The Ascension of Christ

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The resurrection body of the Lord Jesus Christ went from a point just outside Jerusalem all the way to the third heaven.Acts 1:1-11

Once He arrived in heaven, Jesus Christ was seated at the right hand of God the Father. This is called His session. Psalm 110:1; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22.

The ascension and session of Christ form the basis for His total victory in the conflict with Satan. Heb. 1:3-13.

The ascension and session of Christ begin a new phase in this conflict. Eph. 1:20-22; 4:7ff. Therefore, the believer of the church age is involved in the intensified stages of this warfare. Eph. 6:10-18, the armor of God.

The ascension and session of Christ are the beginning of the march to victory culminating in the crushing of the head of Satan, when Satan is made the footstool of Christ. This is prophesied in Psalm 110:1 and quoted in Luke 20:42,43; Acts 2:33-35; Heb. 1:13.

The crushing of the head of Satan, representing his final defeat, will take place at the Second Advent of Christ, Dan. 7:13,14; Zech. 13:2; Col. 2:15; Rev. 20:1-3.

The ascension and session of Christ completes the glorification of Christ in His hypostatic union. Acts. 2:33; 5:31; Phil. 2:9; I Pet. 3:22.

The ascension and session of Christ explain the uniqueness of the church age and the importance of having a royal family, John 7:37-39.

The ascension and session of Christ make possible the second high -priestly function of our Lord, namely, intercession. Heb. 7:25.

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Communion and the Passover

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The Passover feast became the communion table on the evening that Jesus Christ was betrayed, the evening of the last supper on which the Lord Jesus and His disciples celebrated Passover.

In God’s mind, the death of Jesus Christ was an accomplished fact long before it became a reality.

1 Pet. 1:18-20, “Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from you vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

Therefore, the Father recognized that the symbolic offering of the paschal lamb, the lamb of sacrifice at the Passover, was sufficient throughout Old Testament times. The shed blood of the animal became an atonement, or covering, for the guilty sinner, God knowing that the time would come when the Lamb of God would take away the sins of the world. John 1:29

In Old Testament times, the people gave testimony to their faith by ceremony. The ceremonies gave testimony to the death of Christ and His work on the cross as a substitute sacrifice for mankind.

God Himself provided his own lamb: Acts 2:23; Rev. 13:8.

Jesus Christ gave Himself willingly to become the final Passover sacrifice: 1 Cor. 5:7.

Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross provided the means to reconcile the world to God so that, through His saving grace, eternal life might be given to all who believe: Eph. 2:8-9.

At the last Passover, Christ showed His disciples that there would be no more Passover feasts after this one meaning no more killing of lambs.

The Passover feast was just a shadow picture, an illustration of Christ himself who would bring a greater deliverance to people that the deliverance from Egypt, namely, salvation.

The shadow was soon to become the reality: Col. 2:16,17; Heb. 10:1-14.

The disciples would soon look back on the cross instead of looking forward to it.

The Passover became the communion table, for the purposes of:

Harmony: 1 Cor. 11:20-22.

Remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ: 1 Cor. 11:23-26

Restoration to Fellowship: 1 Cor. 11:27-32

Fellowship: 1 Cor. 11:33,34

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The Body of Christ

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Each member of the Trinity is related to the body of Christ, and every Christian is a part of the body of Christ.

God the Father placed Christ as the head of the body.

Eph. 1:22,23, “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him too be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.”

Col. 1:18,19; Eph. 5:23,24 also fit this context.

The Holy Spirit forms the body of Christ and sustains the body.

1 Cor. 12:12-14, “For as the body in one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.”

1 Cor. 6:15; 19,20 support this statement.

Christ is the Savior of the body.

Eph. 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ the head of the church; and He is the savior of the body.”

Please read Eph. 5:25, 30.

Christ is the sanctifier of the body.

Heb. 2:11, “For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

Heb. 13:12, “Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.”

The body of Christ participates with the Lord Jesus Christ in tactical and strategic victory over Satan and his forces of evil.

Eph. 1:22,23, “And has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that fills all in all.”

Every Christian is a member of the body of Christ. The body includes gentile believers and Jewish believers.

Ephesians 2:16, “And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

The body of Christ is the recipient of many spiritual gifts.

Rom. 12:4,5, “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

1 Cor. 12:7,8, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit. For to one is given, by the Spirit, the word of wisdom, to another, the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit;”

The communication of Bible truth is the responsibility of the body of Christ and of those people given communication gifts.

Eph. 4:11 and the following verses describe the process of church building through communication of doctrine. This is discussed in the Ephesians course for chapter 4.

The objective of the body in this life is to live the grace filled life.

Eph. 4:15,16, “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ; from whom the whole body, fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according tot he effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

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Blood Of Christ

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The phrase blood of Christ refers to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Blood represents the judgment for our sins while Christ was bearing them on the cross also referred as His spiritual death.

The physical death of the animal in the Old Testament sacrifices is analogous to the spiritual death of Christ.

1 Pet. 2:24 “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

2 Cor. 5:21 “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Every animal sacrifice foreshadows or predicts of the work of Christ.

John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Isa. 53:7 “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.”

The animal had done nothing wrong but was judged anyway. In the judgment, the animal physically died. Jesus Christ had done nothing wrong, in fact He was impeccable. In His judgment, the sins of the whole world were poured out on Him. The phrase blood of Christ sets up a representative analogy with animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. The work of Christ was presented by means of these ceremonial practices.

For more information, study the Grace Notes topics of reconciliation, propitiation, the barrier, and furniture of the tabernacle.

After Jesus Christ’s work on the cross was completed, He said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Then He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46) He dismissed His spirit; He did not bleed to death on the cross.

John 10:17-18 “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” .

After Jesus Christ had died physically, the soldier ran a spear into His side, and blood and water came out. The separation of the blood and water indicated He had already physically died. Hence, he did not bleed to death. His throat was not cut as was the animal’s when preparing the animal sacrifice. Please read John 19:31–34

So, the bleeding of the animal is an analogy to the spiritual death of Jesus Christ. This is His judgment that he took on Himself for payment of the penalty of our sins.. The judgment of the animal was physical death. The judgment of Christ was spiritual death.

Col. 1:20 “And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Heb. 10:18–20 “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”

This judgment served to remove the barrier between man and God. There is a meeting between the two sides of the cross and that meeting is in the phrase blood of Christ.

The teaching of the death of Christ for the sins of the world was lived out by Old Testament believers in Christ, through use of animal blood sacrifices. The significance of the analogy is that it relates us directly to the millions of people who were saved before the time of Christ. They were saved just as we are, by grace provision and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is no longer a need for animal sacrifices, because Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is once for all.

Heb. 9:22 “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”

The blood of Christ is the basis for all of the salvation doctrines of the New Testament, including the following:

Redemption

1 Pet. 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”

Eph. 1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins > according to the riches of his grace.”

Justification

Rom. 5:9 “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”

Imputation

God’s righteousness is imputed or credited to us because our sin is imputed or credited to Christ. 2 Cor. 5:21 (shown above). God looks at the believer and sees a righteousness equivalent to His own. This is possible because our sins were judged at the cross and we were given righteousness by grace.

Propitiation

Rom. 3:25 “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God:”

Cleansing and Restoration to Fellowship

1 John 1:7–9 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Read Leviticus chapters 4 and 5 for an account of the two offerings related to restoration to fellowship.

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Judgment Seat of Christ

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There are three thrones on which the Lord Jesus Christ will sit.

  1. The judgment seat is in heaven after the rapture.
  2. The throne in Jerusalem during the millennium.
  3. The great white throne in heaven after the millennium.

There is a general principle of scripture that every member of the human race is accountable to God.

God will evaluate every man according to his deeds. Jer. 17:10; 32:19.

All unbelievers will be evaluated at the great white throne. Rev. 20:12.

All believers in Christ will be evaluated at the judgment seat. Matt. 26:34-40 and 2 Cor. 5:10

The judgment seat of Christ is an evaluation of a Christian’s production during his Christian life on earth. There is no judgment of sin at the judgment seat. Believer’s sins were judged at the cross and Christ was our atonement for sin. (2 Cor. 5:10)

In John 15 and Gal. 5, bad deeds (phaulos), refer to actions, which may not be sinful, but which are worthless in the sight of God. These are human choices which do not measure up to God’s standard of righteousness. These deeds are human good (wood, hay and stubble), which are produced by believers when they are in a carnal state, not filled with the Holy Spirit, during periods when sin is not being confessed on a regular basis.

Divine good (gold, silver and precious stones) is agathos, which is production by a believer who is walking in fellowship and who is controlled by the Holy Spirit. In fellowship, a Christian will be controlled by the Holy Spirit, will be occupied with Christ in his thoughts and speech, and will live in the Bible. The power for his production comes directly from God and not from himself.

All production of the Christian believer (phaulos or agathos) will be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ. The instrument of evaluation is fire. The production which is not burned up during the evaluation (the gold, silver and precious stones) is the basis of eternal rewards for the believer.

1 Cor. 3:11-14

A believer should never try to evaluate another believer’s production. “To his own master he stands or falls…”

Matt. 7:1,2; Rom. 14:4

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Glory of God

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The following is a selection of comments on the word “glory”, (δοκσοϛ), as used in the Bible.

Glory is used to describe the essence of God: Rom. 3:23; Eph. 1:17; Deut. 5:24; Ps. 21:5; Mt. 16:27: Luke 2:9.

The Lord Jesus Christ is said to possess glory: Mk. 10:37.

Glory is used to describe the edification structure in the believer’s soul: Eph. 3:21; Col. 1:27; 1 Pet. 1:8; 2 Thess. 2:14. As a believer receives doctrine, he reflects the glory of God.

A wife is said to be the glory of her husband: 1 Cor. 11:7, 15.

The grace of God is described as his glory: Eph. 1:6.

The provision of God’s grace is also called wealth, the riches of His glory: Eph. 1:18; 3:16; Phil. 4:19.

There is a glory in the future which is beyond human knowledge, namely, the glory of eternity: 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 2:10; 1 Pet. 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3.

Human glamor is described as glory, though often in the negative sense: 1 Pet. 1:24; Phil. 3:19; Mt. 6:29.

Glory is used to describe the wonders of the universe: 1 Cor. 15:40,41.

Glory is used to describe the resurrection body of the believer: 1 Cor. 15:43; 2 Thess. 2:14.

The word glory is associated with the presentation of the Church to the Lord Jesus Christ: Heb. 2:10; Mt. 19:28; 24:30; 25:31.

The Shekinah Glory

The description below is credited to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

The word shekinah is not found in the Bible, but is used in rabbinic literature to signify God’s presence. In reaction to Hellenism and paganism, Judaism attempted on the one hand to preserve the biblical notion of God’s presence while on the other hand emphasizing the vast gulf between the deity and mankind.

The promise that God would dwell with mankind goes back to Noah’s blessing in Gen. 9:27: “God enlarge Japheth, may he [God] dwell in the tents of Shem” (cf. RSV “and let him [Japheth] dwell …”). The Aramaic renders this verse: “He will cause his shekinah to dwell in the dwelling place of Shem.”

Many passages in the Pentateuch affirm that the Lord came to dwell among His people Israel. First He revealed His glory cloud (Exo. 13:21f), which represented His presence and protection in the wilderness. The cloud came to rest at Mount Sinai and formed a canopy for Moses as he communed with Yahweh and received the commandments (Exo. 24:15–18).

The purpose of the revelation about the construction of the tabernacle and the commencement of the priestly service (Exo. 25–31) was to ensure that Israel might be blessed by the divine presence in its midst: “And let them make a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. According to all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and all of its furniture, so you shall make it” (Exo. 25:8f).

The divine presence was a guarantee of the covenant: “And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God” (Exo. 29:45f; cf. Lev. 26:11f). Only the concept of shekinah can explain the details of Israel’s cultic, moral and civil laws. By these means God taught Israel how to live as a holy and clean people in His presence (cf. Nu. 5:3).

When the tabernacle of the Lord was completed, it was crowned with the descent of the glory cloud. The Pentateuch stresses that all Israel saw the cloud covering the tabernacle as evidence of the presence of the Lord’s glory (Ex. 40:34–38; Lev. 9:23f). Israel believed that the divine presence was particularly associated with the most holy place, where Yahweh dwelt between the cherubim above the ark (1 Sam. 4:4; 2 Sam. 6:2; Psalm 80:1). The shekinah signified God’s presence and protection; thus when the ark was carried forward an early war hymn exclaimed, “Arise, O Lord and let thy enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee”; and when it rested the response was, “Return, O Lord, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel” (Num. 10:35f). Later in Israel’s history the location of the ark signified the place of the divine shekinah; first at Shiloh (1 Sam. 4:4) and later in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:12–19). Yahweh revealed His glorious presence again through a cloud at the dedication of the Solomonic temple (1 Kings 8:10f). Upon this occasion Solomon declared, “The Lord has set the sun in the heavens, but has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built thee an exalted house, a place for thee to dwell in for ever” (1 Kings 8:12f).

Closely related to the motif of the presence of God are other motifs: the angel of the Lord (cf. Ex. 14:19; 23:20–23; 33:1–3; Isa. 63:9; see the Grace Notes study entitled ANGEL II.C), the glory of the Lord (Ex. 40:34–38; Ezk. 1:28; 10:18f; 11:22f), the word (Isa. 55:9), wisdom (Prov. 8), and spirit of the Lord (Ezk. 2:2; 11:24). These reveal God’s presence and the means of His judgment and deliverance.

When Judaism came into contact with Hellenism (3rd century b.c.), it developed a theological vocabulary. Instead of referring directly to God by His names and titles, it spoke of Him in circumlocutions. The concept of shekinah proved useful as an in between way of speaking about God as Spirit, wisdom, the word, etc.

In the Jewish commentaries Mishnah, Midrashim and Talmud, the shekinah motif shows a theological rather than an apologetic development. The shekinah, like the rays of the sun, is at many places at the same time (T.B. Sanhedrin 39a) and more present at some places than others. This explains Yahweh’s special presence at the burning bush, Mount Sinai, the tabernacle and the temple. The analogy also clarifies Israel’s special status, since the shekinah was more real to the Israelites than to the Gentiles (T.B. Berakoth 7a; Shabbath 22b; Midr Nu. Rabbah vii.8) even after they had gone into exile (T.B. Megillah 29a). Moreover, the radiance of the shekinah is more authentic wherever anyone practices the law of God (T.B. Menahoth 43b), or good works (T.B. Baba Bathra 10a) or is in need of the divine presence (T.B.Shabbath 12b; Sotah 17a). The shekinah resists the proud, rebellious, sinful and lazy (T.B. Berakoth 43b; Hagigah 16a;Shabbath 30b; Sotah 42a), but rests in large measure on the saintly, wise, leaders, affluent and outstanding Jews (T.B.Shabbath 92a; Sotah 48b; Sukkah 28). Even the proselytes could find a special place (T.B. Shabbath 31a). Related designations of the shekinah are the word, the spirit, the glory, the light and the wings of the shekinah. From the Tannaitic and Amoraic literature it is apparent that these designations of the shekinah refer to none other than the Lord. As Urbach has observed, a survey of all the passages referring to the shekina leaves no doubt that the shekina is no hypostasis and has no separate existence alongside the deity (p. 63).

This is different in Christianity, however, where the New Testament presents the Christ as the word, glory and light of God and also speaks of the spirit of God. The shekinah motif helps to explain the oneness and separateness within the Godhead. The New Testament authors employed this language to explain the mystery of the incarnation (see the Grace Notes teaching on the Person of Christ) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (II). At Jesus’ birth the shepherds saw the glory of the Lord (Luke 2:9). John observed Jesus’ glory and identified Him with the word of God: And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father (John 1:14). At Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit descended and remained on him (John 1:32). The Messiah’s glory was especially transparent on the mount of transfiguration (Luke 9:29; cf. 2 Pet. 1:16–18). In the context of giving sight to a blind beggar, Jesus Himself declared, I am the light of the world (John 9:5). Shortly before His death Jesus prayed the high priestly prayer, in which He stated that the Son shares in the glory of the Father and prayed that believers may also share in this glory (John 17:22).

In his epistles Paul used the concept of dwelling (shekinah) to set forth the mystery of the incarnation or the dwelling of God in human flesh; cf. Col. 1:19; 2:9). The glory of the shekinah rests on all those who are in Christ (e.g., Rom. 9:23; Eph. 1:18; 3:16; Col. 1:11, 27). Jesus is the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8). The glory of the incarnate Christ has been greatly magnified in His resurrection (Rom. 6:4). Through the spirit, all who are in Christ already share in the benefits of the risen Christ in anticipation of His glorious appearing (cf. Rom. 8:15–18; 2 Cor. 1:20–22; Eph. 1:13f). Paul stated the Christian hope thus: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17f).

The association of Jesus with the shekinah is also apparent elsewhere in the New Testament. Paul saw the glory of the resurrected Jesus and was blinded by His brightness (Acts 9:3–9; 22:6–11). Heb. 1:3 speaks of God’s supreme revelation in Jesus, who reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by the word of his power. James 2:1 addresses the Christian community as those who hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.

The presence of the Holy Spirit is also a representation of the shekinah. The spirit descended and remained on Jesus (John 1:33). At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down and rested on the 120 disciples: And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each of them (Acts 2:3, emphasis supplied).

The New Testament is clearly set against the Jewish background. The New Testament authors attributed to the spirit and to the Son the glory associated with the shekinah. Jesus is the me^mra¯´ (word), filled with the Holy Spirit of God and full of glory, and He reflects the glory of God. The Holy Spirit bestows the glory of God on all who are filled with the Holy Spirit, and thus they are gloriously renewed in the image of God (see Kline).

Bibliography.—EncyclopediaJudaica, XIV, sv (R. G. Horwitz); M. G. Kline, Images of the Spirit (1980); TDNT, II, (G. von Rad and G. Kittel); E. E. Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (Engtr, 1979).

W. A. Vangemeren

Barnes (Barnes, A., Barnes’ Notes on the Bible), has the following comments regarding the Lord’s appearance to Saul on the Damascus road (Acts 9).

Barnes makes the following remarks:

  1. God was accustomed to appear to the Jews in a cloud; in a pillar of smoke, or of fire; in that special splendor which they named the shechinah. In this way he went before them into the land of Canaan, Exodus 13:21,22; compare Isaiah 4:5,6. This appearance or visible manifestation they called the glory of YAHWEH, Isaiah 6:1-4; Exodus 16:7, “In the morning ye shall see the glory of the Lord . . .”; Acts 9:10; Leviticus 9:23; Numbers 14:10; 16:19, 42; 24:16; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 10:4. Luke 2:9, The glory of the Lord shone round about them.
  2. The Lord Jesus, in his transfiguration on the mount, had been encompassed with that glory. See Matthew 17:1-5.
  3. He had spoken of a similar glory with which he had been invested before his incarnation, and to which he would return; John 17:5, “And now, Father, glorify thou me with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”; Matthew 25:31, “The Son of Man shall come in his glory . . .” Compare Matthew 16:27; 19:28. To this glory he had returned when he left the earth.
  4. It is a sentiment which cannot be shown to be incorrect, that the various appearances of the angel of Yahweh, and of Yahweh, mentioned in the Old Testament, were appearances of the Messiah the God who would be incarnate and the special protector of His people. See Isaiah 6; compare with John 12:41.
  5. When the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, it would have been in his appropriate glory and honor as the ascended Messiah. That he did appear is expressly affirmed.
  6. This was an occasion when, if ever, such an appearance was proper. The design was to convert an infuriated persecutor, and to make him an apostle. To do this, it was necessary that he should see the Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 9:1,2. The design was further to make him an eminent instrument in carrying the gospel to the Gentiles. A signal miracle; a demonstration that he was invested with his appropriate glory (John 17:5); a calling up a new witness to the fact of his resurrection, and of his solemn investment with glory in the heavens, seemed to be required in thus calling a violent persecutor to be an apostle and friend.
  7. We are to regard this appearance, therefore, as the reappearance of the shechinah, the Son of God invested with appropriate glory, appearing to convince an enemy of his ascension, and to change him from a foe to a friend.

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Essence of God

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The phrase “Essence of God” is a theological term used to refer to God’s personal characteristics, or to the facets of His personality. Sometimes the term “Attributes of God” is used to refer to God’s essence. The “attributes”, or the “essence”, of God are His primary characteristics, so they cannot be completely communicated to man. They can be described to a degree, but they cannot be fully defined.

Finite man cannot define the infinite. The Bible is the Word of God, and as such it reveals those facts about the Creator that He has seen fit to reveal about Himself.

Man supposes that God thinks like a man. We think God wants revenge, because when we’re insulted, we want revenge. When we are cheated, we want immediate justice and retribution. We are indignant and shocked at the behavior of others, so we expect God to be shocked.

But God does not feel insulted. He does not feel cheated – He owns everything. He is not indignant, temperamental, or emotional. He does not throw tantrums (or lightning bolts). He is not surprised or shocked by anything. He is never depressed or moody.

God is not arrogant or egotistical. He knows Himself, is self-assured, and is humble.

God is a rational, logical, stable-minded, patient; and all of His thinking is backed up by His omniscience. He approaches every issue from the basis of His perfect character, the subject of this study.

God approaches every issue regarding human beings out of His love for all men. His thinking toward man takes all of His attributes into consideration – but Love is always present. It is God’s thinking about us, in love, that is His perfect Grace thinking. He is always gracious, always thinks Grace.

Spirituality is one of God’s primary attributes. God is immaterial, in a universe that is made up of both material and immaterial. God has revealed something of what He is in the Word, but only He knows Himself fully. We must rely on what is written in the Bible for any understanding of what God is like.

The fact that God is a spiritual being means that He lives. Spirituality implies life. Jer. 10:10 and 1 Th. 1:9 tell us that God is alive and well. The life of God has no beginning and no ending. God is eternal. The Christian shares God’s eternal life, but since his eternal life has a beginning at the time he accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour, his eternal life is properly called “everlasting life”.

All of the characteristics of the divine essence are present in God at all times, but not all are manifest at the same time, just as while all colors are present in a ray of white light, the individual colors can be seen only under certain conditions of reflection or refraction. Various attributes of God can be seen in certain situations. For example:

  • In salvation, God’s love and eternal life are apparent.
  • In judgment, His righteousness and justice are manifested.
  • In God’s faithfulness, His immutability and veracity are shown.
  • In God’s Plan, His omniscience and sovereignty are seen.
  • In God’s will, sovereignty is paramount.
  • In God’s revelation, veracity, love, and omniscience are obvious.

The rest of this paper is devoted to a description of the ten characteristics of the Essence of God as seen in the various Bible passages that describe them.

Sovereignty

God is the supreme being of the universe.

Deut. 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord, he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath; there is none else.

I Sam. 2:6-8 The Lord killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to Sheol, and bringeth up. The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich; he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the refuse, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he hath set the world upon them.

I Chron. 29:11 Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine. This is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all.

**II Chron. 20:6 And said, O Lord God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? And rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the nations? And in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

*Psalm 83:18 That men may know that thou, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

Isaiah 45:5-6 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me. That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.

Acts 17:24 God, who made the world and all things in it, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands.

God has a will. He is eternal, infinite, and self-determining. He makes decisions, policies, sets up principles. This is divine volition.

Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Heb. 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself.*

Psalm 47:7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing ye praises with understanding.

Psa 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he pleased.*

In His sovereignty, God decided to give man a free will. The meeting place of Man’s will and God’s will is the Cross. (John 3:16)

God’s sovereign plan for the human race is first, salvation, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31); second, during life on earth as a believer, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to grow in Christ (Eph 5:18; I Peter 3:18); and third, to have eternal life in heaven, in a resurrection body.

RIGHTEOUSNESS

God is absolutely holy, or righteous.

Psalm 145:17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.

Lev. 19:2b Ye shall be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy.

I Sam. 2:2 There is none holy like the Lord; for there is none beside thee, neither is there any rock like our God.

Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou who inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Ps. 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people; he hath commanded his covenant forever; holy and reverend is his name.

Isaiah 6:3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.

God is good.

Ps. 25:8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Ps. 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusteth in him.

Ps. 86:5 For thou, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all those who call upon thee.

God is free from sin.

II Cor. 5:21 For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I John 1:5 This, then, is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

God is perfect in His character and Person.

Deut. 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

Ps. 7:9 Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just; for the righteous God tests the minds and hearts.

Rom. 1:17 For in it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written The just shall live by faith.

Psalms 11:7; 97:6; 111:3; 119:137

Jer. 23:6

John 17:25

Rom. 10:3

I John 2:29.

God is righteous in all His attitudes and actions

Deut. 32:4

2 Sam. 22:31

Ps. 119:137; 145:17

Dan. 9:14

Rev. 19:2

In the application of the concept of God’s righteousness (+R) to the unbeliever, it is important to remember that His righteousness is absolute. This means that He cannot fellowship with sin. He must demand the same perfection of His creatures. Man’s concept of righteousness is relative (Isa. 64:6); but no one can measure up to the divine standard nor achieve absolute righteousness by self-effort. However, the righteousness of God is freely available to all who believe.

Psalm 14:3; Rom. 3:23; Tit. 3:5; Rom. 3:22

JUSTICE

God is Just, and cannot be unfair. His justice demands that disobedience against His laws be punished. Justice administers the penalty that right-eousness demands.

Psalm 19:9 …the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 50:6 …for God is judge himself.

Psalm 58:11 …verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.

Rom. 3:26 To declare at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Heb. 10:30-31 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongs unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Heb. 12:23

1 John 1:9

Rev. 15:3

God’s justice is satisfied because of His grace provision of redemption. The Lord Jesus Christ, through his substitutionary, effective death on the Cross, transferred the guilt of the sinner onto Himself, thus satisfying the justice of God. God is now free to pardon the sinner and justify the one who accepts His saving grace. God is equally free to justly condemn all who reject salvation. The basis of their indictment is works, never sins.

1 Pet. 2:24

Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 3:21-28; 4:5; 8:1

John 3:18,36; 5:28-30.

Grace always precedes judgment.

LOVE

God is eternal and unchangeable love.

Jer. 31:3 The Lord has appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.

God, in His sovereignty, decided to treat man in grace. It is His love that motivates His grace. Righteousness and Justice stood in the way because of the sin barrier between man and God. In Love, God the Father sent His Son to the cross to die for the sins of the whole world. Righteousness and Justice are thus satisfied, the barrier is removed, and love and grace can be given to men.

Eph. 2:8,9

Isa. 59:2

John 3:16.

ETERNAL LIFE

God is absolute existence.

Ex. 3:14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.*

God has neither beginning nor end.

God existed in eternity past, and He will exist forever.

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning, God…

Isa. 43:13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?

Col. 1:17 And He is before all things, and by him all things consist.*

Deut. 32:40; 33:27

Job 36:26

Psa. 9:7; 90:2; 102:37: 135:13

Lam. 5:19

Hab. 3:6

John 1:1-4

1 Tim. 1:17

1 John 5:11

Rev. 1:8; 21:6; 22:16

The believer in Christ has everlasting life.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

1 John 5:11

John 8:51: 14:1-3

The unbeliever will experience everlasting punishment.

Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.*

OMNISCIENCE

God is all-knowledge.

1 Sam. 2:3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

Job 26:6 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.

Job 31:4 Doth he not see my ways, and count all my steps?

Job 34:21 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.

Psalm 139:1-12

Psalm 147:4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

Jer. 16:17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.

Matt. 10:29-30 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

Heb. 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.*

Job 37:16; 42:2

Eze. 11:5

God is infinite in wisdom and understanding.

1 Sam. 16:7 …for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Psalm 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoewth the secrets of the heart.

Prov. 3:19 The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.

Jer. 17:10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jer. 51:15 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding.

Matt. 6:8 …for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Rom. 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Psalm 147:5

Prov. 17:3

Isa. 40:13,14

Nahum 1:7

Rom. 11:33

1 John 3:20

God knows the end from the beginning (foreknowledge).

Isa. 41:26; 42:9; 43:9

Isa. 46:10

Acts 2:23; 15:18

1 Pet. 1:2

As God, the Lord Jesus Christ knew all things and all men.

Matt. 9:4

John 2:24; 19:28; 21:17

Application to believers:

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Matt. 6:31-33 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoewth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

OMNIPRESENCE

God is ever-present, neither limited by time nor space, immanent and transcendant.

Jer. 23:24

Acts 17:27

The heavens cannot contain God.

1 Kings 8:27

Acts 17:24

Heaven is His throne, the earth His footstool.

Deut. 4:39

Isa. 66:1

Man cannot escape the presence of God.

Job. 34:21,22

Psalm 139:7-10

Prov. 15:3

The Christian can take great comfort in the presence of God.

Gen. 28:15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land/ for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.

Josh. 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Ex. 33:14

Psalm 121:3,4

Matt. 18:20

1 Cor. 3:16

Heb. 13:5

OMNIPOTENCE

God is all-powerful and limitless in ability.

Gen. 17:1; 18:14

Job 26:7; 42:2

Psa. 24:8; 93:1; 147:5

Isa. 40:26; 50:2

Jer. 27:5; 32:27

Matt. 19:26

Mark 14:36

Luke 1:37

Rev. 4:8

God is limitless in authority.

Psa. 33:9

Rom. 13:1

Heb. 1:3 He upholds all things by the word of His power.

Rev. 19:6

Scriptures show the manifestation of God’s power.

2 Chron. 16:9; 25:8

Psa. 74:13

The power of God’s Son.

Matt. 9:6; 28:18

John 10:18; 17:2,3

The application of God’s omnipotence to the Christian Way of Life.

1 Sam. 17:47

Psa. 27:1

Isa. 26:4; 40:29

Jer. 33:3

Acts 1:8

1 Cor. 15:43

2 Cor. 9:8

Eph. 1:19; 3:20

Phil. 4:13

2 Tim. 1:12

Heb. 7:25

1 Peter 1:5

IMMUTABILITY

God is neither capable of nor susceptible to change.

Psa. 102:26,27; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 1:12

God is absolute stability.

Isa. 40:28

James 1:17

God’s Word and His works are unchanging.

Psa. 119:89

Eccl. 3:14

Isa. 40:8

God’s great faithfulness is a product of His immutability.

Psa. 36:5; 89:33; 119:90

Lam. 3:23

He is faithful to keep His promises.

Num. 23:19

1 Kings 8:56

2 Cor. 1:20

Tit. 1:2

Heb. 10:23; 11:11

He is faithful to forgive, 1 John 1:9.

He is faithful to keep us saved, 2 Tim. 2:12,13.

He is faithful to deliver in times of pressure, 1 Cor. 10:13.

He is faithful in suffering, 1 Pet. 4:19

He is faithful to provide in eternity, 1 Thess. 5:24.

He is faithful to stabilize the believer, 2 Thess. 3:3

The faithfulness of Christ.

Heb. 3:1,2; 13:8

Rev. 1:5; 19:11

VERACITY

God is absolute Truth, Deut. 32:4

God’s truth is manifested:

  • in His ways.

Psa. 25:10; 86:15

Rev. 15:3

  • in His works

Psa. 33:4; 111:7,8

Dan. 4:37

  • in His Word

2 Sam. 7:28

1 Kings 17:24

Psa. 19:9; 119:142,151; 138:2

John 8:45; 17:17

2 Cor. 6:7

Eph. 1:13

The Veracity of the Godhead:

The Father –

Psa. 31:5

Isa. 65:16

Jer. 10:10

John 3:33; 17:3

Rom. 3:4

The Son –

John 1:14; 8:32; 14:6

1 John 5:20

Rev. 16:7; 19:11

The Holy Spirit –

John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13

1 John 5:6

Application of God’s Veracity to the Christian.

Prov. 6:16,17

Matt. 5:37

2 Tim. 2:15

1 John 4:6

The Trinity

There are three distinct Persons of the Godhead, each possessing the entire essence of deity. The three Persons comprise what the Scripture represents as the ONE TRUE GOD. In the unity of the Godhead (Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:20; Col. 2:9) there are three Persons on one substance, power and eternity (Isa. 48:16; Luke 3:22; John 14:16; Rom. 15:30; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 1 John 4:13,14)

The full title of God is “God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit”. (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14). Each Person is made up of the same divine characteristics, making each equal to either of the other two (John 10:30; 16:15) Therefore, when the Bible speaks of God as being One, it is a reference to Essence; when speaking of the members of the Godhead, it is a reference to the Persons.

FATHER SON HOLY SPIRIT
Sovereignty Psa. 103:19 Rev. 19:16 1 Cor. 12:11
Righteousness Rev. 7:10 Heb. 1:8 John 3:8
Love 1 John 4:8 1 John 3:16 Gal. 5:22
Justice and Righteousness Deut. 32:4 Zech. 9:9 Called “Holy” Spirit
Eternal Life Jer. 10:10 Col. 1:17 Heb. 9:14
Omniscience Psa. 147:4,5 Col. 2:3 1 Cor. 2:10,11
Omnipresence Psa. 139:8 Mt. 28:20 Psa. 139:7
Omnipotence Mt. 19:26 Mt. 28:18 Isa. 11:2
Immutability Psa. 102:26,27
Veracity

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