God & Creation
As Christians, many of us read our Bibles, go to church, are involved in a small group or Sunday school class, and pray regularly. But for some, if we were asked to explain what the Trinity is—God in three persons—or why we believe God created the world in seven days, we would have a hard time giving a clear answer. Several months ago our magazine, Israel My Glory, took The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry’s doctrinal statement and broke it down to explain what we believe as a ministry.
Our ministry was blown away by the responses we received. People stopped us at conferences and thanked us, we received letters, emails, and phone calls from those who said they believe what The Friends of Israel believes and this was a way to put that belief into words. This surprising response helped us see we needed to put what we believe into booklet form. And it also made us see the need to share about it here, on our radio and podcast. Our Christian foundations are just that, foundational.
This week we welcome Dr. Mike Stallard to the program. Dr. Stallard will sit down with Chris and walk through who God is and the purpose of His creation. Our desire is for all of us to get this right! We want to know God —the Trinity and understand who He is through His Word. We want to understand the purpose of His creation, why He designed it the way He chose. Dr. Stallard breaks these core doctrine beliefs down for us. We hope you’ll be encouraged and learn to better explain what you believe!
Steve Conover: Welcome to the Friends of Israel Today, I'm Steve Conover and with me is our host and teacher Chris Katulka. If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian and you're someone who values the unchanging Word of God, loves and supports Israel, how would you answer them? Today we're continuing our focus on the core doctrines of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Our beliefs as an organization originated in the Word of God and that's why it's important. What we believe affects the way we live and how we do ministry.
Chris Katulka: And that's why we're in the middle of this series where we're looking at the core doctrines that we believe are both core to Christendom as a whole but also core doctrines that mattered to us here at the Friends of Israel. And this is all coming from our new booklet that we have out, 19 Key Christian Beliefs. It's a booklet called, Here We Stand.
We look at these very important doctrines and this week we have Dr. Mike Stallard in studio with us and we're going to be looking at the very important doctrine of who God is and also how He really brings His nature and His character into how he created all things out of nothing. So you'll want to be sure to stick around to hear from Dr. Mike Stallard.
Steve Conover: But first in the news, President Trump has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz to the White House to unveil his peace in the Holy Land plan. According to some reports, a Palestinian State can only be formed if the PA accepts Israel as a Jewish state and Hamas is disarmed.
Also in Trump's plan, the Palestinian right of return is off the table. If Abbas rejects this plan, some believe the Trump administration will approve Israel's right to annex the West Bank.
Chris Katulka: Well, here's my take, Steve, I think this is very fascinating and if this report is accurate, Trump has officially called the Palestinian’s bluff and backed them into the corner. For Trump, this is less about mediation as past administrations have done and more about let's make a deal that you won't refuse. So after years of pandering from the past administration, Trump's plan is black and white. He's calling on Palestinian President Abbas to stop the charade and make a deal or else really you just might lose it all.
Well, in studio today we are honored to have Dr. Mike Stallard. Dr. Stallard is the international director here at the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and before we were privileged to have him here at the Friends of Israel, he was the Dean of Baptist Bible Seminary and he's also even today the executive director of the Council for Dispensational Hermeneutics. Mike, great to have you in the studio.
Dr. Mike Stallard: Glad to be here Chris, I always have a good time with you.
Chris Katulka: The reason that I had Mike come in is because we're really looking at some really core doctrines of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, core doctrines that I think a lot of Christian churches hold true, but also doctrines that we hold near and dear because we believe they are biblical and that they matter. And so we're walking through the doctrinal statement really of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
In fact in one of our past, Israel My Glory Magazines, we did a whole magazine on it called, Here We Stand and it was so popular, we decided to turn it into a booklet that we've produced, 19 Key Christian Beliefs. It's a booklet on the values, the doctrines that we stand on here at the Friends of Israel. And so I wanted to bring Mike in to talk about some of these core doctrines that we hold to.
And so Mike, let's just jump right in here. We're going to talk about really who is God? We want to look at the big picture of who is God? This is a great place for us to start when it comes to doctrine. At the core of the Bible is the knowledge and understanding of who God is and the Word of God reveals the nature and character of God. And honestly, one of the major reasons I believe in God's Word, the whole counsel of God is it's an outworking of God's grace to us.
God reveals who He is in His Word. And so now, one of the most significant doctrines surrounding the nature of God is His Triunity, the Trinity. I had a Jewish friend once say to me we're monotheists and Christians are monotheists and that my Jewish friend says to me, he was an accountant, he goes, "Chris, the last time I added one plus one plus one, that's three, it's not one. So can you help me understand how is Christianity monotheistic and Judaism monotheistic?" "How does all that work?" "How do we fit Christianity into this model of monotheism?" "How can we call God one?"
Dr. Mike Stallard: To start with, we need to define God or recognize that He is incomprehensible. And that means we can only at best give a descriptive definition of God. When I was in my PhD comprehensive exams at Dallas Seminary, one of my professors who was examining me that day in the room asked me the question, "Define God." And I really had not prepared for that question. And so I started going through all the attributes of God. I started, He's love, He's justice, He's omnipresent, He's omnipotent, He's omniscient, et cetera. I got through the list of the attributes and when I got through the list he said, "Well, so far you haven't said anything that makes me think you are a Christian."
And I got to thinking about that though, "Oh yeah, the Trinity." You see, he said to me, "A Muslim can say what you just said." Or those who hold to Judaism can say what you just said. The Trinity is uniquely Christian and it sets us apart from others. So we do need to deal with it. I think the full descriptive definition of God takes into account that list of attributes, His actions in history, creation, redemption, but also takes into account the Trinitarian God that we see in Scripture.
So let's define Trinity to start with. Trinity means that God is one being in three co-equal, co-eternal persons. So He's one being, three persons. That means He's not three in one in the same respect. That would be a contradiction like your Jewish friend was saying. But they're in different respects. Essence referring to His, as He is in himself, His being so to speak, but a person's the function, the three persons functioning as individual personalities and so God is all of those things and the Bible's clear about that.
For example, God is one, Deuteronomy 6:4 and the Shema tells us that first Corinthians 8:4 of the apostle Paul agrees with that. But then also the Bible's clear, there are three persons who are called God. The Father is called God, first Corinthians 8:6. The Son is called God, John 1:1 and in several passages the Spirit is called God for example in Acts five. So all three are called God but then there's also those passages that put them all together. Into three in one or one in three. The integration, so to speak, in the benediction. And second Corinthians 13 at the end of the book, Paul mentions all three together. And the great commission, Matthew 28 Jesus himself, that he's going to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy spirit. In the first Corinthians 12:4-6, the spiritual gifts you have to Father, Son and Spirit. And at the baptism of Jesus all three show up the Father's voice, there's Jesus and the dove and the Holy Spirit coming upon him.
Chris Katulka: Can I ask that? This is big too because there is no particular passage that says that God is Trinitarian. There isn't that and that's what a lot of people who oppose the Trinity and they looked for more of a Unitarian perspective. They'll say, there is no word that defines Trinity or verse that says God's Trinitarian. Can you explain that? How we're looking at the Scriptures in that way?
Dr. Mike Stallard: Well, it is a deduction based upon the passages I've just listed.
Chris Katulka: That's right.
Dr. Mike Stallard: So you have the passages where God is one and then these three are God and then they're all brought together. The only conclusion bringing all those passages together is a triune God. One God in three persons and Christianity I think has done a good job of putting all that together for us. Of course, the ultimate question is does it matter?
Chris Katulka: That's right. And that's what I want to ask next. What does it matter for a Christian to know that God is one essence, three individual persons? How does that matter to a believer today?
Dr. Mike Stallard: I think more than any other view of the monotheistic God. It highlights the personal nature of God because in all eternity past the three persons of the Trinity, internally in the Godhead, they have a relationship with each other. So relationship is at the heart of who God is. And so they love each other. And so I think we look at the Trinity and it helps to remind us that God is a personal God. He's not, “may the force be you.” He is a personal God and that helps us, I think the Trinity helps us to grab onto that in a deep and powerful way.
Chris Katulka: Is it also what helps us understand God being both the just and the justifier as well that He... When we look at the issue of sin throughout the world, which is going to be something that we look at next week, sin, but when we look at sin and how it had to get dealt with sin couldn't be dealt with by man alone. It had to actually be dealt with by God himself. Does the Trinity help with that perspective at all?
Dr. Mike Stallard: Well I think the answer to that is, yes. If you go to Ephesians chapter one, God outlines the part that the Father plays in dealing with our sin, the part that the Son does and the part that the Spirit does. They're all three involved in. And again, I think that flows out of the love that's internal in God's Trinitarian being. And he demonstrates His love for others by wanting to solve this dilemma for us. He demonstrated love in creating us to start with. But because we messed up now he demonstrates his love in redeeming what has been fallen, and those who will come to him by faith. And so Jesus, the second person becomes incarnate in the flesh, an act of love, God becomes one of us.
And then that person, the Son, the second person of the Trinity who became the Son of God on earth, he was eternally the Son, but now he's on the earth. He goes to a cross and dies for our sins and was buried and rose again from the dead. And now we can trust that gospel for deliverance and salvation. So that very personal reach of God is accomplished in a separation of duties, so to speak, in the Godhead, the various persons of the Trinity is a very wonderful story and it's the greatest story ever told.
Chris Katulka: And it really helps us understand, and you can comment on this, we have a few seconds left, but you can comment on this. How does that help us understand how we worship God? How does the Trinity help us worship God and understand God from Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Dr. Mike Stallard: Well, we have to worship God in spirit and truth. So He is John four, Jesus teaching so we worship God holistically in all that He is. So we go back to all the who God is. He attributes the actions, the Trinity, all of that is part of our worship. We declare that God's worthy, so the Father's worthy of everything he's done and we adore him for it. Same with the Son, same with the Spirit. So we adore all of who God is and we love all of who God is because of who He is and also because of what He's done as Psalm 1:16 says, I love you Lord, because you have heard my cry. So we love him for what He is and what He does. And so we see that played out this great love story from God to us and how he has redeemed us.
Chris Katulka: So we're going to take a break here. Okay. So we're going to give our audience a breather and we are going to come back and we're going to look at how that Trinitarian God really works himself out in creation, the creation account. And so for our listeners, I want you to stick around. I think we're going to have a great discussion, a continued discussion with Mike Stallard.
Steve Conover: If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian and you're someone who values the unchanging word of God and loves and supports Israel, how would you answer them? Many struggle to understand what God's word says about creation, the church, Jesus Christ, salvation, Israel and the end times. Our hope is that our booklet, Here We Stand, will equip you with 19 key beliefs of the biblical faith.
Learning doctrine doesn't have to be a chore. It can revitalize your walk with God and demonstrate your love for Him to others as you come to know Him better. To purchase your own copy of Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs, visit us at foiradio.org, that's foiradio.org. We'll have a link on our homepage or you can call our listener line at 888-343-6940 and someone will return your call during our regular business hours. Once again, that's 888-343-6940. To order in Canada, call 888-664-2584. Again, that's 888-664-2584 and that's in Canada.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back everyone. We have Dr. Mike Stallard in the studio with us and we're talking all about doctrine. I want to remind you how important doctrine is. Doctrine is the foundation that we stand on. Your Christian life isn't just simply an emotion. It's built on a biblical foundation and that's why it's so important that we have Mike in studio with us and we've just talked about the Trinitarian understanding of who God is, a very Christian understanding of who God is.
And now we're going to move into how that Trinitarian God created everything and why that matters. So Mike, let me ask you this, when I look at art, when I take my kids to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Art is an expression of what the artist is thinking and feeling or something that he or she is influenced by. And it really comes from the nature and character of the artist. And we just talked about that relationship that exists between the triune God and how that affects us, is creation. So speaking of creation, what does the creation account from Genesis one to two say about the nature and the character of who God is?
Dr. Mike Stallard: Well, first off, we do believe in a literal seven days. There are six days of creation and then we'll talk about the seventh day later. And this shows a lot of things. I go back to what we said earlier about God being personal. The whole creation demonstration is certainly the work of someone who has personality. Who has a mind, who has a will, who has emotions, you see that reflected in all of creation. And of course we see creativity. I mean, just look at the majesty. Even in a fallen world today, look at the majesty of what we see. God's very creative, but also he's very powerful.
You think he did all that out of nothing. So, and once you have a God who is a creator, things like a resurrection of the body from the dead is pretty small compared to God made everything out of nothing. If he can do that, he can do anything that's within his nature to do. And so you see that the personal part comes out even stronger when you think about man in particular. Even Genesis one tells us that God made us in his image and a lot of people have argued about what image means.
But I take it there are three things there, he made in his likeness and the idea there is we are his little statutes, we're his icons. So we reflect him that may include rationality and creativity and a bunch of things, but we reflect him. And that may be one reason why he doesn't want any idols or statues of him ever made because he already has them. They're us. And of course Jesus is the Supreme one that comes later on in history but-
Chris Katulka: That's an interesting way to look at that. I've never thought of it like that before.
Dr. Mike Stallard: Now the second thing is though, you see the personality come out. He made us male and female. He made us both men and women are in the image of God. And he made us relational and that reflects the Trinitarian relationship. Not that they're three and male or female, but he made us go personal, he is personal. And then the third thing you see in the passage is functional. He made us to rule and so we reflect him even in the coming kingdom, we're going to rule and reign with Him. He has always made us to rule. And so there's a function, we represent his sovereignty. So He has caused His creation to reflect who he is and the creativity and rationality and personality and in His function of being sovereign ruler over all the universe.
Chris Katulka: All right. Now we only have a few seconds left, but when I see that after God created everything on the seventh day, he rested. Now when I work hard, I love resting. I like taking a nap. I like getting some good sleep. Was God getting a nap on the seventh day? How did it get worked out in the creation account that you see it appear in Sabbath talk as well that comes from the law.
Dr. Mike Stallard: I don't like the word rest. I mean it's a good word, I guess to translate it, but the idea is that God ceased his creation work. He created in six days and He ceased it on the seventh day. So He's not tired. God never gets tired. We have passages to that effect.
Chris Katulka: He never slumbers nor sleeps.
Dr. Mike Stallard: Never slumbers or sleeps. Now in the 10 commandments he gave in chapter 28 to 11 he gave Moses and for all Israel the command not to work on the seventh day, to rest from their labors, but that's just to reflect his creation work of six days and his ceasing on the seventh day. So it's like a gigantic object lesson and given to the nation of Israel which is a perpetual sign for them. Exodus 31 tells us, so who we believe that the Sabbath of worship for Israel just reflects the creation order that's given in Genesis one.
Chris Katulka: I love that and for our listeners, I really hope that you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. We're going to actually have Dr. Mike Stallard back in the studio next week. We're going to be looking at some other issues in doctrine as well like sin, salvation and good works. So I want to encourage you to return next week as we look at the 19 key Christian principles that we here at the Friends of Israel stand on and I want to encourage you to get our new booklet that's out, Here We Stand, a great read for you. And so Mike, thank you so much for being in studio.
Dr. Mike Stallard: You're welcome.
Steve Conover: Israel, on the verge of becoming a state, a teenage Holocaust survivor arrives on her shores alone. His name is Zvi Kalisher. Little did he know his search for a new life in the Holy Land would lead him to the Messiah. Zvi, enthusiastic to share his faith, engaged others in spiritual conversations, many of which can be found in our magazine, Israel My Glory. While Zvi is now in the presence of his Savior, his collected writings from well over 50 years of ministry continue to encourage believers worldwide. Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life of Zvi.
Mike Kellogg: Not long ago I was up walking and four ultra Orthodox men stopped me on the street. "Do you recognize us?" We had a long conversation with you more than a year ago and your promise to continue our conversation. So are you ready?" “I am always ready.” “We spoke about This Man,” one said. By “This Man” they meant Jesus. The Orthodox will not say His Name. “My job is not to speak to you about a mere man, but I will be happy to continue our conversation about the need to have faith in the Lord according to the Bible.
You put your faith in fictional stories and in your rabbis.” Then one asked me, “which God” I believe in. They do not understand we believe in a single God composed of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So I showed them, Deuteronomy chapter six verse four which they chant three times daily in their synagogues: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one!”
One man angrily asked me, "And how many gods have you believed? We know whom you worship. How did you find Him?" “This is a good question.” I replied. “If you read from God's Word alone, you will learn how to know the Lord personally.” "Show us where this is written,” one said. I opened my Bible to Zechariah chapter nine verse nine where it is written, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey. A colt, the foal of a donkey." I told them, “you are in darkness. If you will worship God alone, then you will see the great light.” "What great light?" one asked. So I showed them Isaiah nine where it is written, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light."
They examined it closely to make sure it was the Bible. When they wanted to know which rabbi taught me this, I told them,” I do not learn from rabbis. I learned from the Bible.” One replied, "Most Christians speak about this Holy Spirit, but faith in such a One is against our religion." So I asked them if they considered King David a Christian. "No!" they all declared. "He was a good Jew." So I asked if they believe what is written in the Psalms. "Of course." they all replied. “Please read Psalm 51, pay attention to verse 11 since you say only Christians believe in the Holy Spirit.”
They read, "Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me." They were shocked. “I cannot believe what I have just read!” I said there is a big difference between those who trust in the Lord and His Word and those of you who trust in stories and the words of men, please pray that these men will study the Bible on their own and let the Holy Spirit speak to them through it.
Steve Conover: Thank you for being with us today. Chris, we have Dr. Mike Stallard back next week. Remind our listeners where we're headed.
Chris Katulka: That's right. We'll continue our conversation on doctrine and next week we're going to look at the doctrines of sin, salvation, good works and even eternal security. I think things that matter a lot to how a Christian stands on the truth of God's Word. But also just a reminder for our listeners, if you've not yet subscribed to Israel My Glory that you can get a full one year free subscription at no cost by simply visiting foiradio.org and there you can also find the booklet that we've been talking about, Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs that we've been talking about throughout the program.
Again, that's foiradio.org, foiradio.org.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold. Our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian Ministry, communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
Here We Stand: 19 Key Christian Beliefs
If someone asked you what you believed as a Christian—someone who values the unchanging Word of God and loves and supports Israel—how would answer them? Many struggle to understand what God’s Word says about Creation, the church, Jesus Christ, salvation, Israel, and the end-times.
Our hope is our booklet Here We Stand will equip you! Learning doctrine doesn’t have to be a chore. It can revitalize your walk with God and demonstrate your love for Him to others as you come to know Him better.
IN CANADA? ORDER HERE
Apples of Gold: Then You Will See a Great Light
Zvi was stopped by a group of Orthodox men who recognized him from a conversation he had with them once before. The men had many questions for Zvi because they knew he was a Christian. One thing the men wanted to know is how Christians can believe that God is Three in One: Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Listen to how Zvi took these men to their own Scriptures to show them the evidence of the Trinity.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
ISRAEL MY GLORY — FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION!
Hard-hitting, accurate, up-to-date analysis of Israel and the Middle East. Thought-provoking examination of God’s Word. Answers about the end-times. The truth behind today’s headlines. Immediate access to the latest books and resources. People who want to be informed—and have a heart for God’s Chosen People—rely on Israel My Glory.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.