cognitive possibility of complete assurance. Plhroforevw, probably the most descriptive of the three terms, denotes a super-abounding assurance that is completely filled. Therefore, an assurance that cannot be complete is alien to the usages of these three terms. How then, does one define assurance? Assurance is a believer’s full knowledge that he or she is legally secure in God’s family for eternity.

You Can Experience Assurance

It would be presumptuous to think that this is the continuing experience of every Christian, unfortunately it is not. At the conception of salvation, full assurance is initiated. One cannot say that there was a lack of assurance at the moment of salvation and maintain they are saved. The experience of every true Christian at salvation is a result of a practical cognitive response, not just mere factual intake.21 This issues into an experience that reflects a personal relationship with Christ.22

After salvation, a person is confronted with his old world. Emotional pressures, sin, and weakness create doubt in the Christian’s mind. If a true believer lives with unconfessed sin, his experience will not be “normal.”23 Nor will it be unusual for a Christian to have frequent battles against doubts.24 Beeke notes, “Pastorally, it is critical to maintain that justifying faith and the experience of doubt often coexist.”25 If these doubts are handled correctly, a person can have the ability to experience complete assurance.

Although many do not have complete assurance, that does not preclude others from having that assurance. Demarest provides an insightful illustration of the possibility of assurance.

If a president should pardon a convicted criminal, it is proper that he should bring this to the person’s attention. Similarly, if God freely forgives our sins, we should expect that he will assure us of this fact.26

One is able to experience assurance. This is a possibility because assurance is based on firm grounds.27

Your Assurance is Based on Firm Grounds

The Five Arminian Articles, in Article 5, challenge the possibility of complete assurance by stating:

. . . only if they [Christians] are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling . . . they are capable through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ.28

Arminian Theology bases salvation on man’s works. Therefore, this statement is consistent with their belief. Unfortunately, it is entirely unbiblical. Assurance of Salvation, as well as Salvation are both gifts of God. Assurance is provided by means of the Holy Spirit and is not subject to human will, but rather God’s intended purposes.29 “If salvation depends in any degree on personal goodness, there could not be even a saved person in the world, and therefore, not ground in it for assurance.”30 Even though feelings and other “subjective phenomena” provide a sense of security, they are not true grounds for complete assurance, nevertheless “strong assurance.”31 What are the grounds of assurance?

The Westminster Confession of Faith, XIV.III. states.

This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong, may be often and many ways assailed and weakened, but gets the victory; growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.32

Ultimately, the whole basis of assurance goes back to the faithfulness of God. God’s faithfulness extends to man in three different avenues: The Word of God (God’s Self-Revelation); The Inner Witness of the Holy Spirit (God’s Comforter); and perseverance (Christian’s Progress).33 Peterson writes,

To stress the Word and downplay the other foundations is to risk easy believism and antinomianism. To emphasize the Spirit and minimize the Word and perseverance is to fall into subjectivism and mysticism. To look to perseverance while neglecting the other foundations is to invite merit theology and legalism.34

God’s faithfulness is in view in all three areas. Man can and will default. Yet, the grounds for assurance is sure and never wavering. Assurance is possible because God makes it possible. God provides salvation and the attendant assurance forever. This is not based on man’s faithfulness, but God’s.


Complete assurance of one’s salvation is possible. The Bible presents assurance in terminology that indicates full assurance. Also, if a person is truly a believer, he or she has already experienced full assurance. Although, that assurance may wane because of internal or external influence, complete assurance is again possible. Lastly, since assurance is based on God’s faithfulness, a believer must be aware of this extension of grace. The Christian must remain responsible to this faithful God and maintain his assurance.

CHAPTER 3: You Must Maintain Your Assurance

God is faithful and provides the grounds for one’s assurance. Yet, this is not to be treated lightly. A believer has certain responsibilities. Once again, the age old debate arises. How does one reconcile God’s sovereign control with man’s responsibility? Carson has coined a term called “Compatibilism” to deal with this problem. He states, first, “God is absolutely sovereign but his sovereignty does not in any way mitigate human responsibility.” Second, “human beings are responsible creatures, but their responsibility never serves to make God . . . contingent.”35

As noted previously, a believer may experience a loss of assurance. Many reasons exist for this problem. Some problems are doubt, the procedure of salvation, wrong theology, or unconfessed sin.036 Some corrective procedures have been suggested. Chafer states, “If need be, note the very day and hour of such a decision and then believe in the decision itself . . .”37 John MacArthur finds eleven “test questions” in 1 John to bring one back to full assurance.38 Meanwhile, Robert Gromacki identifies twelve “test questions” in the same book.39 Are these steps comprehensive enough? Not according to Scripture. Carson writes, “Anyone who applies exactly the same spiritual remedy to these diverse ailments ought to have his license as a spiritual physician immediately rescinded.”40

Looking back to the grounds for one’s assurance, a believer can maintain assurance by conviction of the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God, resulting in perseverance through life.

Produced by the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit plays an very important role in the lives of believers. Often, His role is misstated as an emotional experience, or overlooked with intellectual pride. Without the Spirit, a Christian would have doubts, fears, and hopelessness about the assurance of his salvation.

The Holy Spirit’s Role in His Witness

Two passages of Scripture, combined, explicitly state that the Holy Spirit is the agent of maintaining assurance.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, `Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:15-17)

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, `Abba, Father’. (Galatians 4:6)

Based on Romans 8:15 alone, it is difficult to dogmatically prove that the “Spirit of sonship” is the Holy Spirit. Paul does say later in the parallel passage of Galatians 4:6 that this Spirit is the Holy Spirit.

The status of sonship is granted to the believer as a benefit of his salvation. Uo{qesia [sonship] “indicates a new family relation with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities.”41 The Arminian would like to see the believer participating in this act of adoption. John Wesley, a proponent of Arminian thought, “distinguished between the witness of the Holy Spirit and the witness of a believer’s spirit.”42 This is merely an attempt to remain consistent within that system. Man does not participate with God to effect one’s salvation, nor salvation’s benefits – namely the witness of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s argument is proving that the Holy Spirit, given by God, provides assurance.

This does raise a question that is impossible to fully answer. What is the relationship between the Spirit’s testimony and one’s understanding of that testimony? One cannot rely on an emotional response to indicate whether the Holy Spirit is really bearing witness. This witness is not divorced from one’s intellect. It is not proper to think that God will propositionally reveal to a believer that he is a child of God.43 This witness results in a firm conviction within a believer that he is a child of God. Douglas Moo notes that Paul’s purpose is to show that one who possesses the Holy Spirit, will accordingly respond with some emotion; not vice versa.44 Hawkes aptly explains, “The Christian receives assurance through the exercise of his faculties, as the Spirit provides evidence of faith within the believer and also enables the reason to understand this evidence.”45

The Holy Spirit’s Role in Conviction

Another aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work involves the conviction of the believer. The Bible says, “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” (1 John 3:24). Obedience is a very important part of maintaining a right relationship with God. When a believer disobeys, God works through the Holy Spirit to correct the believer. This is a benefit of the Holy Spirit’s witness. The Holy Spirit convicts the intellect through the Word of God and brings one back into a right relationship with the Father. Note that “. . .the Spirit’s testimony is always tied to, and may never contradict the Word of God.”46

King David in the Old Testament was not a perfect man. He had some terrible sins in his life that would commit many believers into deep spiritual problems. Yet through the Word of God, his conscience was pricked, and he repented. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” (Psalms 119:92)

Employed by the Word of God

The question may be raised, “If the Holy Spirit is the witness to the believer, how does the Holy Spirit objectively compel one to have complete assurance?.”

God has communicated to man through the propositional truths of the Word of the Scriptures. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1) Also, these truths are necessary for teaching and correcting man. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) Lastly, the only way a man can understand the Word of God is by the aid of the Holy Spirit. “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

Since the Bible is the only way God communicates to man, it follows that it is only through the Word of God that assurance of salvation comes. “The Spirit gives His testimony with the Word and through the Word, never against the Word or without the Word.”47 If one is diligent in the study and the application of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will illumine that individual not only to understand the truths of Scripture, but to experience the benefits of the Spirit’s witness in complete assurance of salvation.

Exhibited by Perseverance

This presents another question. “If one has been saved, and is reading the Scriptures, but shows a pattern of consistent habitual sin, can that person have assurance?”

Historically, the Puritans had a primitive concept of assurance. They were developing the doctrine from the theology that was set forth by the Reformers. One way a Puritan was taught to attain assurance of salvation was to “diligently seek for it through the means of grace.”48 This however is not definitive and is open to speculation regarding the exact nature and outworking of the “means of grace.” This could be interpreted to assume that one could sin so that “grace may abound.” The Apostle Paul rejects this theology. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning, so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1)

Since the Puritans, developments have been made both negatively and positively. One group, namely the Grace Evangelical Society, attempts to establish the thought that assurance is a right given to every believer, no questions asked, no perseverance needed.49 Others, have been very instructive regarding perseverance and it’s relation to the believer.50

Zane Hodges a teacher within the Grace Evangelical Society realm believes that a Christian can live a life of habitual sin while maintaining complete assurance of his salvation. To prove his point, he twists the intent and significance of Scripture.

Case in point. Hodges claims that the purpose of the epistle of 1 John is “fellowship with God.” Further, he says that 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life,” is not a purpose of the Epistle.51 This is misleading and over simplifying the purpose of 1 John. He distorts the significance of Scripture because his premise is faulty.

A proper approach finds that assurance and perseverance are inseparable. A person who thinks that it is possible to entertain assurance, yet lives a lifestyle contrary to the Word of God deceives himself. (1 John 2:3) John MacArthur writes, “. . .some people have assurance who have no right to it.”52


The paradox between God’s Divine Sovereignty and man’s responsibility must be maintained. Failure to acknowledge that man has a responsibility leads to laxity in a Christian’s life.

God provided salvation and the assurance of salvation. First, the Holy Spirit is the witness to the believer that he is saved. Thus, assurance is a result of the Spirit’s witness. Second, the Holy Spirit assures man only in accordance with God’s Word. Any assurance that is based on any external experience that is contradictory to God’s Word is not assurance at all. Last, Man will never lose salvation. Although, he may lose assurance of that salvation due to sinful activity. That is why commands such as “be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 1:5)

CHAPTER 4: Summary & Conclusion

Throughout the history of Christianity, many have debated the doctrines of the Bible. One subject that is in the forefront of many debates is the subject of Salvation. It is an issue that touches lives as no other philosophy, idea or doctrine can. One great benefit of Salvation is the assurance that it provides concerning one’s own destiny.

Some (ie. Romanists) regard the assurance of Salvation as an attack on man’s rationality. Others regard assurance as only a mere chance. Yet, some regard assurance as a Christian’s right that is always present.

You can have complete assurance of your salvation. The Bible is clear to note that once you have repented of your sin, thus becoming a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17), the Holy Spirit gives assurance of salvation.

Over time, the pressures of daily life and the desires of the “old nature” may drift you away from this assurance. Even though your salvation is completely secure, you may think that it is not. The Holy Spirit provides a witness to the believer. This witness works through the Word of God to convict and bring a believer back to a sanctified life. If you remain satisfied in a state of unrepentance, you were never saved in the first place; thus, giving no grounds for assurance. Although, if a you are convicted to repent and do so, then assurance may be experienced once again by sanctification.

Assurance is a benefit of salvation that can and must be maintained. Failure to do so reveals a neglect of responsibility on the Christian’s behalf.


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________. “The Function of the Paraclete in John 16:7-11.” Journal of Biblical Literature 98 (Winter 1979): 547-566.

Chafer, Lewis. Systematic Theology. 8 vols. Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948.

________. Salvation: A Clear Doctrinal Analysis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1945.

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Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. S.v. “Assurance,” by B. Demarest.

Gerstner, John. “True & False Assurance.” Table Talk (February 1992): 10-12.

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Hawkes, R. M. “The Logic of Assurance in English Puritan Theology.” Westminster Theological Journal 52 (1990): 247-261.

Hiebert, D. Edmond. “Romans 8:28-28 and the Assurance of the Believer.” Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (April-June 1991): 170-83.

________. “An Exposition of 1 John 1:5-2:6.” Bibliotheca Sacra 145 (July 1988): 329-42.

Hodges, Zane. “We Believe in: Assurance of Salvation.” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society 3 (Autumn 1990): 3-17.

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________. The Epistle to the Romans. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977.

Nicole, Roger. “The Priviledge of Assurance.” Table Talk (February 1992): 7-9.

New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. S.v. “Firm,” by H. Schönweiss.

________. S.v. “Knowledge,” by E.D. Schmitz.

Peterson, Robert. “Christian Assurance: Its Possibility and Foundations.” Presbyterion 8 (Spring 1992): 10-24.

________. “The Perseverance of the Saints: A Theological Exegesis of Four Key New Testament Passages.” Presbyterion 17 (Summer 1991): 95-112.

________. “Perseverance and Apostasy: A Bibliographic Essay.” Presbyterion 16 (Summer 1990): 119-125.

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Rienecker, Fritz, and Cleon Rogers. Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980.

Ryle, J. C. Assurance and Doubts.

Ryrie, Charles. Basic Theology. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986.

Schaff, Philip. The Creeds of Christendom: With a History and Critical Notes. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985.

Sproul, R. C. “Fear Not.” Table Talk (February 1992): 4-6.

Strong, Augustus. Systematic Theology. Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1907.

Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. N.d. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. S.v. “,” by Seeseman.

________. S.v. “Plhroforevw,” by Delling.

Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology. S.v. “Assurance,” by Rupert Davies.

WillIquette, Scott. “On What Basis Can I Be Sure?: A Study of Christian Assurance.” Th.M. dissertation, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 1993.

Yohn, Rick. Living Securely in an Unstable World. Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985.

1R.C. Sproul, “Fear Not.” Table Talk (February 1992): 4.

2Roger Nicole, “The Privilege of Assurance.” Table Talk (February 1992): 8.

3Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, s.v. “Assurance,” by B. Demarest, p. 92.

4William Lumpkin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1969), p. 274.

5Westminster Dictionary of Christian Theology, s.v. “Assurance,” by Rupert Davies, pp. 48-9.

6Anthony Hoekema, Saved by Grace, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), p. 149.

7BAGD, p. 138.

8NIDNTT, s.v. “Firm,” by H. Schönweiss, 1:658.

9BAGD, pp. 555-6

10ISBE, s.v. “Assurance,” by D.M. Pratt, 3:32.

11NIDNTT, “Knowledge”, by E.D. Schmitz, 2:399.

12TDNT, s.v. “Oi\da,” by Seeseman, 5:119.

13BAGD, p. 670.

14Thayer, Lexicon, p. 517.

15TDNT, s.v. “Plhroforiva,” by Delling, 6:311.

16Hoekema, Saved by Grace, p. 148.

17R.M. Hawkes, “The Logic of Assurance in English Puritan Theology.” WTJ 52 (1990): 250.

18D.A. Carson, “Reflections on Christian Assurance.” WTJ 54 (1992): 6.

19D. Edmond Hiebert, “Romans 8:28-28 and the Assurance of the Believer.” BibSac 148 (April-June 1991): 8.

20Encyclopedia of Biblical Theology. s.v. “Assurance of Salvation,” by J. Kurzinger, p. 50. also; Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985), p. 548.

21D. Edmond Hiebert, “An Exposition of 1 John 1:5-2:6,” BibSac 145 (July 1988): 341.

22Lewis Chafer, “Assurance,” Systematic Theology, (Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), p. 22.

23Ibid, p. 23.

24John Court, “Blessed Assurance?”, JTS 33 (October 1982): 509.

25Joel Beeke, “Personal Assurance of Faith: The Puritans and Chapter 18.2.” WTJ 55 (1993): 6.

26Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, p. 91.

27Chafer, Systematic Theology, p. 21

28Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, p. 548.

29Augustus Strong, Systematic Theology, (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 1907), p. 883.

30Lewis Chafer, Salvation: A Clear Doctrinal Analysis, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1945), p. 57.

31Beeke, “Personal Assurance of Faith,”, p. 13.

32Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, p. 631.

33Robert Peterson, “Christian Assurance: Its Possibility and Foundations,” Presbyterion 8 (Spring 1992): 22.


35Carson, D.A. “Reflections on Christian Assurance,” p. 22.

36Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1986), p. 329.

37Chafer, Salvation, p. 58.

38John MacArthur, Jr., Saved Without a Doubt, (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1992), pp. 67-91.

39Robert Gromacki, Salvation is Forever, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1973), pp. 177-183.

40Carson, “Reflections on Christian Assurance,” p. 28.

41Fritz Rienecker and Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980), p. 365.

42Rick Yohn, Living Securely in an Unstable World, (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1985), p. 49.

43John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans. NICNT, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977), p. 297.

44Douglas Moo, Romans 1-8. WEC (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), p. 538.

45Hawkes, “The Logic of Assurance in English Puritan Theology,” p. 256.

46Beeke, “Personal Assurance,” p. 28.

47Sproul, “Fear Not,” p. 5.

48Beeke, “Personal Assurance of Faith”, p. 9.

49See the “We Believe in. . .” series in the Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. This trend is easily noticed.

50See Peterson’s Articles in the Presbyterion 1990-1991.

52Zane Hodges, “We Believe in: Assurance of Salvation.” JGES 3 (Autumn 1990): 5.

52MacArthur, Saved Without a Doubt, p. 8.

Lordship Salvation: Profession vs. Possession

Lordship Salvation: Profession vs. Possession

False or Incomplete Gospels

Easy-believism is a dangerous doctrine because it produces false professions of faith, fills the church with unbelievers, and gives a false sense of security to those who may be lost.

Primary teachings of easy-believism

Salvation is based purely on belief or faith.”

Anyone who believes in Jesus is saved. Faith is defined as simply believing the facts of the Gospel. Faith is a purely intellectual activity.

Repentance is not required for salvation.”

Some re-define repentance to mean a simple change of mind from unbelief to belief. Others assert that no kind of repentance is necessary at all.

Submission to the Lordship of Christ is not required for salvation.”

One need only trust Christ as Savior at the point of salvation; at some later point, one may recognize Him as Lord. Ideas like commitment, submission, and loyalty have no place in an evangelistic invitation.

Nothing about the costs of salvation is mentioned in an evangelistic invitation.”

The evangelist mentions only the benefits of salvation and the ease of attaining it.

Since believing in Jesus is so easy, one need not go into much depth or take much time when communicating the Gospel.”

One need only agree that he is a sinner and that Jesus is the Savior to be saved.

Since belief in Jesus is all that is necessary for salvation, the evangelist is encouraged to use any and all methods to generate belief.”

No evidence of salvation need follow belief.”

One may live his entire Christian life in bondage to sin. Such believers are carnal Christians – they are believers who have never grown in their faith or shown any fruit of salvation. Believers may even renounce their profession of faith and still be Christians. Easy-believism states that as long as a person believed in Christ at some point in time, then he is saved, whether or not that belief continues. The believer need not persevere in faith or good works. As long as one claims to believe, others must acknowledge that he is a Christian.

In 1983, a man by the name of R.T. Kendall wrote: Whoever once believes that Jesus was raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he dies. But I will not stop there. Such a person will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.1 Later, he expanded on this saying: “I therefore state categorically that the person who is saved – who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes in his heart that God raised Him from the dead – will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith. In other words, no matter what sin (or absence of Christian obedience) may accompany such faith.

There are two classes of Christians: carnal and spiritual.”

Carnal Christians continue to exhibit sinful attitudes and behaviors just as they did before they were saved. Spiritual Christians have made a decision at some point after salvation to commit or devote themselves to Christ. It is only after this decision that the believer is able to make progress spiritually. Regular Christians are believers; committed Christians are disciples. Discipleship is not required of regular believers.

Assurance of salvation is based only on the promises of Scripture.”

Since God says He will save those who believe, one must simply trust that what God says is true. If one doubts his salvation, he simply looks back to his decision to believe Jesus.

Standing in stark contrast to easy-believism is an idea that some call Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation takes the opposite view to all the ideas stated above.

Primary Teachings of Lordship Salvation:

Faith is more than mere intellectual assent to the Gospel. Faith is a total-person response (intellect, emotion and will) to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

  1. Repentance is a necessary part of the response to the Gospel. (See Lesson Eight)
  2. Submission to the Lordship of Christ is a required part of faith. Words such as commitment, submission, and loyalty are perfectly suitable when describing saving faith. (See Lesson Nine)
  3. The evangelist carefully discusses the costs of discipleship. Jesus called his disciples to take up a cross and follow Him. He called them to leave everything. He insisted on first place (Matt 10:34–38; Lk 14:26–33; Jn 12:25). One cannot invite a sinner to Christ without telling him the costs involved.
  4. The evangelist takes all the time necessary to carefully discuss the issues involved in conversion to Christ. He wants to reduce the possibility of a false profession of faith.
  5. The evangelist uses only those methods that are in keeping with the character of God and with the evangelistic task. Since preaching is the primary means of proclaiming the gospel (1 Cor 1:18f), preaching is the focus.

Evidence of salvation will always follow true conversion.”

New creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17) will give evidence of their new spiritual state by a radical change in attitudes and behaviors. Lack of spiritual fruit is evidence of a lost condition (Matt 7:15–20). Lordship salvation teaches that true believers will persevere (continue) in the faith and good works. They may backslide for a time, but they will not ultimately reject Christ. Lordship salvation does not teach sinless perfection, but it does expect to see some fruit of repentance.

Evidences of salvation from 1 John: Characteristics of true believers

  1. walk in the light (1:6–7). They display Christ-like behaviors and attitudes.
  2. are sensitive about sin. They confess and forsake it (1:8–10).
  3. are obedient (2:3–5, 29). Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.”
  4. love other believers (3:10–15, 5:1–2). No love = no salvation.
  5. affirm sound doctrine (2:20-23). They are orthodox.
  6. follow after holiness (2:29, 3:6-9). They are not sinless, but they are striving to cease from sin and follow the Lord.

The idea that a true believer can continue in a carnal state is false.

There are not two categories of believers. All Christians are disciples and should strive to fulfill the biblical characteristics of a true disciple. A Christian will continue to struggle with sin (see Rom 7), but he will also make progress in his desire to be more like Christ. Those who continue in sin and/or who fall away were never truly saved in the first place (1 John 2:19).

Assurance of salvation is based on the evidence, not on a simple profession of faith.

Those who have no evidence of salvation can have no assurance. Many who claim to be saved are not.

Matt 7:21–23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Titus 1:15–16 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

1 John 2:4–6 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.


While we want to see people respond to the gospel, we dare not stoop to the level of easy-believism. Salvation is free but it’s not cheap. Jesus told us to count the costs. It’s a misrepresentation to preach an easy, superficial, undemanding “gospel.”

For Further Discussion:

1. Is it likely that you can lead someone to a saving knowledge of Christ in five minutes?

It’s possible if the person is ready, understands, and is under conviction, but it’s not likely to happen regularly.

2. What’s the danger of attaching a physical response to an invitation to be saved?

Someone might confuse the two – i.e., think he is saved because he participated in a physical act. This is especially true of children. They are often susceptible to peer pressure and suggestion, and desire to gain the leader’s approval. So they’ll do whatever the speaker asks, even if they don’t understand the Gospel.

3. What are the bases of assurance of salvation?

Believing the right doctrine, behaving the right way and the internal witness of the Holy Spirit.

4. Why is it important to tell people the costs associated with salvation?

1. Because Jesus told us to; 2. To prevent false professions; 3. To be honest.

1 R. T. Kendall, Once Saved, Always Saved (Chicago: Moody, 1983) 19 (emphasis in original).

Ibid., 52–53.

.“he cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of his true followers. It destroys the old pattern . . . in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins. . . . We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do – flee it or die upon it.” A.W. Tozer, The Roots of Righteousness, pp. 61–63. Quoted in Faith Works, p. 205 .

Lesson 12: Mormonism

Lesson 12: Mormonism

Thus far we’ve looked at several movements and philosophies that are highly antagonistic toward biblical Christianity. Unfortunately, some movements exist that claim to be Christian but are really anti-Christian. Such groups are often called “cults.” One of the most successful and influential of the pseudo-Christian cults is Mormonism.

Historical Background: Joseph Smith, the father of Mormonism, was born in 1805 in Vermont. In 1820, Smith allegedly received a marvelous vision in which God the Father and God the Son appeared to him and announced that a restoration of true Christianity was needed, and that Smith had been chosen as the leader of this new dispensation. He was told that all other churches were wrong and that their creeds were an abomination. A few years later, the angel Moroni supposedly revealed that golden plates had been buried in Smith’s neighborhood near Palmyra, New York, back in AD 421. Smith supposedly found the plates by using “peep stones,” magical rocks he put in a hat. The characters on the plates were supposedly written in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics. Smith claimed he translated the plates by using “Urim and Thummim,” a set of miraculous glasses. The golden plates supposedly disappeared soon thereafter. This book was published in 1830, and is known as the Book of Mormon.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) was organized in 1830 with six members. The group moved to Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, where they established the city of Nauvoo. In 1844, Smith was jailed after he ordered his followers to burn down the local newspaper press. A mob broke into the jail and killed him. Afterwards, the church broke up into several factions, the largest of which followed Brigham Young, who led the Mormons on the trek to Utah, which was then Mexican territory. They settled in Salt Lake City, the current headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The temple and many administrative buildings are there. That whole area of the country is heavily Mormon.

The Book of Mormon: The Book of Mormon contains the story of two migrations to America, one in 2250 B.C. and the other in 600 B.C. The first group traveled from the tower of Babel to Central America, but later all perished. The second group, including Lehi (a Jewish prophet) and his family, migrated to South America and prospered. Nephi and Laman, were two of Lehi’s sons. Because the Lamanites rebelled against God they were cursed with dark skin. These are the ancestors of the American Indians. The Nephites obeyed God. The Lamanites killed all the Nephites, except Moroni, in AD 421. Moroni’s father, Mormon, was the writer of the golden plates.

Mormons claim that the Book of Mormon is “another witness” to the truths of the Christian gospel. Upon investigation, one will find that the Book of Mormon is one grand myth. It’s full of plagiarism, anachronisms and false prophecies. All the evidence points to the unavoidable conclusion that the Book of Mormon is really a piece of nineteenth-century fiction. Whatever else it is, it cannot be divine revelation.

Smith also wrote two other books, The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrines and Covenants. The key points of Mormon doctrine taught in these books are absent from, or contradicted by, both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. In addition, since Mormons believe in continuing revelation, new books approved by the President can be published by or for the church and be considered authoritative.

Mormons not only claim to be Christians, but to be the only true Christians. According to them, the early Christian church went through an apostasy, lost the true teaching of God, and is built on a Bible that, they say, is translated incorrectly and missing many books. Interestingly, while LDS Church president Gordon Hinckley assured the press that ‘‘[t]he New Testament is a fundamental scripture for us,’’ he failed to point out the Mormons’ bias against the Bible. Article 8 of the Mormon Articles of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it has been translated correctly.” This approach allows Mormons to ignore key Bible passages which refute Mormon doctrines. Bible verses used to counter Mormon teachings are brushed off in favor of passages from the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures (as well as ongoing revelation that may change previous LDS Church teachings).

The LDS Church has published its own version of the King James Bible, incorporating footnotes from Joseph Smith’s “inspired version” of the Bible. This version supposedly edits and corrects the King James text. However, in spite of their efforts at revisionism, Mormons have not been able to support their claims as to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. History and archeology refute Mormon allegations regarding the Bible and the course of Christianity. Far from showing us so-called “restored truth,” the Book of Mormon is filled with anachronisms, and the names of cities and coins that have never been found to have existed.

Distinctive Mormon Practices: baptism for the dead; holy underwear; polygamy (Smith had about 50 wives; Young had 27); eternal marriage; the ability of humans to become gods; the Trinity as three separate Gods; mother goddesses (heavenly mothers); temple marriages as a requirement for exaltation to receive eternal life; and salvation in the spirit world after death. They portray a lifestyle of clean-living, family-orientation, and conservative politics. They abstain from caffeinated drinks. Many college-age Mormons go on a two year proselytizing “mission.”

Organization: The Mormon Church is directed by its General Authorities. At the top is the First Presidency assisted by a Counsel of Twelve “apostles,” the First Quorum of the Seventy, and other administrative groups. Mormonism recognizes two priesthoods, the Aaronic (lesser) and the Melchizedek (higher). Every male Mormon 12 years old and over belongs to one of the priesthoods. Church administration is divided into territories made up of “wards” and “stakes.” Each ward is presided over by a bishop and two counselors. The Mormon Church is a very large, well-organized, wealthy organization. They usually go into a community, build a very nice building, and start services. Mormon congregations are often made up of former members of Protestant churches.

Mormon False Doctrine: Mormons want you to think they are very similar to mainline Christian groups. They’ll use familiar words and assure you that they are Christians. However, Mormonism has little in common with genuine Christianity. It is a dangerous cult that is leading millions of people down the path to hell.

  1. There are many gods. The gods have appointed one to be God over the earth. He has a physical body. A popular Mormon saying is “As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.” The god of the earth gradually attained godhood by living a perfectly righteous life. Each god has a father and a grandfather, etc.

  2. Jesus is the first of God’s many children. Jesus is the physical son of God. He is also the spirit brother of Lucifer. There is nothing in Jesus’ life more than what is attainable by anyone else.

  3. Prior to physical birth, everyone had an existence in heaven as a spirit-child. Each spirit is then born physically into a family on earth and is kept from remembering their former existence.

  4. Salvation is through faith and works. General salvation is provided for all men through Christ by grace alone whether they believe in God or not and includes resurrection. Individual salvation to receive eternal life is only attained through faith plus works.

  5. Everyone will be resurrected and spend eternity in one of three kingdoms or heavens, the Celestial (highest–only for devout Mormons), the Terrestrial (middle–for non-Mormon Christians and “good” people in general), or the Telestial (for dishonest and immoral people). They believe there is a hell reserved for Satan and the “sons of perdition,” that is, those who have committed the unpardonable sin (identified mainly as those who leave the Mormon Church). Devout Mormons can progress to become gods themselves and rule over and populate a planet just like Heavenly Father does on earth.

Refutation of Mormon Doctrine: These ideas are so obviously unbiblical that they are easily refuted.

  1. There is only one God, not many (Isa 43:10-11, 45:21-22).

  2. God is an eternal Spirit (John 4:24). He has never been a man and does not change.

  3. Jesus is the eternal, not the physical, Son of God (Col 1:15-18). He is not the spirit brother of Lucifer, but rather created him.

  4. Man has no existence prior to conception.

  5. Salvation is by grace through faith, not through works (Eph 2:8-9).

  6. Those who trust in Christ for salvation will spend eternity with God in heaven. Those who reject the gospel will suffer eternal torment in hell (Matt 25:46; Rev 20:15). There is only one heaven, not three.

Conclusion: The strength of the Mormon church is in the commitment of its adherents, in the positive image projected by its dedicated young missionaries and in the healthy family life displayed by the Mormon community. However, people who take the Bible as their sole authority in matters of faith and practice can readily conclude that Mormonism is a dangerous cult that contradicts genuine Christianity in many significant ways.


  1. Who was the founder of Mormonism? Joseph Smith

  2. Who led the Mormons to Utah? Brigham Young

  3. What is the book that details the lives of the Nephites and the Lamanites? The book of Mormon

  4. What makes Mormonism attractive? Family-orientation, conservative politics, good administration, overall positive reputation, nice buildings, entertaining activities, etc.

  5. How close is Mormonism to genuine Christianity? Not too close. It contradicts historic Christian doctrine on most points. Mormonism is hostile to Christianity.