Situational Ethics

Last week at the Institute Marvin Daniels spoke to our class about situational ethics. In the business world this topic is imperative. I know that as a Christian I must be even more intentional with the way I handle myself in difficult situations.  As Christians we know that we are called to a higher standard of living; therefore it is that much more important that we answer every situation with integrity. Every decision we make in life must be based on the Truth. We know that God’s Word is Truth. Therefore we must study Truth. Because I know that the Word is true, it affects my actions, my beliefs, and my decisions. When dealing with situational ethics my decisions and actions must be founded in Truth. By doing this I know that I am bringing God glory.

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Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

           

            The opening ten verses of chapter three of the book of Ecclesiastes are a great reminder to humanity that we have not control over anything.  In the opening verse of chapter three Solomon states that “there is a time for everything.”  This statement reminds people things happen, circumstances change, and nothing in this life or on this earth will last forever (outside of the word of God).  Solomon goes on giving specific examples of things in life that are going to happen.  He says, “there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”  Solomon is simply pointing out that anything can happen at any given time.  World War III could break out tomorrow and radically change our country or even the world.  I could be diagnosed with leukemia tomorrow.  A tornado could threaten to wipe Branson, Missouri off the map.  We have no control over any situation but God tells us through Solomon that “there is a time for everything” under the sun.  Solomon goes on to ask what we gain from this life or more specifically what a worker gains for his toil.  He wants to know if we are rewarded or if these things just happen.  And, honestly, God does not really give him a straight answer.  He instead comforts Solomon by saying “he has made everything beautiful in its own time.”  God is saying that we humans do not have the answers to any of the questions we want answered but that God is sovereign and we need to just enjoy our lives and take both the good and bad as they come.  Solomon goes on in verse twelve to say that there is nothing better for men to be happy and do good while they are alive.  I personally believe that true happiness only happens when I am committed to my relationship with Jesus Christ.  When I am walking with Christ then everything else seems to fall right into place, even on the bad days.  In verse thirteen Solomon says that man should eat, drink, and find satisfaction in their toil or work because it is a gift of God.  God wants us to ultimately look back at our lives and be happy and satisfied with the way we lived.  He wants us to say what the apostle Paul says at the end of his life in 2 Timothy 4:7.  That we have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Solomon then goes on to say that everything God does will endure forever and nothing can be added or taken from it.  Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.  God knows what happens next.  How cool is that?  I can apply this passage to my life in so many ways!  What a blessing!  There is a time for all of the things mentioned previously so I better start enjoying life and sharing my faith with every person I encounter because it might be my or that persons first or last opportunity to ever tell or be told the good news of Christ.  We can take comfort in the fact that God knows everything that is going to happen and that He already has told us what is going to happen at the end.  Spoiler alert: Jesus Christ returns and claims victory and we get to spend eternity with Him as long as we are believers.  Therefore the way I can best apply this passage to my life is to share the truth and power of the Gospel to every person I encounter.

 

Ecclesiastes 1-2 Critique

1:1 Solomon states that he is writing the book of Ecclesiastes

1:2 Solomon says that life is meaningless

1:3-4 He asks what man gains from all his labor “under the sun”

1:5-7 Solomon talks about the sun, wind, rivers, and other things on earth to prove that these things will just continue from generation to generation after we are gone

1:8-11 Somewhat depressing verses where Solomon states that “everything that has been will be again and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  He goes on to say that there is “no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered.”

-After this introduction Solomon begins talking about 3 specific things that are meaningless.

            1. Intellectualism/Wisdom: Solomon sought to explore by wisdom (philosophy) all that had been done.  Solomon’s response is it is a grievous task or heavy burden God has given!!!  14-Seen all the things under the sun, a chasing after the wind.  15-What is twisted can’t be straightened, what is lacking can’t be counted.  Can’t fix or change human nature.  The possibility of happiness apart from God is impossible!  16-17: Solomon talks about how wise he was and sought after his wisdom but he says it was like “chasing the wind” or is was meaningless.  18 “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” Therefore, Solomon concludes that intellectualism or wisdom leads to meaninglessness and not to truth.

            2. Hedonism/Pleasures: Let’s enjoy ourselves and do what feels good is what Solomon besides to do next, but to finds it is meaningless (2:1). Laughter doesn’t do it and he tried wine but that didn’t lead to happiness or meaning either. 

            3. Money (4-11): Solomon tries building houses, gardens, parks, reservoirs, trees, buying slaves, entertainment, and gathering wealth but none of these things led to Solomon’s happiness or gave his life meaning.  Verse 9-Solomon says next he became great and exceeded everyone in Jerusalem, he did not deny his eyes anything desired or his hearts desires and the only thing positive was the labor, not the end result.  When he looked over everything he had he says it was vanity.  Solomon said it was a chasing after the wind and that nothing was gained under the sun.

Solomon’s conclusion was this:

2:13 Wisdom is better than folly (being foolish) but both the fool and the wise will die!

2:17: Hates life and everything he has ever done.  His heart is depressed and he despaired because of this.

2:22-23: For all a mans work and toil he receives nothing but pain and grief. 

2:24: There is nothing in man but to eat and drink and tell himself his labor is good.  Man was not created to be independent of God

2:25-26: Solomon says mans’ enjoyment is only from God.  God gives wisdom (not worldly wisdom) and happiness to those who please Him but using it to glorify yourself only leads to vanity.  God is sovereign.  The sinner gathers and collects but loses it all when he dies.

3:1-10 Crisis

In these ten verses Solomon says there is a time for everything.  A few examples are “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time for war and a time for peace.”

3:11-15 Comfort

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart

12 yet none can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.

3:16-5 Conflicts

Solomon states that he sees five different conflicts in life “under the sun” in the this chapter and a half.  They are the following:

  1. Injustice-in place of judgment there is wickedness and in place of justice there is wickedness.  17 But God will judge both the righteous and the wickedness.  Every deed will be judged. 
  2. Oppression-
  3. Rivalry
  4. Materialism
  5. Popularity

5:1-7 Correction

1 Guard your steps when you enter the house of God. 

2-3 Do not be quick with your mouth or hasty in your heart.  God is God and we are to let our words be few.  Many words make you a fool.  

4-7 When you make a vow to God be sure to quickly fulfill it.  Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.  Fear God.

5:8-8 Correction

1. Seeing evil for what it is in God’s eyes-wealth in particular

2. Correct perspective about hard times

3. You need a clear perception of yourself

8 Rights will be denied and people with power will be corrupt

10 Money will not make you happy. 

11 The more money you have, the more money you want. 

12 The rich do not sleep because of their abundance (much on their mind). 

13 Riches hoarded are harmful to its owners. 

14 Riches can be gone in the blink of an eye.

15 You come into this world naked with nothing and you leave it just the same way!

16 So what do these people gain?

17 They eat and drink in darkness with frustration, affliction, and anger. 

18 Enjoy your work and you life because it is short! 

19 A persons joy doesn’t come from their money but use it for joy and the Lord. 

20 God fills them with joy.

Chapter 6: Another evil is a wealthy person who isn’t content or enjoy that wealth.

3-6 He won’t enjoy friends, family or anything. His life will be meaningless.

10 God has ordained everything that exists.  He made him to enjoy God and what he has blessed us with.  No one can contend with someone who is stronger (God!!!). 

11 More words=less meaning (fools). 

12 Who knows what is good in this fleeting life and meaningless days?  Who will tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?  GOD!!!!

7:1 A good name is a good thing

3 Sorrow is good for the heart

5 Better to heed a wise mans rebuke than listen to fools

7 Extortion turns a wise man into a fool, and a bribe corrupts the heart

8 End better than beginning and patience is better than pride

10 Don’t question why the glory days were better than the current ones

11-12 Wisdom is good for it is a shelter, but so is money.  Wisdom holds the advantage, however, because it preserves the life of its possessor

13-14 God makes the good and the bad times

15-18 Sometimes the righteous suffer and the wicked live well.  Don’t be over-righteous or over wicked.  Fear God and avoid all extremes.

19 Wisdom is power

20 No one is truly righteous

21-22 Don’t listen to idle chatter or believe everything you hear

23-29 Solomon looks at the good and the bad, the wise and the fools and says the only thing he has found is that “God made mankind upright but men have gone in search of many schemes.”

8-12 Counsel

1. Do the right thing 8:2-17

2. Have fun 9:1-10

3. Be poised Chapters 9-10

4. Be bold Chapters 9-10

5. Start young 11:7-21:8

6. Know the Bible 12:9-14

Final Conclusion:

13 “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

14 “For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

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Romans Overview

 

               The book of Romans is a sixteen chapter book that Paul wrote to the church in Rome before he actually visited them.  The book of Romans was written while Paul was on his third missionary journey.  He was planning on going to Rome shortly after writing his letter and actually did go as a prisoner as he was arrested in Jerusalem upon his return from his third and final missionary journey.

               In the first chapter of the book of Romans Paul opens up with his introduction.  He has similar introductions to all of his letters usually ending with something similar to “grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Also in the introduction Paul goes through the power of the Gospel.  In verses 8-15 Paul goes on to tell of his plan and longing to visit the church in Rome so that he may teach them and help them learn.  Verses 16-17 talk about the theme of Romans and can be the theme of the whole Bible.  These verses say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believers: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” 

               For the rest of chapter 1 through half of chapter 3 Paul starts talking about the condemnation of the mankind and the need for God’s righteousness.  For the rest of chapter 1 Paul is specifically writing to the Gentiles and talks about God giving them over to “shameful lusts and depraved minds.”  In all of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3 Paul is speaking specifically to the Jews.  Paul goes into detail about God’s judgment and goes on to talk about the law and circumcision having no value outside of righteousness.  Paul even talks about the unrighteousness of the Jews in the Old Testament when they were only living under the law and circumcision.  He closes this thought of condemnation by saying that all men (both Jew and Gentile) are accountable to God. 

               For the rest of chapter 3 through chapter 5 Paul talks about justification and the provision of God’s righteousness.  In the rest of chapter 3 Paul talks about the righteous living by faith.  In chapter 4, Paul talks about how faith was the standard for Abraham and David and it remains the standard for believers now.  Paul then says that faith is more than a tradition and is greater than the law.  In chapter 5, Paul says that the result of righteousness is peace and joy in Christ Jesus and closes by contrasting Adam with Christ.

               In chapters 6 through 8 Paul talks about sanctification and the demonstration of God’s righteousness.  Chapter 6 specifically goes talks about identifying with Christ and being a slave to righteousness.  In chapter 7 Paul talks about the law.  He says the law is dead and talks about the purpose of the law being for people to know what rules to uphold.  However, it is impossible to uphold the law apart from Christ.  Chapter 8 is about the power of the Holy Spirit, future glory, and conquerors.

               Paul talks about restoration in chapters 9 through 11.  Chapter 9 really talks about Israel’s rejection and lack of faith in God.  In chapter 10 Paul talks about how salvation in the Old Testament (Moses) is the same as in the New Testament.  He also talks about Israel’s rejection of the Gospel towards the end of chapter 10.  In chapter 11 Paul talks about how Israel’s rejection was not total and that “all Israel will be saved.” 

               In chapters 12 through some of chapter 15 Paul’s theme is application.  Chapter 12 is about living righteously through our bodies, our gifts, and our lives.  Chapter 13 talks about living righteously through our submission and interaction with others.  Chapter 14 is about living righteously through unity in diversity, personal sacrifice, and authentic worship. 

               The second half of chapter 15 through chapter 16 is Paul’s conclusion of the letter to the church in Rome.  In the latter parts of chapter 15 Paul tells the church in Rome to plan and take the gospel to where it has not been taken yet.  Chapter 16 is Paul’s conclusion to the church in Rome.  He closes saying “to God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!  Amen.”

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Ephesians 2

 

          Ephesians 2 is a great book to look at and outline for a Christian.  The overall theme of chapter 2 of the book of Ephesians is that we (Christians) are made alive in Christ through His sacrifice for our sins on the Christ.  It goes on to talk about our salvation being a gift that we cannot earn.  Also, that Christians were created to do good works.  These are the “themes” of Ephesians 2 but the overall theme is that Christians are made alive in Christ.

            In the beginning of chapter 2, Paul (the writer of the book of Ephesians) opens up by saying that we (Christians) were dead in your transgressions and sins because we did not have salvation in Christ.  It is saying that we were living in the ways of the world and not of the Lord.  Verse 3 says that all of us lived according to the ways of the world at one time in sin and following the desires and thoughts of the flesh.  Then, in verses 4 and 5, Paul says that because God loves us so much and is merciful, He sent Christ to make us alive even though we were dead because of our sins.  Verse 6 says that through Jesus we (Christians) are able to enter in Heaven.  And verse 7 goes on to say that God places us in Heaven to show His incomparable grace through the kindness displayed by Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 2:8-9 are two of the most important and popular verses in the entire Bible.  They say, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.”  These verses are very simple to summarize.  These verses are saying that Christians are saved only by the grace of God.  There is nothing that any person can ever do to earn the salvation that we are offered through Jesus Christ.  Our salvation is a gift that God freely offers to those who believe that His Son died for our sins and transgressions.  Verse 10 says that Christians are considered God’s “workmanship” or work force and we were created to do “good works prepared in advance for us to do by God.”  This verse is just saying that God called us to do good works that He had planned for us before we were even born or thought about.  This verse has often been used by Calvinists to support their theory of predestination.

            In Ephesians 2:11 Paul starts talking about Gentiles and saying that we were once called “uncircumcised” and not accepted by God.  That at the time we were separate from Christ, not citizens of His kingdom or people.  Verse 13 goes on to say that because of Jesus Christ we have been allowed to become citizens of the kingdom and chosen children of God.  Verse 13 says that Christ is our peace and He destroyed the barrier that separated the Gentiles from the Jews by abolishing the old law.  And by so doing this, He reconciled both the Gentiles and the Jews to God through the cross, where He was put to death for all of our sins.  Verse 17 says Jesus came to preach peace to those who were near (Jews) as well as those who were far away (Gentiles).  And verse 18 says that we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.  Therefore, it is the same for all people to enter Heaven and this is through Jesus Christ.  Verse 19 says that because of this we are no longer strangers and aliens, but citizens or members of God’s household.  Verse 20 states that the foundation was laid by the prophets and apostles but the Jesus Christ is the “chief cornerstone” (most important part).  Through Jesus Christ the whole building is joined together and because of Jesus Christ the building is considered holy and pleasing to the Lord.  Verse 22 says that in Christ are temple (body) is being built (developed) to become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.

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My Responsibility

Afshin Ziafat is one of the many incredible speakers we had the opportunity to learn from while here at the Institute. Afshin is an Iranian-American who converted from being a Muslim to a Christian while in High School.  Not only is his testimony incredible, but he also speaks with a conviction that makes you want to share the Gospel. As the week came to a close he asked us what we believe a believers responsibility is to the Gospel. What is my responsibility to the Gospel?

The first conclusion we came to is that a believer is not to be ashamed of the Gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:8 Paul tells us “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of my His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” The word Gospel literally means “good news.” Why is it that we as Christians have the best news possible yet we are not sharing this good news with the world? We should not be ashamed.

The second conclusion we came to is that believers are to apply what we learn. Every Sunday many Christians attend church. We sit, hear the message, leave talking about how powerful the message was, and do nothing about it. What benefit do we get from hearing the Word but not doing anything about it? Not applying the Word to our lives inhibits us from fulfilling the Great Commission we are given in Matthew 28:19.   As Christians we are commanded to walk out our faith, to be filled with the Spirit, and to produce fruit (James 1:22, Galatians 5:22, Matthew 7:17-19).  Afshin asked us ‘what in your life visibly shows that you are living out your faith and obeying God?’ What fruit are we producing? Can non-believers (or even lukewarm believers) able to see your faith according to how you live your life?

The last conclusion we came to is that we must handle the Word correctly. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” But we know that in order to accurately handle the Word we must know the Word, we must study the Word. The Bible is not up for interpretation.

As Christians we have a responsibility to the Gospel. Each one of us. In 1 Corinthians 12 we see that each believer is given a spiritual gift. Each individual’s gift is imperative in making the body of Christ move.  As a believer God chose you. He chose you because He knows you can make an impact in the World for His glory. He chose you to not be ashamed of the Gospel, to apply the Word to your life and to live it out, and to accurately handle the Word.

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Faith Hall of Fame

           In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11, a person will find a chapter that is titled “Faith in Action.”  This passage of scripture is also known as the “Hall of Fame of Faith” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.”  It is a very known passage of scripture and is often taught on.

            The first verse in Hebrews 11 is a verse that most Christians know and have heard.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (New International Version).  This verse is pretty easy to summarize as it is not overly complicated.  Having faith is trusting and hoping in what a person believes even when the evidence is not completely, physically there for the person to see.  The writer goes on to say that the “ancient” people who had faith were blessed because of it.  An example is that God created the universe but it was not made out of things that can be seen on this earth.  The first person to be brought up in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Abel.  Hebrews 11 tells us that Abel brought a better offering than his brother Cain in faith.  Because of this faith the Lord counted Abel as righteous and Cain (who killed his brother) was cursed.  The second person talked about in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Enoch.  The Bible tells us that Enoch was “taken away by God” so that he did not have to die a human death.  Hebrews 11 tells us that the Lord was blessing Enoch for his faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please God because a true believer has to believe that God exists and seek to serve and please God.  The third person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Abraham.  Abraham was faithful to God by obeying Him and leaving his home to go where the Lord called him, even though he did not know where that was.  He lived with tents in a foreign land (the promised land) along with two of the other patriarchs (Isaac and Jacob).  The fourth person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Sarah.  Sarah had faith that the Lord was fulfill His promise and give her a son.  The Lord blessed Abraham and Sarah for their faith and patience.  Hebrews 11 goes on to tell us because Abraham was faithful his descendants now are as numerous as the stars.  Abraham also had enough faith in the Lord to offer his own son, Isaac, as a sacrifice when the Lord told him to.  He had faith that the Lord had a plan.

            The fifth person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Isaac.  Isaac gave his sons Jacob and Esau a blessing in faith.  The sixth person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Jacob.  Hebrews 11:21 says that by faith Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons and worshipped as he leaned on his staff.  This has always been so cool to me because back in Genesis 32:25 Jacob wrestles with God (or an angel) and injures his hip.  This is why he worshipped as he leaned on his staff!  The seventh person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Joseph.  Joseph, by faith, spoke of the Exodus.  The eighth person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Moses.  By faith Moses refused to be known as Egyptian royalty and chose to be treated as a lowly Israelite.  He looked ahead to his reward in Heaven, not to the instant gratification and rewards he could receive in Egypt.  He left and led the people out of Egypt by faith.  By faith the people crossed the Red Sea and trusted that the Lord would give them the promised land.  The final person in the “Faith Hall of Fame” is Rahab.  Rahab had faith that the spies were from the Lord and hid them.  Because of her faith, Rahab was not killed with the rest of Jericho when the walls came tumbling down. 

            The writer goes on to say he does not have time to tell about all of the others who were worthy to be on the list.  He does tell some of the miracles and great things that were accomplished because of peoples’ great faith in the Lord and he also tells us that the world was not worthy of them.  The final two verses of Hebrews 11 states that all of these people were commended for their faith but none of them received what they had been promised because God wanted them to be made perfect through us and so that His name could be glorified.  Not the people who are listed in Hebrews 11.

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3 in 1

The doctrine of the Trinity is something that is absolutely fundamental to the Christian faith.  First of all, the doctrine of the Trinity is a monotheistic view of God within Christianity.  Monotheism is the belief in one God within a religion (unlike polytheism which believes in multiple gods).  This is absolutely crucial to understand because many people of Islamic faith and other world religions believe that Christianity is a polytheistic faith.  They believe this about Christianity because of the doctrine of the Trinity.

            The doctrine of the Trinity states that our God is made up of three separate persons.  The first person that helps make up the doctrine of the Trinity is God the Father.  God the Father is the all-powerful creator of the heavens and the earth.  He has always been and knows what was and is and is to come.  The second person that helps make up the doctrine of the Trinity is Jesus Christ or the Son of God.  Jesus Christ was begotten from God Himself.  He is not a different person from the God the Father.  He is God incarnate who came to earth to die for every person who has and will ever live on the earth.  He was crucified and rose three days later and now sits at the right hand of God the Father.  The third and final person that makes up the doctrine of the Trinity is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Lord that comes upon a person when they become a believer.  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son and is once again a separate entity.  The Holy Spirit descended upon the Son upon His baptism and came to believers on the day of Pentecost after the Son ascended to heaven.  These are some of the distinctions between the three persons that make up the doctrine of the Trinity that Christians believe.

            All three persons of the doctrine of the Trinity equals and they also all come together to form the one God of Christianity.  While they form this one God of Christianity they are each equally and fully divine.  God is and always has been eternally triune, however, the Trinity is not really mentioned until the ministry of Jesus Christ (the Son).  However, the Holy Spirit is in the Bible long before Jesus Christ’s ministry.  The Holy Spirit would come upon prophets in the Old Testament and they would perform great powers and be filled with the “Spirit of God.” 

            To sum up this paper on the doctrine of the Trinity why it is important I will quote Glenn Kreider notes and lecture.  Dr. Kreider first said, “There is one God.”  He then went on to say that, “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.”

He went on to say, “The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son.”  The doctrine of the Trinity is something that most people struggle to grasp and is something that will never be fully fathomable to any human.  It is a complex doctrine that we certainly can ask God about when we reach heaven someday.  However, it’s importance from a standpoint of attempting to know the persons of God and develop a more in depth, personal relationship with our God cannot be overlooked.  We study the doctrine of the Trinity so that we may further our relationship and walk with the Lord.  Also, we study the doctrine of the Trinity so that when we are asked a difficult question or hear someone misquote or misuse scripture about the doctrine of the Trinity, we can step in and attempt to shed light on a subject that no person can every fully comprehend.

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