My next concern here is to explain what is involved in the Second Task of the Teacher in the discipleship process. The Second Task of the Teacher involves helping new believers understand what we believe about the existence and character of God.
So what do we learn about God from studying the Bible?
Before I answer that, I want to remind you that you are being invited into a conversation that has taken place for nearly 2000 years. There are a lot of people who have contributed to our understanding of what is (and is not) important. The areas of importance handed down to us can be divided up into four basic parts. I am sharing this in the hope that the Church in your area can help people explore each of these four basic parts.
The four basic parts are as follows: 1) the existence of God, 2) the knowledge of God, 3) The Trinity, and 4) The Attributes of God.
I. The Existence of God
The Church believes in the existence of God because there is evidence of Him. The different types of evidence that can be used to examine the existence of God are 1) the human conscience, 2) the laws of science, and 3) philosophical tools like logic and reason.
Let’s take a brief look at each of these.
- The Human Conscience
We believe that people do not like being mistreated. There is (for lack of a better word) an instinct everyone has that tells us it is not okay when someone lies, cheats, steals or does something that can hurt me as an individual.
In time this instinct can grow numb as a result of exposure to the corruption in human nature, so there are many places in the world where people do not have a conscience at all (see Romans 1:18-32).
2. The Laws of Science
We believe God created the world. God’s work of creation involved designed patterns that cause the world to work in predictable ways. Western Science is an attempt to explore how to influence and control different aspects of nature by understanding the patterns God set up.
At least that is how scientific research began. Psalm 19 says “the heavens are declaring the glory of God” and people began looking to see it for themselves, although there have been some who invent reasons to overlook it as well.
3. Philosophical Tools (like Logic and Reason)
We understand that God chose Greek philosophy and its tools of logic and reason to be the dominant culture because it required the Church to use persuasive public speaking to share the message of The Gospel.
These three things are useful for speaking to non Christian people, and a lot has been written about each of them, which I will not repeat for you here. I will share more about this when I get started on sharing resources related to Church History.
II. The Knowledge of God
We believe that God is transcendent. What that means is that God could be working in your life and you would not recognize Him. There is something mysterious about God that places His goals and His methods for accomplishing those goals beyond our understanding.
The exception to this is known as Revelation, which basically means God explains Himself in a way we can understand. God has to take the initiative to help us understand who God is and how we can interact with God.
How do we obtain knowledge of God from the Bible?
1) Word Pictures
In the Bible, God uses things that people are familiar with in order to help explain different aspects of God’s identity. Here is one example: In Isaiah 31:4 God is compared to a lion. We are also told that God is like a husband (Isaiah 54:5) and a shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
The Bible also tells us that God can “see” (Genesis 1:10) and “hear” (Exodus 2:24).
2) The Name and Titles of God
In the Bible, God has a name we are told in Exodus 3:13-14 and many different titles like God Most High (see Genesis 14:18-20). There are a lot of different titles God has in the Bible, and I have prepared a list of them you can read by clicking here.
3) The Attributes of God
In the Bible, God uses words to help us understand who He is. The most popular attribute of God is His love (1 John 4:8), although God has more attributes that dictate how He shares His love with us. Anyone who wants to know God should take some time to become familiar with His attributes.
Because are so many of them, I have decided to make a list on another part of this website. If you want to read the list and learn how it can improve your relationship with God, you can find it by clicking here:
III. The Trinity
We believe in the Trinity. The Trinity is best explained this way (with the following quote from a book written by Wayne Grudem): “God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God and there is one God.”
The concept of the Trinity is given with “hints” in the Old Testament, followed by “explanations” that can be found in the New Testament. We should help people recognize the “hints” and “explanations” that others have discovered in the past. (It might also be wise to help people recognize misunderstandings as well).
The existence of God, the knowledge of God, the Attributes of God, and the Trinity cover the basics of what the Church in the past has understood to be true about God. The final and most important part of this involves reading the Bible. Deciding to read the Bible created additional challenges, in order to examine the existence of God in the Bible correctly, we need 1) an understanding of Bible languages, 2) an understanding of ancient social customs, and 3) an understandings of human history.
I will share more about this when we begin exploring different parts of the Bible.