Travis: Well, last time we, we, were briefly discussing Bancroft’s proofs for God existent, God’s existence established by reason and revelation. We were talking about how what he wrote there compares with what we’ve talked about is the transcendental argument for God’s existence, he didn’t use that language, but we just noticed that language is there.
The proof of God’s existence is in the impossibility of the contrary, that is, without the existence of God, you can’t explain anything that we actually know and see. We also talked about the necessity of divine revelation for the right knowledge of God. That is, we are not intuiting anything about God. We’re not looking within ourselves, we are looking within Gods holy word and taking his word for, you know, taking his word about himself, as true knowledge about him.
We also got into theology proper. We introduced the subject, acknowledging right off the bat, the fundamental incomprehensibility of God and we’re going to talk a little bit about what, about that more today. And then we’re, we’re, just about to make a transition from acknowledging God’s fundamental incomprehensibility to the fact that even though he is fundamentally incomprehensible, we can still know him personally. And at that point, time ran out.
So, we we’re, we’re back to that today and that’s where we’re going to begin. Talking, first of all about the fundamental incomprehensibility of God, and we’ll just call this section, knowing the incomprehensible God, knowing the incomprehensible God. God is incomprehensible, and that is to say he’s fundamentally incomprehensible to finite creatures. And yet there is a lot we can know about God. Okay, even though he, we can’t fully comprehend him because he’s infinite and we’re finite, there is a lot that we can know and understand.
I’m going to read here from the Athanasian Creed, which describes God. He’s, e’syou’ve heard this statement before, one God in Trinity, and Trinity and unity, sounds self-contradictory, but it’s not. But I want you to listen to this. I’m going to read through this statement from the Athanasian Creed. Notice how each statement of attribution in this creed becomes like a, like every single statement, almost you know different words that you hear, almost becomes like a doorway into this infinite room of exploration for further study and, and, worship.
God is every, every, every angle you look at him from is another infinitude of understanding him and so just by Athanasian Creed here, just by its, it’s trying to describe the Trinity and protect not only the oneness of God’s essence or being, but also to affirm the tri-personality of God. And it’s trying to affirm and protect all of that.
And in just listening to this, we’re overwhelmed with the fundamental incomprehensibility of our God. And that’s what I want you to sense here. Listen to this. “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance. But there is one person of the father, another of the son, and another of the Holy Spirit. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one. The glory equal. The Majesty Co-eternal, such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit. The Father uncreated, the son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated, the Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible, the Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal. And yet they are not three eternals, but one eternal. And as also there are not three uncreated, nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated in one incomprehensible, so likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son is almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty, and yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
“So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet they are not three gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord, and yet there are not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the catholic,” small C, “religion to say there are three gods or three Lords.” We’re forbidden to say that.
“The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son, neither made nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three fathers, one Son not three sons, one Holy Spirit, not three holy spirits. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another, none is greater or less than another, but the whole three persons are Co-eternal and Co-equal, so that in all things, as afore said, the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.” Excellent statement, isn’t it? Very, very clear.
Audience: Athanasian Creed?
Travis: Athanasian creed.
Audience: So that’s like ATHEAN.
Travis: ATHANAS. Let me see if I got.
Audience: It’s spelled IAN
Travis: IAN, Yeah, Athanasian. So, you can see how there are fences created all around these statements about God so that we don’t fall off into a ditch on one side or the other. And as you hear the, the, statements about our God, it’s just something that, these are truths that we don’t fully comprehend, because I’m one being with one personality. I can’t understand one being three personalities. Ahh, three persons. I can’t understand that.
We find similar wording: This is Athanasian creed. I can’t. I’m trying to think of the time frame. And the Athanasian Creed wasn’t written, by the way, of, by Athanasius. It was written far after him, hundreds of years after him. But it does affirm Athanasian doctrine against the Arians. So, but listen to this statement from Augustine, which comes much earlier. Let me see if I. Hope I marked the right place here.
Yeah, here we go, he says. “The, the, Trinity, one God of whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things. Thus the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and each of these by himself is God. And at the same time they are all one God, and each of them by himself is a complete substance, and yet they are all one substance. The Father is not the son, nor the Holy Spirit. The son is not the Father nor the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not the Father nor the Son, but the Father is only Father, the Son is only Son, and the Holy Spirit is only Holy Spirit.”
“So all three belong the same eternity, the same unchangeableness, the same majesty, the same power. The Father is unity in the Son, equality in the Holy Spirit, the harmony of unity and” quality or “equality, and these three attributes are all one because of the Father, all equal because of the Son, and all harmonious because of the Holy Spirit.” That’s Augustine.
So Athanasius looks back to Augustine, all of us in the, or the Athanasian creed looks back to Augustine, and all of us are looking back and seeing the same thing affirmed, all through church history.
Audience: That’s about 400 late, late, fourth, early fifth century. That is what I found here.
Travis: On the Athanasian Creed.
Audience: Yeah, late, late, fifth. Early sixth, actually.
Travis: Actually. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I can say that. Not forth. So as Augustine continues in this section, he’s, he acknowledges what we’re going to call the fundamental incomprehensibility of God, which, which, he describes in this term using the, the, word ineffable. You ever heard of that before? The Ineffability of God. That is the indescribable ability, the inexpressive ability of God.
Listen to this, he says, “Have I spoken of God or uttered his praise in any worthy way? Nay, I feel that I have done nothing more than desire to speak, and if I’ve said anything, it is not what I desire to say. How do I know this except from the fact that God is unspeakable? But what I have said, if it had been unspeakable, could not have been spoken. And so God is not even to be called unspeakable, because to say even this is to speak of him.”
Good. All right. “Thus there arises a curious contradiction of words, because if the unspeakable is what cannot be spoken of. It is not unspeakable if it can be called unspeakable. And this opposition of words is rather to be avoided by silence, than to be explained away by speech and yet God, although nothing worthy of his greatness can be said of him, has condescended to accept the worship of men’s mouths, and has desired us, through the medium of our own words, to rejoice in his praise.
“For on this principle, it is that he is called Deus, God. But the sound of those two syllables in itself conveys no true knowledge of his nature. But yet all who know the Latin tongue are led, when that sound reaches their ears, to think of a nature supreme in excellence and eternal in existence.”
He’s talking about the, obviously the difficulty that we have in trying to say something about God. He’s, he’s, even saying in that, that, for affirmation of the triunity of God and, and, the, the, harmony that exists in, in, the triune persons. He’s trying to say I, I, I can’t even, I can’t even utter it or explain it. I can’t say it correctly, and yet, what am I going to do, but try to speak. And even if I were to say, what we know about God is unspeakable, why, I just said something about God.
And so he, he’s just forced to acknowledge the, the, difficulty of expressing the, the, incomprehensible God. And yet that’s exactly what God requires of us and what God accepts from us is imperfect utterance. Imperfect words of praise and worship of him. So we see, we see in God a, his fundamental, indescribable ability. Ineffable. He’s the ineffable God, and yet we do describe him, and he condescends to accept from his creatures that kind of worship.
So we shouldn’t be put off by the fact that our God is beyond our comprehension and outside of our full comprehension. We should actually come to him, near to him, and continue to work, and to try to understand and try to explain. So it’s a good endeavor. Augustine, I think, is saying that we try to do this thing called theology. Okay? That’s what he’s trying to say.
So when your wife asks you, hey, what did you guys talk about this morning? You can tell her legitimately. I truly can’t tell you. We spoke of the, of the ineffable; of that which cannot be spoken. But when we say that God is fundamentally incomprehensible or ineffable, we’re not saying, like I said, we’re not saying that God is unknowable. We’re simply acknowledging our creaturely limitations due to that creature, or creator creature distinction. We’re just saying the finite cannot comprehend the infinite.
So I want to give you some, turn in your Bibles to Exodus chapter 33, some encouraging passages. I hope these passages will be encouraging to you, to help us to reflect on this truth, that although the truth about God cannot be fully comprehended by finite creatures, that is us, the truth about him can be apprehended and appreciated, understood and then obeyed, as we worship God in, you know, in, see his glory.
In Exodus Chapter 33, we’ll start reading here in verse, someone else just turned to John, 1:14 to 18 and just hold your finger there. Someone maybe can read that for us. But Exodus 33, listen to this, starting verse 7. “Moses used to take the tent, pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of” meaning, “meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting, which was outside the camp.
“And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people would rise up, and each would stand to his tent door, and watch Moses until he’d gone into the tent. When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend.” This is the shekinah, glory of God, right? So that pillar of cloud, the shekinah, glory of God, “would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.”
This is condescension of the highest degree, isn’t it? He’d speak with Moses, “and when all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would rise up and worship, each at his tent door. Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again”, to the camp, “turned again into the camp, his assistant, Joshua, the son of nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
“Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, you say to me, “bring up this people,” but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name. You will have also found favor in my sight. Now, therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.’ And he said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’
“And he,” that is Moses, “said to him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the Earth? And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’
“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name “The Lord”. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. And then I will take away my hand, you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.’”
Now skip down to 34, verse 5. This says “the Lord” sen, “descended in the cloud and stood with him there, proclaimed the name of the Lord. The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty. Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.’ Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshipped.”
And stop there. There’s obviously a separation and a distance between Moses and God in, in, in, even what can, what, what, Moses can comprehend and what he can endure of God’s presence. And yet God still condescends, and he proclaims his name to Moses, and he proclaims his name in the form of attributes. You see that? That’s what we’re attempting to do, is to understand God by proclaiming his attributes. Yeah, Chuck.
Audience: Try to see if you used the word condescend condescending. Could you define that for us, please?
Travis: Come down. Yep. Come down to be with, is kind of, you know, maybe even to break apart that word. Descend; con with; descend; condescend to, means to come near, to come down to and be with. Okay? So someone who has John 1:14 to 18, read that.
Audience: “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory; glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, ‘This is he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks before me. because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
Travis: We don’t have time. Thank you, Doug. We don’t have time to, to, fully unpack that, but it is interesting if you take what we read out of Exodus 33 and 34, and compare it with John 1:14 to 18, you’ll see the same terms in John 1:14 to 18 that have, that are showing up in Exodus 33 and 34. This is the, the, th, shekinah, glory of God is now dwelling. His is, he’s, he’s, it says here, “We have seen his glory; glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Those terms right there are exactly what God proclaimed to Moses when he, when he, passed by him in the cleft of the rock.
So anyway. I don’t want to, I don’t, I don’t want to get off track. I’ll go for a long time, if I talk, try to talk about that. But here in Jeremiah it’s because of Jesus Christ who made the father known, made the, the, un, the invisible God visible. It’s because of him that we can know anything about God. Says in Jeremiah 31 or, yeah, 31:34, “No longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
That’s the promise of the new covenant, that is inaugurated in Jesus Christ. And because he’s inaugurated that new covenant, and we have our sin forgiven, in him we can all know the Lord from the least to the greatest. And so that’s why in Jeremiah 9, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”
Audience: Jeremiah 9 or
Travis: 23 to 20. Yeah, Jeremiah 9:23 to 24 and before that I read Jeremiah 31:34. What I’m trying to show in these passages is to show that this God who cannot be fully comprehended, at the same time he can be known, and he’s known in Jesus Christ, who is the pinnacle of his revelation. The visible, the invisible God being made known through the visible, Jesus Christ. He is the inaugurator of a new covenant which has to do with the forgiving of our sins, that we might know God.
And it says, “from the very least to the very greatest.” And, as you see in Jeremiah 9, it doesn’t have to do with our wealth, doesn’t have to do with our strength, it doesn’t have to do with our any, anything like that. It has to do with “from the very least to the very greatest of us,” which from God’s perspective, we all look pretty much the same. Whether, whether, we’re the most powerful man on the earth, of the weakest man on earth, or whether we’re the richest or the poorest, or the, the, intellectually most intelligent, or the, the, most thick, you might say, we still can all know God.
So, the doctrine of divine incomprehensibility, to say that God is, cannot be fully comprehended by finite creatures, that’s just to acknowledge our limitations, but it’s not to discourage our study of him. That’s what I want to make clear. And that is actually our birthright as Christians, for us to be able to know God. This, the access to the most, the greatest treasure that there is, is God himself, the source of all treasure. And we can all know him.
And so God says; everybody has the access to me. “Let him who boasts, boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight.” So that should, should, should encourage all of us to pursue that knowledge. Okay?
So I want to ask a couple questions before we move on. Get into some of the talking about the attributes of God, just to reflect on this issue of fundamental incomprehensibility of God, and also at the same time the knowability of God, so we can do theology properly and benefit from it. So here’s the first question for you. Just to wake you up, get you, get you going here in your minds. What, in what ways does this fact, that is the fundamental; let’s talk about the fundamental incomprehensibility of God. In what way does this fact run contrary to the spirit of our modern age?
Audience: Our modern age pushes us to know everything all the time and judges us when we don’t.
Travis: Okay? So, the fundamental incomprehensibility of God confronts that spirit. Just flesh that out a little bit. So, so what?
Audience: Well, so I, I, think we have to recognize that there are limitations to knowledge where faith takes hold.
Travis: And yet faith isn’t absent knowledge, it is’nt divorced from knowledge. Right? So, we don’t we don’t want to talk about any leap off the existential cliff into the great black oblivion of faith. That’s not. That’s not true. Joe, your going to say something?
Audience: You’re saying that we that like you can only know what your senses tell you. You only can know what you feel. And, and, if you haven’t experienced it and you haven’t wrapped your whole mind around it, then it’s, it’s, like out in the rumble, unknowable. So.
Travis: So. Our, our, the spirit of our modern age is fundamentally it’s materialism. Materialism which says all that exists is matter. And so if all that exists is matter, we feel like we can comprehend the knowledge of that. It’s kind of back to what Wayne said that, we, the spirit of the modern age, says that we can know all those facts.
It, we’ll gather them. Eventually we’ll put them on the Internet and then Wikipedia, and we can just have access to that knowledge and download it into our brains. Eventually we can all be plugged in, wired, maybe even have a wire sticking into our head. You know, where we can be completely filled with data at, at, at, our command.
The fundamental incomprehensibility of God, points out the lie of that. And he is, he’s beyond, like you said, Joe, beyond our five senses. He, there is a non-material entity that has actually produced all material. All facts come from God. Good. Nicholas, you’re gonna say something.
Audience: Yeah, it’s kind of been said, but I was just thinking about the connection to the, the, like the scientific method and how that really drives that mindset of relying on observation and thinking we can observe and, and, quantify everything. And, and, then also, just with that comes this sense of like we, we, can know everything, like you were saying. And eventually we’ll be able to, you know, it’s kind of like our modern Tower of Babel, we can, we can go to space, we can go to, we can do whatever we want as human beings as, as, long as, you know, we learn enough.
Travis: Good way of putting that. This is our modern Tower of Babel. And again, just emphasize the scientific method is a good method. Isn’t it? It’s for, for, observing physical things. But there are metaphysical realities that don’t fit in with the scientific method. They’re even physical realities, like this created world. We have to accept somebody else’s testimony about how this came to be. Scientific method can’t apply to what happened, you know, at the very beginning, the origin, right? So. We’re, we’re, back to metaphysics. We’re back to something that’s greater than our physical, what our senses can, can, touch, and, feel ,and see, and taste, and all that, right, and hear. Chuck.
Audience: Just the, just the notion that we’re arrogant if we think we know the truth is also really common nowadays. You know that the, yeah. How? How can you say you know the truth? Nobody knows the truth. So it’s, it’s, very arrogant of us as Christians. That’s the, that’s the, world’s view of us.
Travis: So people, yeah, people saying that we’re arrogant; we know the truth, and, and, what, what, what, you might do with that when people make that statement is just to maybe play off of it as a doorway, as an entry point to say, Hey, you know, I totally get where you’re coming from. Arrogant to know the truth. Because what you’re, what you’re sensing is the fundamental incomprehensibility of the, of the, Triune God.
And yet, at the same time the Bible tells us; the one that he wrote and revealed to us; he’s made, it, himself accessible to us at some level; and so there is much that we can know, and it’s actually arrogant to say we can’t know what God says we can know, because you’re putting yourself above God. So you can kind of flip it around and kind of use it as an entry point, then flip it around them. Scotty?
Audience: So I was just going to say, like, the fact that God is incomprehensible, it, it, doesn’t allow you to make God whatever you want, like people are doing these days.
Travis: Okay, good. Yeah. So the fact of God’s incomprehensibility means, contrary to the spirit of the modern age, we can’t make God into whatever we want to. Can’t shape him and form him into what we, he’s beyond what we say, we what we think, he’s, he is. You know, it’s we have to take his word and accept what he says and go no further. Couple more, just a alright, couple more comments real quick.
Audience: I just wanted to add a quick one. I actually take a lot of relief in the incomprehensibility of God, because if, if, God was comprehensible, then someone could have a better relationship than you do, or could know him better than you. But there’s a certain amount of relief in the fact that, try as we might, no one will ever have the full understanding. So, we’re all just trying to, you know, learn as best we can from what he has given us and, you know, it there, there’s a little bit of relief from being on the journey together.
Travis: That’s good. That’s a good point. Yeah. You don’t you don’t feel the spirit of, that you shouldn’t feel the spirit of competition right, about trying to get ahead of the other guy who know; and, and, look again or I’ll remind you again. You don’t need to look. But in Jeremiah 9:24, “Let him who boasts boast in this.” So, if you want to boast in something “boast in this that you understand and know God that he’s,” what, he’s the, “he’s the Lord who practices steadfast love, and justice, and righteousness.”
And boasting in our own knowledge of God is not any of those things. Boasting in understanding and knowing God that his character, his love, justice and righteousness, and that’s what he practices on the earth. And if we know him, we practice the same things.
I was talking to, the, our kids last night just about this. Seeing, seeing that in Christ as he walks around this earth and he, he makes himself accessible and he loves and he was loving tax gatherers and sinners, you know, those, those, others that joined Matthew at his house, you know, for that banquet for Jesus. There’s no sense of, of, condemnation there from Christ. He’s there among them there?
Their, their language is probably pretty salty. Some of the topics of their conversation pretty bad. And yet what does he do? He’s there to reveal God to them. He’s reaching them. He’s, I was reading the story about the widow, the widow’s son in Nain. But Jesus, he just saw this funeral procession going by and had compassion and he just, there’s no, there’s nothing demanding him to go there and, and, raise her son from the dead; but, he just, it’s breaking his heart to see this widow lose her only son.
Goes and raises him from the dead and hands her, hands him back to this weeping mother to restore her joy. Is he, is the kid going to die again? Sure. He just has his compassion. That’s our God revealed in Christ. And that’s how we need to treat others. We’re going to get into that on the Sermon on the Mount as soon as we’re done with Resurrection Sunday. Bret’s going to preach a couple weeks and then I’m into the Sermon on the Mount. I cannot wait. Can’t wait for Luke’s version of it. They’ll all be practicing this, Doug,
Audience: I was just going to say, even though the, the, world wants to explain everything, they’re constantly confronted with the fact that they can’t, because the two most well supported theories in all of science. Contradict each other completely.
Travis: Give us those two theories.
Audience: Well, it’s the theory of relativity and quantum theory. And theory of relativity says absolutely nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. And the quantum theory says all particles, electrons are paired with each other, and when one flips, the other one automatically flips no matter how far apart they are. So that means that something’s traveling faster than the speed of light. So the two of them are absolutely contradictory. You cannot believe in one and the other at the same time. And yet they are the two best theories in all of science. I need a, I need a separate lesson on that one.
Travis: Yeah, it might have to have you.
Audience: But it’s like, I mean, when, when, you look at the difference between say, quantum theory and evolutionary theory, quantum theory stacks up pretty well. We’ve done a lot with it. But evolutionary theory has all these holes and missing pieces, and it’s barely standing on one leg really compared, comparatively. But the two of those that are so well thought out, totally contradict each other.
Travis: Interesting. Yeah, that’s fascinating. There, yeah, we are confronted with our, our, our, grasping and we are really grasping. And the most, the, the, the most intelligent among us are still grasping. Get down to it.
Audience: In their arrogance they think; Oh, we got this. We got. Yeah. And. And it’s, it’s interesting, because they think they got it and they really don’t. I mean we don’t even understand what matter is, at all. right? Right. I mean, how much do we know? We know a lot, and we can do a lot with it, but we can’t even know what matter is.
Travis: Right? That’s right. You get down to the atomic level and, what’s holding this together.
Audience: Yeah. What holds it together? Well, you know, they, they just call it the strong force, but really, we don’t know what it is.
Travis: It’s called God.
Audience: We don’t even know what the gravity is. Exactly, it’s a very strong force.
Audience: You know the one thing that’s still in all this, you cannot explain that how you don’t have to teach your kid to sin; when their born.
Travis: Well, yeah, that’s right. Yeah. We also
Audience: Don’t have the teach them.
Travis: We also can see. Yeah, that’s explained biblically. And we can also see in kids that they have a, they have a sense of the divine, they’re born with it. It’s atheists who are frustrated continually every time a child is born that they have to disabuse this child of the notion that God is. They have to teach atheism. They have to enforce atheism on kids, because kids aren’t born saying; There is no God. They’re born saying; God, somebody made me. Yeah, they know it.
So back to you. You had a good comment there that, it gives a segue to this next question. What should the fact of God’s, in, fundamental incomprehensibility promote in us? What attitudes should be promoted in us, as we think about his fundamentally incomprehensible nature?
Audience: Awe is one thing.
Travis: Excellent. Yeah.
Travis: Awe, humility, reverence.
Audience: I go back to my earlier comment of relief. Rest.
Travis: Yeah, you, you kind of settle into the fact that, okay, I don’t need to be all, all, knowing. I just, I just need to worship my God.
Audience: There’s a lot pressure in our culture to know everything.
Travis: Yeah, absolutely. Especially in your field. I mean you’re, you are defined by your knowledge. You, you promote or get fired on the basis of what you know. The basis of your continually advancing knowledge.
Audience: Yeah, I know it’s something that’s really elusive too because it’s changing rapidly.
Travis: Changing all the time. Right. Bruce.
Audience: I just think of Psalm 40:16. “Be still and know that I’m God.” Yeah. Yeah.
Travis: Well, I’m about to read Psalm, you know, another Psalm, Psalm. This is David Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” There’s a sense of, just, just, there’s a sense of reverence and awe that comes, comes, over us when we contemplate, reflect on the transcendent, resplendent, holiness of God. And I just want to say this is a sense that has been missing in many Protestant churches for a long, long time. Okay? And that’s what we really need to recover right here. We got a chance to do this. Yeah. Chuck.
Audience: Fear the Lord.
Travis: Yeah, the fear of the Lord. Right. Exactly. Nick.
Audience: Also, just excitement that our learning never has to run out. There’s always more to discover. I love that about studying the Bible.
Travis: And the knowledge of God. Right knowledge of God, builds on itself. So, when you have a good fun, fundamental platform, you can build on that and continue to understand and know even more, to reflect even more, to expand more and more. And yet you never come to the end of it.
Audience: Was it Paul who said, “Oh, the depths of riches and”.
Travis: Yea. Romans 11, right? “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom of God. Unsearchable are his judgments.” Your gonna say something?
Audience: I was just gonna say it sets us apart, like maybe from other religions that they can kind of grasp. Like, I was think my uncle, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they kind of decide, like they changed Scripture or read only certain Scriptures that make it so that God can, they can understand. Part of God; being of God, right?
Travis: They scoff at this fundamental incomprehensibility of God. Why? Because of their pride. It’s their pride that wants to put God inside their finite minds, so that they can, they can understand him fully and then make fun of those who don’t. That’s, that’s, what I’ve encountered through Jehovah’s Witnesses over and over. Josh.
Audience: I think it, ex, excites you more for eternity because there’s a, you know, there’s, there’s, this cultural perception of, of, heaven is a place where you just go and sing and play harps or whatever. And like, okay, but for eternity, that’s not going to be exciting. But knowing that, especially in this life, as a Christian, the best times in my life are when I’m reading the Bible and I find discover something new and I get goosebumps and that’s like, that’s, God is incomprehensible. So for all eternity there’ll be that moment upon that moment upon just building forever. And then that. And you’ll never run out. And you’ll never run out of things to keep learning about God, yeah. (indeterminate)
Travis: What’d you say? Any anything in our, anything in our life and the world that we enjoy and appreciate and look at and wonder. Who’s the source of all that? God is the source of all of that. All creativity, all knowledge, all wisdom, all beauty, he’s the source of it all. And we are we, we, bypass any other mediator to go through Jesus Christ, who is God himself. We’re, we’re synced, knowing God himself, being partakers of the divine nature. It’s awesome.
This is an awesome thought that, yeah forever, for all eternity. It’s like the most thrilling depth of study and understanding that you can never have from his word and throughout all of eternity, no sin, no tiredness, no fatigue, no, no, distraction, no, no, no cell phones, buzzing, texting, nothing like going to get in the way. We’re going to leave our iPhones here on Earth when we go to heaven. Isn’t that gonna be awesome.
Audience: Praise God!
Travis: Sorry, Steve Jobs. So, so I just, I just wanted to comment, as we think about just this, this sense of reverence and awe that comes from contemplating the incomprehensibility and yet the knowability of God. That there’s a, there’s a, thrilling aspect of this to our souls. As David said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful; it is high; I cannot attain it.” And yet what does David continue to do? He continues to pen psalms that just, just, explore that magnificence and the resplendent, resplendent glory of God, the holiness of God.
He’s just, he can’t stop talking about it. Writing about it and, and, using, using, studied, poetic, beautiful words. The Psalms are filled with that. This, this is what I think you know, at least in the, in the kind of evangelical church I grew up in. This was lost. That this was not, this sense of reverence and awe was not there. It was, it was let’s see how low we can bring God and make him really, really familiar to you.
It’s kind of like, you know, our evangelical counterpart to the Jehovah witnesses. Jehovah witnesses want to make God more familiar by making him more comprehensible to them. We did the same thing with feelings, you know. We want to make him feel closer to us and must have him to feel; you know, God is just weeping over you. He just, he longs for you so much. He just is weeping to know you. And all that, like, crying, weepy kind of stuff I grew up with in evangelical youth groups.
That’s the way that they try to get kids to make decisions for Jesus is to make them feel really, really guilty. Well, first you take them off to a retreat in the mountains and you don’t let them sleep. You know, some for the, for the whole time you don’t sleep and then you’re really susceptible to all kinds of influences. You know I got saved several times, up and coming back from camp, and got baptized and all that. But you’re, you’re, you feel really bad for your sins and then you feel really, you know, when you realize you how badly you’ve hurt God, then you, then you come to him.
But you know, we have, we have made God so non-glorious, I think, in our time by trying to make him so human, and that’s, that’s, not him. And I think perhaps that’s why people returning in very, very large numbers to the Roman, and I’m talking about evangelical people, are returning to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant denominations are losing people, by, in droves, and they’re returning to the Roman Catholic Church or turning to Eastern Orthodoxy.
Both those traditions, you have to understand, have departed from the gospel in varying degrees. I realize that there can be saved Roman Catholics. There could be saved Easter, Eastern Orthodox. But it’s not because of the teachings of those communions. It’s in spite of the teachings of those communions.
But those, those two, Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodoxy, they are appealing to many, many unanchored, unmoored evangelicals. And the latest departure, I don’t know if you heard of this, is Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible answer man. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. I used to listen to him back in the 90s because he was on the radio, but he’s, he recently followed his wife into the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Is an article on, on, Christian news service, excuse me, written by Heather Clark. It’s April 11th, shows Hank Hanegraaffe here. His wife is to his left and his sons are to his right there, and he’s bowing to be brought into, he’s being chrismated into the Eastern Orthodox Church. “But Hank Hanegraaffe, also known as the Bible Answer Man, was chrismated into the Orthodox Church on Sunday. The well-known radio host and the author is confirmed.” He received, “he was received.” Blah blah blah, “wife and two children, prompting questions, online chatter.”
He says, “I am now a member.” this is Hank Hanegraaffe speaking, “I’m now a member of an Orthodox Church, but nothing has changed in my faith. Hanegraaffe said, I’ve been attending an Orthodox Church for a long time, over, for over 2 years really as a result of what happened when I went to China many years ago. He said that in witnessing the simplicity and passion of Chinese Christians, he was led to study Watchmen Nee and Theosis, a teaching of the Eastern Orthodox regarding union with God.
“They felt drawn to the days of the early church. He says, I saw Christian, Chinese Christians who were deeply in love with the Lord, and I learned that while may, they may not have had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did.” That’s American statement. Because I have met some of those Chinese Christians and they have just as much intellectual acumen and knowledge as Hanegraaffe, but, he says, “even though they may have not had as much intellectual acumen or knowledge as I did. He said, They have life.”
They have life, Hanegraaffe explained. “I was comparing my ability to communicate truth with their deep and abiding love of the Lord Jesus Christ. One man said to me, ‘truth matters, but life matters more.’ In other words, it is not just knowing about Jesus Christ, it is experiencing the resurrected Christ, he said. As a result of that I started studying what is, what was communicated by the progeny of Watchmen Nee with respect to Theosis and that drove me back to the early Christian Church.
“Hanegraaffe says that since then he’s been quote, ‘been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Eucharist or the Lord’s table.’”
And I’ll, I’ll, stop. Stop reading there. He’s, he’s, setting up at odds with each other; knowledge and experience. He’s trying to say and, and, I understand, again, looking at, around the evangelicalism, there can be those knowledge churches where it’s like dry chalk, you know, you study, study, study, you just compile a bunch of facts, and there’s just no life in it.
And then there can be those experienced churches, we call them a lot of times, charismatic churches. And the charismatic form of worship has come into Baptist churches and Evangelical churches because they’re tired of the dryness and they want to go to something ‘feeling oriented’ that drives their passions and their feelings. They’re setting, they’re setting, them at odds of one another, and I am saying that the true study and the knowledge of God brings all that together.
It does start with the mind, but it must transfer into the emotions, the feeling, the life, the sentiment, the affections, and so, Jonathan Edwards called it. Joe?
Audience: I was just curious your thoughts on his statement. Truth matters, but life matters more.
Travis: I’d say those are brought together in Jesus Christ, so they’re not set at odds with one another. We see the two of them in Christ. And what he’s trying to do is he’s trying to go back to something. You see him here bowing down and he’s got, there are guys standing over him. They got candles, these guys got robes. There’s, you know, they, as they say, you know, often disparagingly, but they say they’re, they’ve got the smells and the bells, right?
And so they, there’s a sense that what they’re trying to recover and capture in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Communion; they’re trying to capture a sense of the transcendent. A sense of the holiness of God. The majesty of God. That’s why those churches are so ornate, because they want to capture the imagination, so that our eyes are, are, sent upward.
And I like that actually, of, of, that communion, I, that part of it. The fact is, though, that they lack the gospel. So, so it’s trying to promote the sense of and, and, it does have a sense of antiquity, as well, that there’s a historical connectedness in the East Orthodox and the Roman Catholic communions.
There is that big split; the sentiment, you know, East and West, but still, there is a sense of connectedness historically, whereas we are like the ‘Johnny come lately’ on the block, just like America, very, you know, very, very new to the world scene. That’s the way evangelicalism is too. And, and, you go back to the Protestant Reformation, that’s what both of these communions condemn, the Protestant Reformation for is splintering churches. You know, splintering and fracturing the Christian. Christendom is what you could say.
So there, there, are a lot of people, I think, who, they’re exhausted, really. I’m talking about evangelical people. They’re exhausted by the performance routines, you could say, of the seeker friendly and the market driven churches. They’ve become hollowed out, I think, by the distraction of some insipid man centered therapeutic preaching. They have no sense of God’s transcendence, God’s holiness, God’s greatness, their own comparative sinfulness and smallness.
They don’t have a sense that David has of “what is man, that you’re mindful of me.” No, they, they have a sense of pride. Me and God are buddies. And I even was taught, you know, in my youth group growing up, you know, to, to, call God, ‘buddy’, ‘dude’ to, you know, just, just, just, snuggle up to him and call him Daddy.
You know, I understand there’s a ‘Abba Father’ aspect to this, but let’s not start there. Let’s start with understanding how great he is. And then in light of how great he is, the fact that we can call him Abba Father, becomes then rich and meaningful. But if you start with, hey, he’s just familiar to you, like curling up with your grandpa, you know, no, no, that’s not where you start. You have to start with his highness and our smallness.
So, people, I think, long for a sense of transcendence. They long for a sense of historical rootedness. And even though, as I said, the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, are very unclear on the gospel at best, very unclear at best, probably most commonly they’re in error and therefore heretical, because gospel issues are fundamental, essential issues. People are increasingly tired, I think, of the schlocky kind of evangelicalism of the past thirty, forty, fifty, years.
So with that in mind, with Hank Hanegraaff’s change in his theology and mind; What are the shepherding implications and or applications of the doctrines of divine incomprehensibility on the one hand, and his knowability on the other hand? What are the demands on us as men, and on our church as a whole? Of those two doctrines. You guys following my question? Is it too difficult? Okay. Yeah, Bruce.
Audience: Even, I’m thinking like the comments that Doug made. And we do live in this world where we’re trying to define everything. We’re trying to put structure around everything, you know, and you know, it’s got to be this comprehensive statement that, you know, defines everything Okay. And verses, you know, I would keep going back to Psalm 46:10, it says, “Be still and know I am God.” And I know, for myself, many times when I find my mind just going all over the place, I realize that, I’m not doing that. That I need to, you know, get on my knees really, confess sin and realize what has filtered in from the world’s presence around you. That has, that I’ve lost sight of that. That awesome, that fear that we talked about of who God is. And I, I think that’s when we began to think in terms of, as shepherds, we must teach that.
Travis: Yeah. Amen. Amen. I do the same thing. My mind, my mind, you know, can become so filled with the ‘to-do’ lists or the people or the distractions or the, you know, whatever. Just all, all, the kind of responsibilities we face all the time. And sometimes you just have to stop and quiet yourself and sit down, confess sin, and then remember who God is again. And read his Word, understand him and just pray. Yea, that’s good.
Audience: I’m just thinking of what Peter said about Christ. You know, “Cast all your cares on him for he cares for you.” And that’s kind of, you know, even though God is transcended, he’s incomprehensible and all that, but he is, he’s also in Christ. You know, somebody who is very personal.
Travis: Yeah, that’s right. We and, and, we’re gonna find out why, as we go through this study of, of, God’s nature and his attributes. We’re going to find out why it makes so much sense to cast all our cares on him. I mean, why wouldn’t you? After we understand all this, we understand ourselves in comparison or contrast, we could say. We’re going to find out why holding on to all of our cares is ludicrous. God can hold all those things because he’s God. We’re going to find out the attributes that make sense of that. Was there another hand over here? I saw some movement, no, and it must have been wrong.
Audience: It’s interesting, in this modern world, where we we’re faced with all kinds of metaphysical things that are going on, like either depression or anxieties and, and, all those things. But when you start thinking in terms of the holiness of God, and you, and they begin to understand the holiness of God. A lot of that, through his word, takes all of that and, and, makes it go away, because now they understand the power of God and understand what God is doing. It, it takes some of the anxiety and the depression and it just literally makes it go away.
Travis: Exactly right. We, there is, there is a desire and we hear this, we talk, we, we, talked about it in terms of moral therapeutic deism. That’s the, that’s the religion of modern America. Moral, therapeutic, therapeutic deism, that therapeutic portion. It’s not to say that God is an immoral or that there isn’t some therapeutic benefit to knowing God. Definitely not a deist.
We can’t affirm anything about that concept of God. But this, this aspect of God we talked about, a seeker church talks about in terms of felt needs. You know, we gotta tend to people’s felt needs. I don’t deny felt needs. I, I, say that they’re there. People come into the church and they have feelings of a need. The problem is, they don’t always know what they need.
That sense of depression or anxiety, worry, stress, whatever they’re, however they’re describing it. It’s often, it is because they don’t know God. They don’t know. And even Christians who feel that sense of anxiety, they don’t know God as they should know God. So maybe they’re saved. Maybe they’ve been born again, but they’ve become distracted in their minds again to be overcome with fears and worries and anxieties. And if we, if we recalibrate and go back to who God is, you’re right, all that dissipates. All goes away. Think it was Tozer, we read a couple weeks ago, who just said, “a thousand cares, just go away.” Right? We know about God when we know him.
So. What are the implications for us? How do we apply these doctrines of incomprehensibility, knowability? And we, it demands that we as men, we as a church, that we study about him. That we think. That we, we, we, do the mental work to think and then obey what we learn and understand. We have to live reverently before the God whose truth that we have worked very diligently to apprehend.
It says in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” Why is that? Is it for the sake of maybe, Paul’s telling Timothy: Hey, you got to be the most intelligent, doctrinally sound, everything guy on the block. No. So he can wear that doctrine badge? No. So that he can know his God and he can then communicate to all the people in the church, ‘behold your God’, and they can understand him.
And so, we want to handle accurately the word of truth, so that we can help people understand God accurately. Because the accurate knowledge of God is life. It’s life. So, we need to live before God in loving obedience, devoted worship, and also take up the mantle of responsibility that we have as men, to teach others around us. To bring the truth to them. To exhort them to know their God, and also to think about the generations coming after us. I think of people distracted, involved in so many things that do not matter.
What matters? The generations of this church coming after us, out, well, after we’re dead and gone. We need to pass on a legacy of understanding of God to them. Okay, so without further ado, let’s get into, with time we have left, the attributes of God. And, and, again, we’re just going to introduce some of this and get into more of it next time.
This is theology proper. We’re gonna talk about the attributes of God’s being, and I’ve got, hopefully, I can get to three outline points this morning. Number one is the introduction to the attributes of God’s being. Then organizing the attributes of God’s being. Then listing the attributes of God’s being. And if we have time, probably won’t, but the foundation of the attributes of God’s being. Okay? No, you’re shaking your head. No way.
Audience: Ain’t gonna happen.
Travis: Ain’t gonna happen.
Audience: You introduced them. Write down your listed goals. You introduce them. Everything else is just gravy.
Travis: That’s right. So let, let’s start here with the introduction; introduction of the attributes of God’s being. In the Bible we discover the attributes of God, and so the first question we want to ask is what’s an attribute? What is an attribute? You guys know?
Travis: Okay. Characteristic.
Audience: Descriptive characteristic.
Travis: Descriptive characteristic.
Audience: More of a defining characteristic. Something that’s essential to.
Travis: Okay. So let’s, let’s, let’s talk about a difference between an attribute and an accident. Okay, not, not, not an accident. It’s not an accident like I wrecked my car, but it’s an accident. Something that’s attributable to me, that is characterizing and yet not essential to my being. So big nose. And big nose is that if I take off that big nose or replace it with a small nose; does that or just take away my nose, does that make me not human?
Travis: That’s not an attribute. That’s an accident of my, of my being, of my, of my, who I am. What is an attribute of human being?
Audience: In Sin
Travis: No, no, actually it’s not. Look at Jesus Christ. He’d no sin; fully human. In fact, he is the quintessential human. Right?
Audience: Moral consciousness.
Travis: Okay, good moral consciousness. You take that away. No longer human. What else?
Audience: Created by God?
Travis: Okay, that’s, that’s, our origin, but it’s not, not, I mean it is; everything is created by God. So we’re all in that. Everything that exists except God is in that category.
Audience: You do you wanna say, image of God.
Travis: Image of God. Take that away. What are we?
Audience: Animal. Animal. Right. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s about it. What about..
Travis: Cro-Magnon man, that’s what we (talk over)
Audience: Yeah, well I, I, was getting to in, intelligent in some way. So we we’re able to, self-aware.
Travis: Good. Okay. Self-awareness, intelligence. Those are aspects of the image of God in us, but, and moral consciousness. Same thing. You take intelligence away or a sense of self-awareness; no longer human. Okay, what about body?
Audience: Yeah, well, you know, no arms, no legs, things like that, you’re still human.
Travis: Right. Right.
Audience: But, no little finger doesn’t bother me.
Travis: Doesn’t bother you. Yeah. So, but that is an accident. It’s an extension of your human body.
Audience: It is. It is me now. But it’s not, does not make me human.
Travis: Right. Take that away, your no less human.
Audience: Yeah, the nose is me now, but it doesn’t make me human.
Travis: But you take away that body. Floating body. Floating experiment. That’s not a human. Spirit, created spirit is what, an Angel. Right? But you take away, I mean, I’m not saying that Angels are just human spirits without bodies; that’s not what I’m saying. Okay, different from us. But, but, having a material part of us, even if I’m, you know, no arms, no legs, you cut off my head, now no longer is there life, right? So, it’s something life, living.. What’s that?
Audience: Life would be another thing. We’re alive.
Travis: We’re alive.
Audience: You know, the Breath of God is in us.
Travis: That’s right. That’s right. Take away the life.
Audience: You’re not human anymore.
Travis: Okay, good. So that’s just an introduction to distinguishing between accidents and attributes. An attribute is something that belongs to a person or thing; without which that person or thing would cease to be that person or thing. Okay? So, we might say an attribute is essential to that person. Attributes of God, then, and this is Bancroft on pages 44, ah 45 and 46, he says, “Attributes are, are, those essential, permanent and distinguishing characteristics which may be affirmed of God’s being.”
And I like what he says here, “His attributes are his perfections, inseparable from his nature and conditioning his character.” When he says conditioning, he’s not talking about like hair conditioning, like making it better. He’s talking about the conditions of, okay, his character. So, attributes, think of them in terms of perfections, but they are essential perfections. You take away that and it’s no longer God. Okay?
The second question then, if we’re talking about the attributes of his being; what is being? What do we mean by being? Let me just jump, cut to the chase here, okay, because we could, we could float around on this.
By, by, being, we’re talking about the fundamental nature of God’s existence. Okay. The word ‘being’ is the word ousia in Greek. Which is basically synonymous to the word essence, which is Latin, essentia or substance, which is the Latin substantia. So here, listen, this is a Charles Hodge. I appreciate Hodges’ clarity on some, some, matters. This is page 367, Charles Hodge, volume one. This is what he says, “By being is here meant that which has a real, substantive existence. It is equivalent to substance, or essence. It is opposed to what is merely thought, or to a mere force or power. We get this idea, in the first place from consciousness.” That’s what you were talking about, self-awareness.
“We’re conscious of the self as the subject of the thoughts, feelings, and volitions, which are its varying states and acts. The consciousness of substance is involved in that of personal identity. In the second place, a law of our reason constrains us to believe that there is something which underlies the phenomena of matter in mind, of which those phenomena are the manifestation. It is impossible for us to think of thought and feeling, unless there be something that thinks and feels. It’s no less impossible to think of action, unless there be something that acts; or of motion, unless there be something that moves. To assume, therefore, that mind is only a series of acts and states, that matter is nothing but force, is to assume that nothing (nonentity) can produce effects.”
“God, therefore is in his nature a substance, or essence, which is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable; the common subject of all divine perfections, and the common agent of all divine acts. This is as far as we can go, or need to go.” Thank you, Charles Hodge. But I’m like, he keeps writing though so.
Audience: Yeah, that’s just his (not able to determine) one there.
Travis: “We have no, we have no definite idea of substance, whether of matter or mind, as distinct from its attributes. The two are inseparable.” And again, I appreciate Hodge acknowledging that and so, for such, from such a mind as Hodge to say, you know, when I, and when I can’t get a grasp on substance except in terms of describing attributes, he says that’s right. You know, it’s, it’s, nice to know that, that, I’m not out on a limb here.
“In knowing the one we know the other. We cannot know hardness except as we know something hard. We have, therefore, the same knowledge of the essence of God, as we have of the substance of the soul. All we have to do in reference to the divine essence, as a Spirit, is to deny of it, as we do our own spiritual essence, what belongs to material substances; and to affirm of it, that in itself and its attributes it is infinite, eternal and unchangeable.”
So, he’s saying, look, we, we, can have a sense of our own immaterial self. So, if we take away our material attributes and just focus on our immaterial attributes, that’s what we’re saying about God, except that he is infinite; we’re finite. He is eternal, we’re not. He is unchangeable; we are by definition changeable. We’re always changing, right? Even from that, before I said that sentence, till after I said this sentence, you all changed.
“When, therefore, we say that there is a God, we do not assert merely that there is in our minds the idea of an infinite spirit; but that, entirely independent of our idea of Him, such a Being really exists. As Augustine says, ‘Deus est quaedam substantia; nam quod.’” No, I’m just kidding. That’s what he says. And I have no idea, because I don’t read Latin.
Audience: He’s right on. Can you, can you condense that line of reasoning from our finite attributes to; so he’s reasoning from our finite attributes to the, to the, to the, to the existence of God’s, in, infinitude.
Travis: He’s saying, he’s saying that look it’s almost like the, the, we are an effect not the cause. So he’s almost, he’s almost reasoning from effect, back to cause, back to first cause saying; what gives rise to me having a knowledge of myself, a self, self-awareness, self-consciousness. What can explain that?
So, if I take away my material attribute of a body and just talk about this sense of awareness, self-awareness, this sense of consciousness, this intellect; what can then I infer about my car, about what caused me. Going back to the first cause, there’s a, there’s a, there is a spirit, but one that is infinite, immortal, eternal, unchangeable, as opposed to me. That’s what gives rise to all this. Chuck.
Audience: Again, just kind of wrap, trying to wrap my head around what Nick was saying. We, it’s not like we, God exists because we think of him. We think of him because God exists.
Travis: You got it. Okay. That’s and, that’s what he just said there. Yep.
Audience: So, it’s kind of like he’s going from he, he was talking about, you know, we have the concept of hardness because there’s something hard. And then he is saying, we have the concept, similarly, we have the concept of these traits in ourselves, this, these, these immaterial traits because there’s a cause of those immaterial traits that’s greater than us.
Travis: That’s right. That’s similar to the ontological argument for the existence of God. Yeah.
Audience: This, this is really interesting. Because in my philosophy class, one of the things that they were talking about with when they were talking about the brain and the mind, they’re saying really is there a mind outside the brain. And one of the things that one of the arguments that I thought was really interesting is they, they compared the mind to a handshake. A handshake is made-up of a bunch of little actions that we call a handshake, but the handshake itself doesn’t exactly exist. It’s all the actions that we call the handshake. So, he was saying similarly there’s a bunch of little actions in your brain that make up the mind, what we call the mind, but it’s just a bunch of physical acts, things going on in the brain.
Travis: And if that’s true, that is the basis of all anarchy and immorality.
Audience: And that, and that thinking People don’t know that thinking fully. They can’t articulate it. But that is exactly what drives our culture.
Travis: That is exactly what drives our culture. We are becoming like brood beasts just, just, foraging through the, the, world looking for what satisfies the flesh; what makes us happy; what makes us feel good; filling our bellies; satisfying our appetites. And if that is truly what we are, then their law. What is law? Law is like a handshake. You know, my treatment of you, ethics, morality, it’s like a handshake. It’s just, it’s just.
Audience: I can get whatever I can get away with, I’ll get away with it. There’s no point to it.
Travis: Exactly. It’s just that, a group of you has somehow come together, and in your, your mental handshake, you’ve created these laws. And I, I, say no, I’m not going to abide by those. Who are you to tell me that’s wrong? Who are you to put me in jail? I’ll grab a bunch of my friends, we’ll shoot you, you know, and we’ll make laws. It’s just complete anarchy and, and, nobody lives that way. It’s a denial of how we actually live and how we actually think. It’s just, it’s just a denial of truth. It’s just a denial of what actually is. What is reality. But it sounds so.
Audience: Philosophical. We’re still in a cesspool
Travis: Yep. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s why they put locks on their doors.
Audience: I love it that the Bible does not, it does very little, I mean, if any philosophizing. It doesn’t actually, like, try to do this handshake, you know, junk with all the, it, it just states things as they are. It states facts and then it teaches the implications of the facts. And if you study and understand the facts, you can get to the depth of philosophy through those things. But if you just stick to the truth and don’t go beyond what’s written, you have a, a, sound foundation that really undoes all the philosophy of the world, you know.
Travis: When they say, yeah, that’s right. When they and when they say the, the, mind, it’s just like a handshake. You know what they’re doing. That’s an untested, unproven assertion.
Audience: Right. Yeah. They do say about that. Yeah. Who says that?
Travis: I mean, what, why? Why do you get away with that? Why do you get away with that? You need to prove that. You need to prove that statement. I don’t accept that as true. So why should they get away with that?
Audience: And then, and then they, and then they do exactly what they, what he says they do. They’ll say, and ultimately the professor will say, it’s true because if you don’t believe it, you don’t get an A. That’s exactly, that’s true, isn’t it? True, he has the authority. He has the authority.
Travis: And that’s just going back to might makes right.
Audience: Right. Exactly. You will learn and, and, use that against him too. Yeah. I mean it’s really interesting.
Travis: Might, might makes right, which is, which is just basically admitting your argument has no substance.
Travis: It has no weight.
Audience: That, that totally is. As soon as he says that, that capitulates his argument.
Travis: You got it. He’s just, he’s lost and he doesn’t even know it.
Audience: I reading, I just finished reading Francis Schaeffer’s, How Shall We Then Live, and highly recommend that book for everybody. And, and, he has a had a TV series, a series on that too. And I’m just kind of, what I’m about halfway through that, and his point is, I mean it’s, it’s a nice overview of Western philosophy and from the Greeks on, and Romans on, I think.
But it just occurs to me, don’t know if it’s true or not, but so much of philosophy is, is, just let’s think a lot about this, we’re not doing anything about it, right, but it’s just, you know I mean, it’s, I’m not saying it’s unhealthy, but, f, Schafer’s point is, How Shall We Then Live, our philosophy. And it’s, we’re going to live our philosophy whether we want to or not and that’s and you know he gets this 2000-year span of time and covers all that. What are the implications that, philosophy that we are taught.
Travis: That’s such an important word, the word implication. So, based on what you’ve just said, what does that imply? If we, if we follow what you just said, and take it to its logical conclusion and how it’s actually worked out; Does it show your, what is, what is the fruit of your philosophy? Is it chaos or is it order? Is it beneficial for human thriving? Or is it fundamentally at odds with, and destructive of humans’ rights? And that’s what, that’s what you could see in so much of philosophy. Oh, okay, you just have like six minutes left. I’m sure I could get through all of this.
Audience: We’re done. Let’s go.
Travis: I’m not going to get through it. So the, the, as you listened earlier, I read from the Athanasian Creed and, and, which is affirming the Tri Personality of God and all at the same time it’s, it’s, careful not to divide the substance of God. So, the person, the personality of God is an attribute. But it wants to make sure, the Athanasian Creed, wants to make sure we don’t divide the substance of God, the essential being of God. The three persons share the same essential being.
Yeah, let me, let me just read this. I’ll try to finish up this point here. This is our London Baptist confession that lists, lists, attributes of God. This is from chapter two, just two sections in chapter two of God and the Holy Trinity. Section one says, “The Lord our God is the one only living and true God.” I’m just going to stop there to say that where I wanted to end today, okay, is on the fact that we, the foundation of the attributes of God’s being, is in the fact that God is living.
Living God; that’s where all this starts. And he is, our God is a living God. He’s the origin and source of life and light. Number of passages we could have read, had we had more time, but the Lord didn’t want us to do that today. So, we will do it next time. But, but that’s where, that’s where interesting, interestingly, the London Baptist Confession starts too. “The Lord our God is but one only, living and true God. Whose subsistence is in and of himself. Infinite in being in perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself.
“A most pure spirit, indivisible, without body parts or passions. Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light in which no man can approach.” Unto, “Who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute. Working all things according to the Council of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness and truth; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him; and with all, most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.” That last part, where to get that from? Exodus 34, right? Yeah.
Second section. “God having all life, glory, blessedness.” Again, going back to the glory of the, the, the, life of God, the fact that he is a living God. “So God having all life, glory, goodness, and blessedness, in and of himself, is alone and unto himself all sufficient, not standing in need of any creature which he hath made, nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting his own glory in, by, unto, and upon them.
“He is alone. He is the alone fountain of all being.” There it is the origin of all life, all being. “He is the alone fountain of all being, of Whom, through Whom, and to Whom were all things;” [Chuck, Romans 11] “and He hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them for them, and upon them, whatsoever He himself pleaseth; in his sight all things are open and manifest. His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature, so as nothing is to him contingent or uncertain.”
You ever heard of, you know, trying to reconcile, sa, God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. We talk about, you know, they, they come up with the idea of contingent knowledge that God knows all possible, possible, facts and all possible implications of all facts and so that’s called contingent knowledge. So, nothing in God is a plan B, a plan C, everything is just what he wills.” Okay?
“There’s no contingencies. Nothing is to him contingent or uncertain. “He is most holy in all his counsels, in all his works, and in all his commands. To him is due from angels and men, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures they owe unto the creator and whatever he is further pleased to require of them.” Those are just two sections of that confession of faith.
But you notice and as we’re going to go through this, the next few weeks, we’re going to see how intentional that language is, and yet I think so beautifully written to evoke our worship and praise of our God. It’s just absolutely, ah, joy producing. Joy inducing.
Hodge says this, he says, “to the divine essence, which in itself is infinite, eternal and unchangeable. Belong certain perfections revealed to us in the constitution of our nature and in the word of God.” So that’s just to, just to let you know, that’s why we know, Jack and Nick, what you guys were saying that we’re not just talking about an, an, a sense of God and that’s what we’re depending on. It’s corroborated and explained by the objective revelation of God.
So we have a sense of God that has to have a source and a cause greater than ourselves. And then when we look in scripture, we see that confirmed, and explained, and elaborated upon, unpacked. “So certain perfections of God revealed to us in the constitution of our nature and in the word of God. These divine perfections are called attributes, as essential to the nature of divine being and necessarily involved in our idea of God.” Okay, with that Chuck has a question.
Audience: Just; introducing the attributes of God’s being, organizing the attributes of God’s being; What were the other two?
Travis: Say that again.
Audience: OK. The four.
Travis: Oh, four points over again.
Audience: So we’re going to go over them, but I just want to list them for my own purposes here.
Travis: So, the, so the, the, statement is the attributes of God, God’s being. So, the introduction to the attributes of God being, then organizing the attributes of God being, listing the attributes of God’s being, and the foundation of the attributes of God being. And, you know, we’re going to unpack these in weeks to come. Okay?
Let’s, let’s pray. Father, we’re once again grateful to, to, explore the truth about you. We’re so thankful, too, for, in, intellects of the past, who help us to, to, apprehend truth about you. Who we can see that our, our, own struggles and understanding, our questions, they’ve all been asked before. And they’ve also been grappled with and, and, answered.
And there, there are some wonderful things for us to study and learn from those who wrote the Athanasian Creed, the Augustine, from those who crafted the London Baptist Confession of Faith, from those who are, from men like Charles Hodge and, and, other scholars; and even Emery Bancroft and the texts we’re using.
We’re so grateful for the truth of your word and how they help us by systematizing these doctrines and putting them down into a teachable form. We’re so grateful to get a grasp on apprehending the knowledge of you.
We thank you that you have condescended to, to, show yourself to us, just as the pillar of cloud came down to the tent of meeting and you spoke to Moses says, “with a friend face to face.” So even now in Jesus Christ, you speak to us as a friend. We have been brought into the knowledge and glory greater than that that Moses can understand, and he just anticipated it. And we have that knowledge in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Thank you for revealing yourself in your Word. Thank you for the understanding that we can attain the knowledge we can attain. We just pray that it would drive us to worship, humility, reverence, and awe. We bow before you and obey you and then teach others about you. Be concerned about the people around us that they know you. Be concerned about the generations to come. We pray that you’d help us to be not just theologians, but shepherds in our hearts. In Jesus name. Amen.