Book: Systematic Theology Essay
The book Systematic Theology, by Louis Berkhof, is interesting because it gives the reader an in-depth understanding of theology and the various areas associated with it.
He stated that the reason that so many Christians have only a weak faith, and that so many churches present only a rather superficial form of Christianity, is that they never really see the system in its logical consistency. It is not enough for the professing Christian to know that God loves him and that his sins have been forgiven. He should know how and why his redemption has been accomplished and how it has been made effective. Part 2 – “The Doctrine of Man in Relation to God”
1. The usual view is that man consists of two parts, body and soul. This is in harmony with the self-consciousness of man, and is also borne out by a study of Scripture, which speaks of man as consisting of “body and soul,” Matt. 6:25, or of “body and spirit,” Eccl. 12:7.
Some are of the opinion that the words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ represent different elements, and that therefore man consists of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. It is evident, however, that the two words ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’ are used interchangeably. Death is sometimes described as a giving up of the soul, Gen. 35:18; and sometimes as the giving up of the spirit, Luke 23:46; Acts 7:59. The dead are in some cases named “souls,” Rev. 9:6; 20:4, and in others ‘spirits,’ I Pet 3:19; Heb. 12:23. The two terms represent the spiritual element in man from different points of view.
As spirit it is the principle of life and action, which controls the body, and as soul it is the personal subject, which thinks and feels and wills, and in some cases the seat of the affections. 2. The Origin of the Soul in Each Individual – there are three views respecting the origin of the individual souls. They are Pre-existentialism, Traducianism and Creationism. 3. Man as the Image of God – the Bible teaches that man is created in the image of God. According to Gen. 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
The two words ‘image’ and ‘likeness’ evidently denote the same thing. 4. Man in the Covenant of Works – God at once entered into covenant relationship with man. This original covenant is called the covenant of works. Part 4 – The Doctrine of the Application of the Work of Redemption The doctrine of justification of course leads on to that of sanctification. The state of justification calls for a life of sanctification, consecrated to the service of God.
1. Nature and Characteristics of Sanctification – sanctification may be defined as that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which, He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works.
It differs from justification in that it takes place in the inner life of man, is not a legal but a re-creative act, is usually a lengthy process, and never reaches perfection in this life. 2. The Imperfect Character of Sanctification in This Life – while sanctification affects every part of man, yet the spiritual development of believers remains imperfect in this life.
They must contend with sin as long as they live, I Kings 8:46; Prov. 20:9. Their lives are characterized by a constant warfare between the flesh and the spirit, and even the best of them are still confessing sin. 3. Sanctification and Good Works – sanctification of course leads to a life of good works. These may be called the fruits of sanctification.
Good works are not perfect works, but works that spring from the principle of love to God or faith in Him, Matt. 7:17, that are done in conscious agreement to the revealed will of God, Deut. 6:2, and have as their final aim the glory of God, I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17, 23. Only they who are renewed by the Spirit of God can perform such good works.
4. Perseverance of the Saints – the expression ‘perseverance of the saints’ naturally suggests a continuous activity of believers whereby they persevere in the way of salvation. The perseverance referred to is less an activity of believers than a work of God, in which believers must participate.
I believe that my one aim in life and death should be to glorify God and enjoy him forever; and that God teaches me how to glorify him in his holy Word, that is, the Bible, which he had given by the infallible inspiration of this Holy Spirit in order that I may certainly know what I am to believe concerning him and what duty he requires of me.