By: Dr. John Frame
DOCTRINE OF THE WORD OF GOD
Lecture Outline (1)
These are Dr. Frame's systematic theology lecture outlines for the doctrine of the Word of God. Though only in outline format, they are highly detailed and hopefully useful to all.
I.The Comprehensiveness of God’s covenant Lordship.
A. Centrality of Lordship in Scripture: "Lord," (Yahweh. Adonai, Kurios) is the basic covenant name of God, Ex. 3:13-15,6:1-8; cf. John 8:59, Rom. 14:9.
- Use in confessions of faith: Deut. 6:4ff; cf. Rom. 10:9, I Cor. 12:3, Phil. 2:11.
- God performs his might acts "that they might know that I am the Lord," Ex. 14: 18, I Kings 8:43, Ps. 9: 10, etc.
- "I am Lord, I am he," Isa. 41:4,43:10-13, etc.
B.Lordship is a covenantal concept.
- "Covenant": relation between the Lord and a people whom he has sovereignly consecrated to himself. He rules over them by the sanctions of his law and fulfills in and through them the purposes of his grace.
- Lordship is a relation. Where you have a Lord, you have servants, i.e. a people over whom the Lord rules. "Lord" names God as head of the covenant relationship. The centrality of lordship implies the centrality of covenant, and vice versa.
C. The Attributes of Lordship
The following three concepts seem to be particularly prominent in biblical descriptions of divine Lordship. Learn them well, for they define a basic conceptual scheme which will be invoked frequently in all of my courses.
1.Control (kingly office )
a.Though God's lordship is a covenant relation, his existence precedes the covenant, and his power brings the covenant servant (with the whole world') into existence, Isa. 41:4,43:10-13,44:6, 48:12f. The covenant, therefore, is not a relation of mutual dependence, even though "Lord" denotes a relation. The Lord is in control, and the servant is dependent upon him.
b. Emphasis on divine control within the covenant structure: Ex. 3:8,20, 14 (cf 33:19,34:6, Vos, Biblical Theology, 129-134), Ex. 20:2.
2.Authority (prophetic office) (=right to be obeyed): Ex. 3:13-18,20:2, Lev. 18:2-5,30, 19:37, Deut. 6:4-9, Luke 6:46ff.
a. He cannot be questioned, Rom 4:18-20, Heb. II, Job 40:1f, Rom. 9:20.
b. His covenant transcends all other loyalties, Ex. 20:3, Deut. 6:4f, Matt. 8: 19-22, 10:34-38, Phil. 3:8.
c. His authority covers all areas of life, Ex.-Deut., I Cor. 10:31, Rom. 14:23, II Cor. 10:5, Col. 3:17,23.
3.Presence, or Covenant Solidarity (priestly office)
a. "I will be with you," Gen. 26:3,28:15,31:3,46:4, Ex. 3:12,93:14, Deut. 31:6,8 23, Judges 6:16, Jer. 31:33. Isa. 7:14, I Cor. 3:16ff, John 17:25, Matt. 28:20, Rev.21:22.
b. The nearness of the covenant Lord, Jer. 31:33, Deut. 4:7,30:11-14, Rom. 10:6-8, Lev. 10:3, Ps. 148:14, Eph. 2:17, Jonah 2:7, Col. 1:27.
c. Involvement with people in blessing and cursing (notice how this seems almost to ~ "lordship" (Yahweh) in the passages cited), Ex. 3:7-14,6:1-8,20:5,7, 10, Ps. 35:13f, Isa. 26:4-8, Hos. 12:4-9, 13:4ff, Mal. 3:6, John 8:31-59.
d.Each attribute presupposes the other two. Each presents the whole idea of Lordship from a different "perspective."
i.Control involves authority, for God controls even the structure of truth and rightness.ii. Control involves presence, for God's power is so pervasive it brings us face to face with him in every experience.iii. Authority involves control, for God's commands presuppose his full ability to bless obedience and curse disobedience.iv. Authority involves presence, for God's commands are clearly revealed.v. Presence involves control, for nothing in heaven and earth can keep us from God or God from us (John 10, Rom. 8).vi. Presence involves authority , for the presence of God is always a presence in the word, Deut. 30: 11 ff.
4.Lordship, Creation and Providence
a.Control: Gen. 1:3, Ps. 33:6,9,148:5, John i:3, 10, Heb. 11:3, II Pet. 3:5-7, Heb. 1:2, Gen. 8:21[, Ps. 145:15f, 119:89:91,148:8, Eph. 1:11.
b.Authority: Gen. I :5, 8, 10 (qara’), 1:26ff, 2: 17, etc. Note the prominence of God's word in the passages describing divine control--the model of the king speaking and being obeyed.
c.Presence: Gen. 1:2, Isa. 66:1, Matt. 5:35, Acts 7:49ff, I Kings 3:27ff (note covenant context), Ps. 139.
5.Lordship and Salvation ("Salvation is of the Lord," Jonah 2:9), Ex. 3:7-14,20:2, 33:19. Jer. 33:31-34, Rom. 5,10:9[, "the Kingdom ofGod;" "the covenant."
a. Control: Ex. 3:19-22,6:6, Isa. 52:7,59:15-20, John 5:37,44,65, Rom. 8:28-39, 9:11-24, Eph. 1:3-14, 2:8f.
b. Authority: Isa. 43:1-7, Matt. 9:1-9, Luke 7:1-10, Rom. 10:9f, I Cor. 2:6-16.
c.Presence: Num. 6:23-27, Deut. 27: 12ff, II Cor. 16:9ff, Ps. 1, 139, I Cor. 10:16,11:27-32,Rev.l:20,2:1ff.
6.Summary: In the Reformed faith, the sovereignty of God involves not only God's control, but also his authority and covenantal presence. It involves authority: the reformed faith is much more interested in being Scriptural than in achieving consistency with an abstract idea of divine control. It involves presence: one of the most precious things in reformed literature is the emphasis on living coram deo, living every moment in the presence of God, confronted by him in every fact, in every event, in every person. Because of this covenantal lordship, all of life must be brought under God's dominion (I Cor. 10:31, etc.) Nothing is neutral, nothing may be left as is. (Calvin's slogan: "My heart I give thee, promptly and sincerely.")
It is, then, the comprehensiveness of God's covenant Lordship which is most precious to reformed people. Salvation is not merely a way of escaping divine Judgment, but a reorientation of all of life, and, ultimately, of all human society, of the earth itself.
II. Theology Under God's Lordship
A. Knowing God
1.God knowable (Rom. 1:21 ), but incomprehensible (Isa. 55 :8-9).
a. In one sense, all people know God (Rom. 1:21 )
b. Only believers possess saving knowledge, knowledge of God as friend (John 17:3, Matt. 11:27, John 1:14,1 Cor. 2:9-15,1 John 5:20). Some of what I say below will pertain to both kinds of knowledge, but I am focusing on the first.
2.To know God is to know him as Lord (Ex. 14:18,33:11-34:9,1 Kings 8:43, I Chron.28:6-9): "that they may know that I am the Lord."
a. Knowledge about God is about his Lordship, his control, authority, presence.
b. Knowledge-(in the highest sense) subject to his Lordship.
i. Knowledge is based on revelation (Matt. 11:25-28), therefore under God's control.ii. Knowledge is subject to God's authority. So it correlates with obedience.
aa. Knowledge of God produces obedience (John 14:15,21, 17:26, 2 Pet. 1:3,5,2:18-20).bb. Obedience leads to knowledge (John 7:17, Eph. 3:17-19, 2 Tim. 2:25f, 1 John 3:16). Spiral relationship.cc. Obedience is knowledge, and knowledge is obedience (Hos. 6:6, Jer.22:16.)dd.Obedience is a criterion of knowledge (Matt. 7:21ff, Luke 8:21, John 8:47,14:15,21, 23f, 15:7,10,14,17:6,17, 1 John 2:3-5,4:7, 5:2f, 2 John 6).ee.So knowledge must be sought in an obedient way (1 Cor. 1-2, 3:18-23,8:1-3, Jas. 3:13-18.
iii. Knowledge is exposed to God's presence. Knowing God personally.
aa. Knowing facts about God (Psm. 100:3, Rom. 3:19,6:3, 1 John 2:3,3:2)bb. Knowing new skills: obedience, prayer, spiritual gifts.cc. Knowing God as friend or enemy: marriage (Hosea, Eph. 5), sonship (John 1:12, Rom. 8:14-17), friendship (John 15:13-15).
B. Objects of Human Knowledge: God's Word, the World, Ourselves
1.Problems in Secular Epistemology
a.Need for a standard
b. Subject and object
2.Our knowledge of these objects interdependent.
a. We need the Word to understand the World.
b. We need the World to understand the Word (i.e., to understand how to apply the Word).
c. Self-knowledge and knowledge of the World are correlative.
d.Self-knowledge and knowledge of God (by the Word) are inseparable (Calvin's Institutes,1.1.1).
3.Perspectives on knowledge.
a.Normative, focusing on God's Word, but applying it to the world and the self.
b.Situational, focusing on the world, but governed by the Word and from the viewpoint of the self.
c.Existential, focusing on ourselves, but in context of our world-environment, governed by the Word.
d.Each involves the others, so each serves as a perspective on human knowledge as a whole.
1.Schleiermacher: "Christian doctrines are accounts of the Christian religious affections set forth in speech." Subjectivist.
2.Hodge: "the exhibition of the facts of Scripture in their proper order and relation."
But doesn't Scripture itself place the facts in proper order? Why do we need another?
3.Frame: "The application of the Word of God to his world and to all aspects of human life."
a. Not subjectivist, because under biblical authority.b. Beyond Hodge: gives the ~ for putting biblical truth into a new form: to apply the Word to situations and to people.c. This activity has biblical warrant.i. Scripture requires us to apply its truth to current situations (Matt. 16:3, 22:29, Luke 24:25, John 5:39f, Rom. 15:4,2 Tim. 3:16f, 2 Pet. 1:19-21).ii. This is the purpose of Scripture (John 20:31, Rom. 15:4,2 Tim. 3:16-17).
D.Traditional Theological Programs
- Exegetical Theology: application of particular passages of Scripture.
- Biblical Theology: application of Scripture as "history of redemption," or "history of the covenant. "
- Systematic Theology: applies Scripture as a whole. "What does the whole Bible teach about x?"
- All three are misnomers! All three, at best, are exegetical, biblical, and systematic.
- Each involves the others.
a. No "primacy ."b. Each is a perspective on the whole.
Next : Part 2 “I.The Concept of the Word of God: The Word is God's powerful, meaningful, self-expression.”