10:30 am Sunday Worship
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The Attributes of God’s Goodness: Introduction, Part 1

Heavenly Father, thank you for the time we have getting kicked off this spring with STM. We thank you for bringing us together as men. We thank you for what you’re doing in the men of this church. And we thank you for the young men that are here today. And we’re just so grateful to see their young, eager faces and interest in theology. And just ask that you would teach and instruct all of us, from the youngest to the oldest. Help us to see you in all your glory and greatness and goodness.

Thank you for the food you’ve provided for us and for Gary, for putting this breakfast together, and the other Gary for making the coffee. We thank you for, for, feeding us and taking care of those needs. We thank you, also, for the truth that we’re about to cover in Jesus’ name. Amen.

All right. So at any time you want seconds, I think there’s more, so you guys can have, have, and keep consuming. I’m guessing you have seen the dates for, let me make sure, actually this is, Yep; we’re good. You’ve seen the dates for upcoming meetings. You can see that to we’ve kind of scaled back to basically two a month for the spring. We just want to make sure we’re not wearing ourselves out and make sure you have time to do the honey do list at home and all the things that you’re required to do.

 As we, as we go through the spring here, I’m going to try to see if we can make use of the discussion format, we tried at the end of last year. We’re going to do that again today, break up in the groups, and we have you break up into three groups today. We just want to make sure we’re growing in, in, Christian friendships, as well. So that’s kind of the, the, reason for that.

 We have finished this last fall, really finished looking at the first major category of theology proper, the greatness of God. The first category is also, known as the, where you call it, the greatness of God. It’s also known as God’s absolute attributes or his incommunicable attributes. If, you know, we talked about those attributes as consisting in God as immortal spirit, as a triune person, as limitless creator. And we talked about a lot of attributes that were absolute in nature, incommunicable in nature, like God’s infinity, his eternality. Those things are not communicated to us.

 Okay. So we, we, went through all those absolute attributes. Now we’re going to get into the relative, of the communicable attributes. So I want to ask this question, thinking back about all that we’ve covered, and we have spent a good bit of time, but even with, with, what we covered in God’s absolute or incommunicable attributes, we could have spent a lot more time.

Okay, we got to spend, they’re, they’re whole courses covering that and you still, you still, seem, seem, like you only hit the top of the waves; just the, just get into the, it’s like the tip of the iceberg with all these attributes. But I want to ask the question: Looking back on God’s attributes of God’s greatness, incommunicable attributes and all that, what is the point? Why did we, why do we spend the time?

 Why do we spend so much time on the greatness of God, those absolute or incommunicable attributes of God? For instance, divine simplicity, which had a number of us scratching our heads about how do I comprehend this? Oh yeah, I can’t. Why do we, why do we want to scramble our brains like that? What’s the, so what? Yeah, Joe.

Audience: We, we, tend to anthropomorphicise that. I mean, make him more like us. So, by seeing how he really is, it gives us more of a vision of what, what, he’s like, so that we can actually worship him.

Travis: Okay. Good, good. So coming to the end of your, starting with the end of your statement, so we can worship him. That’s a huge. That’s huge. And, and, you don’t worship somebody who looks just like you. So anthropomorphic language, which, which, tries to bring God down and make him look a lot like, you know, kind of an older brother buddy. Yeah, that tends to diminish your heart of worship.

 But when God is recognized for who he really is in Scripture, he’s high and holy and great, and we can’t but help fall before him in worship. That’s a great comment. Thank you.

Audience: That’s protection against poor theology and poor hermeneutics.

Travis: Okay, elaborate on that. Why is it a protection against bad theology, bad hermeneutics?

Audience: So as we look more at the character of God, right, we, we, realize that we cannot interpret Scripture in a way that violates who God is or changes who God is. God is who he is. And if our, if our reading of Scripture, if our reading of a passage or, you know, looking at other people’s interpretation, what would cross those boundaries? We know that we’re probably looking at it in the wrong way.

Travis: Okay, good. So there’s a safeguard to our interpretation and understanding of who God, who God really is. We can’t, we can’t interpret passages in violation of, you know, say the Trinity or something like that. Good. Excellent. So, safeguard against bad theology, against bad interpretation. Yes.

Audience: This is going to, also, aid us when we begin to study Jesus Christ and begin to study the Holy Spirit. This is foundation, even though the Trinity is, is, there and God is one; if we don’t understand the thought, and understand God foundationally, we won’t understand Jesus Christ properly or the Holy Spirit, the rest of, the rest of the Godhead.

Travis: Okay, good. So, understanding, understanding who God is in theology proper, extends to the all the persons of the Trinity. And then, and then, helps us to not only recognize the persons of the Trinity, as being consubstantial, and coequal, and coeternal, and all that, with the Godhead, but it, also, helps us to, to, look at this mind blowing reality of the, of the, hypostatic union in Christ, in the incarnation. What incredible. That’s incredible. Yeah. Scottie, one last one.

Audience: So I think this has already been implied, but I think it’s also it, it, brings out our it, it, it, humbles us to know that God is the one who, like, you know it, in his creation and he’s holy. And it, it, all points to, like, everything about God that we’ve been learning. It, also, points to the gospel and stuff too.

Travis: Okay, great. Humbles us, brings us low before God. Creaturely pride before the Creator is, is, worthy of condemnation. And so, it does bring us back to the gospel, as well to say, wow, this God is absolutely holy. I am not. I need to be reconciled to him, otherwise I perish. That’s where the gospel is precious to us. Yeah, great.

 So it’s it really is vital to start with the, the, theology proper. It’s vital to start with, God as God, and that is a base for everything else we study in theology. But if you understand who God is and, and, you know, granted we don’t fully comprehend all that God is. Comprehension implies getting your mind around all of it, right? Apprehension. We can.

     Okay, so we can apprehend God, but to fully comprehend him, only God can fully comprehend God. If we could comprehend God, then God is contained within our little brains. Okay, that’s not our God. So I, I, heard worship mentioned. You know, I think Joe said that at the very beginning. We need to understand and, and, apprehend the greatness of God for the sake of worship, to generate our interests and appreciation, and then our awe and reverence of God, in the study of his truth.

 And you might say that this, this, issue of worship, if we’re to, if we’re to talk about one phrase that we are after, it’s to promote the fear of the Lord.

     Okay, the fear of the Lord. I had one professor, very knowledgeable, insightful man say that the theme of the entire Bible is the fear of the Lord, and I, I, have a hard time disagreeing with that. It’s true to promote the fear of the Lord, because the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, right? I think it’s, also, vital to apprehend the greatness of God for the sake of perspective.

 When we, when we, orient our lives and our thinking with God as the starting point of all things, with man in right relation and perspective, that is, we are not the center, we are not the beginning or the end; we become then the servant of God’s greater purposes and his glory. We see our lives in, in, proper perspective. It’s not about us, it’s about, it’s about him. And our lives are made meaningful and significant, in as much as, we serve his purposes and not our, not our own.

 And then, also, it’s vital to apprehend the greatness of God or his absolute attributes for the sake of instruction. We saw this at the very end of last, last, year, as we went through the, the, Doctrine of Creation and saw all the, the, ways that in, in, in, the creation of God, the wisdom of God. He set the preconditions. We keep calling it, the preconditions of intelligibility.

 He helped us to understand the ground or the foundation of all reality and all rationality. So with, when the greatness of God is the foundation of our thinking, we have the foundation for a distinctively Christian worldview, which is the only consistent, rational worldview. Okay.

 So we talked about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and all that. All that flows out of the pure Being, absolute Being of God. All right, so for the sake of reverence, perspective, instruction, we receive from studying the greatness of God; it really points to our purpose in putting the goodness of God, which is the next major category, you might say, the relative attributes of the commutative attributes of God.

 That sets a found, the greatness of God sets a foundation for the goodness of God, the extension of God’s person to us and his creatures. So just to remind you, in theology proper. We studied God as immortal. He is the life-giving spirit who is one. We talked about One, in terms of divine simplicity. Not comp, he’s not a complex of attributes. He’s simple. He’s unchanging.

 We considered God, there’s a lot more there, consider God as triune person. He’s impossible to comprehend, as far as, interrelation of those three persons, but triune person, who is nonetheless. We saw those; the invisible attributes of God, his eternal power, and divine nature. And those invisible attributes that burst forth in what God has made.

We talked about, that Divine Fiat, creation: ex nihilo creation. So now we’re transitioning into the second major section of theology proper; I’m calling: God’s goodness; since I think it’s called that in our book, as well. This refers to the communicable attributes of God. So just to make sure we’re all on the same page and have clarity about incommunicable and communicable. What do we mean by that?

Anybody want to help us with the distinction between what is, what is an incommunicable attribute of God? What is a communicable attribute? I see that hand, but you’ve been called on. Let’s see if there’s anybody else. Anybody else? Who? Some, some, some, guy who hasn’t spoken a lot. Who would like to make that distinction. David. See, this is what you do as a teacher. You just get used to uncomfortable silences. They’re your friend. Pressure on the group. Go ahead, David.

Audience: Communicable attributes are communicated to us. And so it’s like they’re attributes that we share with God, that God shared with us, I guess I should say.

Travis: Yeah. We share with God. Right. That’s a heretic in the making. That’s good. Yeah. So. So attributes versus ones that aren’t shared, you know, infinity is something that God possesses and God alone. That’s why it’s not communicated or transmitted or transferred to the creature. His infinity is his and his alone. His aseity, his self-sufficiency, those kinds of things are not true of us and never will be true of us.

 We will always be dependent on him. We will always require his, you know, we’ll rest in his infinity, his eternality. We don’t have that in and of ourselves, but things that are transmitted or transferred or communicated to us, those are communicable attributes. Okay? That’s what we’re talking about. So, if God’s simplicity, his triune nature is eternality, infinity, limitlessness, all those kind of things. If those are absolute and therefore incommunicable to us, non-transferable, we could, we might say, what communicable attributes can you name? What, what communicable or relative attributes just come to mind? As you know. Yeah, Joe.

Audience: Mercy.

Travis: Mercy. It’s a good one. Yeah. Okay. What else did you say?

Audience: Love.

Travis: Love. There you go.

Audience: Justice.

Travis: Justice. Chuck.

Audience: Holiness.

Travis: Holiness. Yes. Moses.

Audience: Power.

Travis: Power.

Audience: Right. Yes or no?

Travis: Yeah, I’m trying to think because that’s, that’s, something when you think of God’s power, you think of his limitless, like omnipotence, his, his, almightiness. And I think that I, you could say that there is a sense in which his power is, in a sense, communicated to us, and we are extension, but it’s all of our strength or power is derivative of his. Just not sure.

Audience: Jesus gave, he did miracles in front of people.

Travis:  He did.

 Audience: He gave his power.

Travis: Yeah. He showed power.

Audience: Well he sent out his apostles or disciples with power.

Travis: Power. That’s right. I’d never really put it in that category. But Okay. So, Moses just brought up something that we need to acknowledge here, like even holiness. There is a, there’s an aspect of God’s holiness that is intrinsic to himself, that is not intrinsic to us, and yet he draws us into his holiness. So there’s, there’s, sometimes a kind of like, when you look at, at, colors and you see…

 My wife and I were eating at a, at a, Japanese Sapporo restaurant. And in the restaurant, it’s got one of those chandelier things and the light comes out of it and the light, it’s changing slowly from blue to green or it’s green to blue and then to purple and then to red. You know, it’s just kind of changing as you’re sitting there eating. It’s kind of cool to look at. The conversation stalls out or whatever. You stare at the chandelier. Never happened with us.

 But, but, it’s kind of like that; these attributes kind of start flowing into one another and that’s why you can use the attributes either as a noun or an adjective. God is infinite in his love. It’s infinite love. It’s eternal love. It’s, it’s, you know, loving in his Holiness. You can, you can, you can, blend them together. So that brings that up. Thank you. What else? What other?

Audience: Logical.

Travis: Logical, logical. So, I would say that, that’s an attribute of like, you can say, truth or wisdom. Okay, so yeah. Any others?

Audience: Goodness.

Travis: Goodness. Yeah, that’s a good one.

Audience: Perfection.

Travis: Good one. Perfections. That is more of a, that’s my, you might say that, that’s a synonym for attribute. It’s one of God’s perfections. So, yeah. Grace, I don’t know if I heard anybody mention grace. It’s the name of our church. Get that one down.

Faithfulness. That’s, that’s another one. So these relative, communicable attributes of God rest on, you need to, need to, see that they rest on, or extend from the absolute and incommunicable. Okay.

 And I want to, I want to take a little time before we break up into groups, here, to try to make that point, that the relative, what we’re about to cover, rests on everything we’ve already covered. It would be no good to start, just jump in, talk about theology proper, and start talking about God’s grace. He’s so amazing in his grace. Without understanding his infinity, and eternality, and his self-sufficiency, and all the rest, we have to understand those things, as a ground for everything we’re now going to cover.

 And I want to make it clear, too, that we’re not talking about, even though I’ve said, that the one is a foundation for the other; I want to make it clear that I’m not talking about a hierarchy here. As if, you know, here’s the most important of God’s attributes and here are the other ones, in kind of pecking order. That is not true. God is all of his attributes.

 We almost said, that all of his attributes are equal to one another. Yes, it’s a mystery. Yes, we can’t comprehend, but we need to remember that there isn’t some kind of a, a, pecking order or hierarchy. You may have read in Bancroft, if you did some of the reading, there on page 90, he said, quote, “Holiness is the regulative attribute of God by which the exercise of all other attributes is governed and directed.” End quote.

 If you came across that, but aren’t all of God’s, excuse me, all of God’s attributes governed and directed by all of God’s other attributes? Absolutely they are. Does God ever act in holiness and yet apart from love? Never. Everything acts together in combination.

Audience: I would also say that what we define as holiness is the reflection of his combined attributes, right? Holiness is defined by God, not the other way around.

Travis: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely there. But you might say that his goodness, also, is a reflection of all of his attributes.

Audience: So it makes him good, you know.

Travis: Or his love. Everything, everything is a communication of all of his attributes, the reflection of all his attributes. So I just want to be careful. Sometimes we tend to say, you know, you can hear somebody say, well, what’s the most important attribute of God? Okay, which one do you want to tip? What do you want to do without? Which, you know, anything, doing without one, or even diminishing one of his attributes by one fraction, makes God a monster, not God. Okay?

So all of his attributes, all important. I just want to be careful that we don’t make a hierarchy, Okay? And yet we do. We do elevate some things, you know, in our minds, and this holiness is one of them. We can’t help, but think that way. I understand why he said what he said, but we just want to be careful.

 We don’t speak in terms of a hierarchy, as if God were a complex of attributes. We’re distinguishing here. All we’re doing is, by we’re, just trying to get our arms around God. Okay? That’s why we’re breaking them up into these categories of greatness and goodness, absolute and relative, incommunicable and communicable. We’re trying to get our arms around who he is. And, that’s, this is the way we have to do it, Okay? We have to fracture these things, so that we can study him and understand. Okay?

Let’s see. Okay, so here’s, here’s, what I want to say. He, his absolute Being, then, is the ground of his relative attributes. Those and, and, those relative attributes, the attributes of God’s goodness, can be communicated and are communicated to us, his creatures. And that was by design; when God created man and woman in his image.

 Okay, so we are the imagers of God. We are the ones who, who, show forth those communicable attributes of God to one another; to the, the, creation, to creatures, to angels, even to demons. But manifesting that image of God, we understand, was fatally compromised by Adam in the fall, and then fulfilled perfectly in Christ, in his life and resurrection.

And [is now, the,] the image of God is now going to be fulfilled in all who are in Christ by virtue of redemption. This is, this is, our high calling and purpose as redeemed men; redeemed men and women. So Ephesians 4:24 says, “We’ve put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” So, this is our, this is our, future right here, as we are growing into this true manifestation of God’s image, which we found in Jesus Christ. Which we find in Jesus Christ. Okay, anybody? Everybody with me? Yeah. Joe.

Audience: Just a quick, when you talk about the communicable ones, it, it, seemed like they were the, the, same as he mentioned, as the fruits of the Spirit. Are they the same, do you think? Or the communicable attributes are the same; they’re the fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness.

Travis: Yeah. I hadn’t, I, I, maybe hadn’t thought about that, in that connection. But yes, I, I, think you’re right.

Audience: I mean, isn’t that the ultimate way that they’re communicated to us is through the Holy Spirit being united with our spirit. And that’s where those values and attributes of God are actually communicated to us. It’s not just a thought, it’s something that’s united with who we are.

Travis: Yeah. No, truly.

Audience: Through the Holy Spirit.

Travis:  Yeah, I, I, would make the connection. I just haven’t really, kind of said, oh, fruit of the spirit. But yeah, definitely. Definitely, it is communicated by the Holy Spirit in, in, in and through the word. So yeah, as we, as our mind is renewed, as we are transformed into one level of glory to another, that is, that is, exactly right. Those are communicable attributes he’s talking about. They’re the fruit of the Spirit. So yes, Holy Spirit. Bartlett.

Audience: What came to my mind is there’s also those ones that are not by the Holy Spirit. So that man is not without excuse. We can see other men and we can see the image of God by just looking at a man who does not have the Holy Spirit. Those, those, communicable attributes are in that man. And it’s just like, you know, there man isn’t without excuse, right? Because there’s evidence of God all around him, even in his fellow man who’s lost.

Travis: Exactly right. But they are distorted, they are diminished, perverted, and they misfire. So even, even, some type of attribute of God’s, you know, communicable attribute in man, like, like, love or mercy. It’s done to a fault or righteousness and justice, which are not listed: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. You don’t hear justice, righteousness in that list.

 So I just don’t want to say that that is the sum total of all the attributes. But I want to say that justice and righteousness, you see those things in the fallen, fallen mankind, but imperfectly executed. And sometimes justice is a, pervert, oftentimes justice is a perverted justice, it’s not fully just. It’s, it’s, partial. It’s not impartial.

 So but, we do see it all in Jesus Christ and as we are made partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:34, somewhere in there, as we’re made partakers of divine nature. This is what’s coming out. And yes, by the Spirit. Okay, good.

We are going to, in a bit, get together in groups and talk about some of these attributes, [incommunicable], and incommunicable and communicable, absolute, relative in the, that we find in the names of God. And that’s what, that’s what, our little exercise is going to be, is looking at all this in the names of God.

You can see these attributes combined and joined together in the names of God. In the Old Testament especially, we find designations of, of, Being; that is God as the word Elohim, a plural of majesty, really. But we find Elohim, a designation of Being. And then you add an attribute to Elohim. So you see El, which is the shortened form of Elohim, El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Olam, El Roi; that those are all conjunct, you know, conjoined terms, one of them having one attribute and one having another. Okay.

 You see that Old Testament designations of name, where you see the divine name Yahweh and we, we, bring that into English saying Jehovah. You guys have, you guys know how Jehovah was formed. It’s not actually in the Bible, but it’s like, so you have the Tetragrammaton, which is a four-letter designation, YHWH, because there aren’t really vowels in Hebrew, but you’ve got those four letters, YHWH. And then you take the, there were, there were, Jews who were very concerned about never pronouncing the divine name Yahweh, lest they take God’s name in vain. Okay, so it’s a, it’s a, silly, but very serious to them, issue, that they never wanted to speak it.

 So whenever they would see YHWH written in the Hebrew Bible, they would instead say Adonai. And so, the vowels for Adonai got inserted into the consonants for Yahweh and it became Yehovah. Okay. So Adonai became Yehovah or Jehovah. We’ve, we’ve, taken that, that the ‘J’ was, it kind of comes from the Iota [the letter J] in, in, Greek. The Iesous (Ἰησοῦς), Jesus, the ‘I’ becomes a ‘J’ sound, 4 or 500 years ago or whatever it was. So, anyway, that’s where Jehovah comes from.

 But you hear that in the Old Testament with those, that conjoining of names, so like Jehovah Jireh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Sabboath, Lord of hosts, all that stuff. Jehovah Tsidkenu. So there are also designations of title like LORD. You have the Hebrew, Adonai, the Greek, kyrios or despotes, which means Lord, master, owner, like a relationship between a master and slave. And that’s actually, that’s seeing God in his sovereignty.

 But these, these, names of God and designations of his Being are in combination with other attributes. Usually, you find like an absolute attribute, which is what, that which is essential and foundational; Elohim, Yahweh, then combined with another attribute. Sometimes it’s in another absolute attribute like El Olam. I’m kind of getting ahead on some of those guys who have that in your exercise. But El Olam is God everlasting, God Eternal. Olam speaks of eternality. So, El Olam is two absolute attributes.

 But sometimes you find Elohim or you find Jehovah. In particular, you find it with a, with another relative attribute; that which is personal about God, which is relational. Something, something that benefits us and something then, we can learn from and then replicate, or be transmitted to us, and we practice.

 I want to just say this very quickly, if I can, that we find the same thing roughly in our Baptist Confession of faith. I keep pointing back to that, because I want you to keep on reading that. It’s a very, very good confession.

 And in Chapter 2 on the Doctrine of God, in the Baptist confession, you see a kind of, there are three sections in that chapter 2, and you see a list of roughly absolute attributes. But then in the second-half of the paragraph, you see a lot of relative attributes coming up. And I want to read some of that, just so you can appreciate it and see how, even in this confession, that the, the, absolute, the incommunicable attribute sets a foundation and provides a sufficient basis for the relative or communicable attributes of God. These are the attributes that enable us to know God as God.

 So listen to this in chapter 2 Section 1. Here’s half of the paragraph. That’s absolute attributes, primarily; “The Lord our God is the one and only living and true God.” Okay. Clearly a lot of absoluteness in there. “Whose subsistence is in and of himself,” absolute, “infinite in being and perfection. Whose essence cannot be” complement, “comprehended by any but Himself. A most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions. Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light, in which no man can approach unto. Who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite.” Not much transferred to us in that section. Right. Okay.

 So listen to the second-half, “The Lord our God is most holy, most wise,” His holiness and wisdom, that can communicate to us, “most free, most absolute.” Okay. Maybe not so much that, “but working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will, for his own glory.” Is that transferred to us? Yes.

 He, actually, exercises his will in and through us. “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.” So there, there, are statements about his justice too.

Here’s chapter 2, Section 2: Absolute. Here’s the absolute attributes. “God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself, is alone in and unto Himself, all sufficient.” Now we’re going to come back to glory, and goodness, and blessedness, because those are communicated to us, the creature, but they are alone in and unto Himself: All sufficient.

All sufficiency is in God, not in us, “not standing in need of any creature which He hath made.” That’s his self-sufficiency again. “Nor deriving any glory from them, but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them. He is alone fountain of all Being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things. And He hath most sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth. In his side 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.” Absolute.

Here’s the relative: “God is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and all His commands. To Him, is due from angels and men, whatever worship, service, or obedience, as creatures, they owe unto the Creator. Whatever He is further pleased to require of them, bringing us into worship and the service obedience to His nature, His glories.”

 Chapter Two, Section 3. Absolute. “In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or the Son, and the Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and eternity, each having the whole divine essence. Yet the essence, undivided. Fathers of none, be nor neither begotten nor proceeding. The Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son all in our beginning. There is therefore, but one God who is not to be divided in nature, or and being all the triune nature of God, the triune person of God.”

 That’s not transferable. That’s not communicable to us. “Relative attributes, but is distinguished by several,” several, “peculiar relative properties and personal relations. Which doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God and comfortable dependence on him.” Again, we talked about, we talked about, the three persons and how there is personality, an extension of Being within the Trinity, which creates a basis and foundation for our having personality, an extension of our, who we are, our character.

 So I just wanted you to hear, with maybe informed ears, from what we’ve covered already, how the relative and communicable attributes of God are grounded in the absolute and incommunicable attributes of God. They flow out of his absolute Being. They are transmitted to us, his creatures, as relative and communicable.

So we see this connection between absolute and relative attributes of God. Now I want to ask you this question. Why is it both necessary and good? Those are the, it’s a two-part question, necessary and good. You can answer either one. Why is it both necessary and good that the relative attributes of God must extend from the absolute attributes of God? Does that question make sense?

Audience: Yes.

Travis: Okay, Why is it necessary and good that the relative extends outward from the absolute? Yes, Sir.

Audience: I’ll take a stab at it. It is necessary because, I believe that the reason it is necessary, is because God created us to worship him. Worship him in spirit and in truth. If we’re to do that, and we’re to bring glory to him, then it is good for us to worship with spirit and in truth. We must have only his attributes. They must be the foundation upon which we reflect him.

Travis: Okay. All right. So. So I’d say that, that more answers the, Why is it good? It’s good, because it evokes our worship. Okay, good. Lee.

Audience: I’m just going to say that in him we live and move and have our being, and everything comes from him. We think of salvation and God has to initiate and work within us, so that he opens the eyes of dead men to be able to see and understand. But he also sustains us and we persevere in him because of his strength. So everything comes from him and everything lifts him up, and we’re just a part of that process. So that’s both his, the necessary and the goodness.

Travis: Yes, it is. And, so, you might talk about the him being the source of all Being, the fountain of all Being. It comes out of him. And so anything that extends to us must, by necessity, come from…

Audience: Ultimately, he’s, he’s glorified.

Travis: Amen. Okay, good. Real quick, Joel.

Audience: If, if, we just take two, for instance, say righteousness and justice. If that doesn’t come from God, first of all where does it come from? And two, it would be so skewed and so inaccurate of what true justice and righteousness would be. If it came from somewhere else, it would be: well, my version of justice is this; Well, my version of justice is this.

Travis: Like we’re seeing today.

Audience: My justice asserts me, and your justice will assert you. We know what justice and righteousness, and these other attributes are, because we see that’s what God is. Not because God is just or righteous, because he sees those and says I’m going to do that, because that’s the right thing to do. No, that’s who he is, and that’s how we know what it is. It has to come from him, in order for us to get the right, accurate, true sense, of what those attributes are. Otherwise, they’d be a completely messed up view of what we think they are.

Travis: So let me, let me say. We don’t got. God does not conform to some standard outside of himself of what is righteous. He doesn’t look over here and say, Oh, that’s okay, let me do; that’s righteous. Let me then do what’s righteous. Otherwise, the standard would be God. God himself; he is the standard. Otherwise, the standard, we’d, we’d elevate the standard above the Being of God; is what I’m trying to say. And what that confusing statement I just made.

 But the standard itself, if God is conforming to some standard outside of himself, then that is what is higher than God, and we ought to be bowing down to that. We don’t bow down to that, because God himself is the standard. His Being is the standard of all goodness, and righteousness, and truth, and justice. We, we, look to him and his Being. He is the standard. Yes, that’s what you’re saying.

Audience: Yes. Going back to one of the metaphors we’ve kind of used throughout the class, right: The prism. The, the, awesome power of the prism, right. The awesome power of God in his sovereignty and his unlimited power, etcetera, is a cornerstone on which we then observe, kind of, the rest of, of, the fractions of light that we’ve been saying, right.

This, the different pieces in our understanding. A lot of these attributes that we’re talking about, they’re, they’re, a human taxonomy. Right? They are our way of categorizing something that is observed of God. Right?

 So you have to start with God’s awesome power, his position over the universe and his continuing eternality of nisans, etcetera. Right. Without which none of these other attributes exist. Right. There’s nothing to observe.

 Travis: Yeah. Good. Yeah, well said. And I just want to come right around and say the, the, human taxonomy that you refer to, we are trying to understand that. But we need to recognize that, that, taxonomy, that categorization, these have actually come from God. So, it’s God revealing them. It’s not us and superimposing these things just so we can kind of get our minds around God. He has revealed it.

 And so, it’s his communication to us of his own taxonomy. But here’s how you look at me; though he didn’t say, okay, here’s a systematic theology textbook and here, you know, go ahead and look up, you know, Chapter 8, page 15 for everything on wisdom. He didn’t, he didn’t say that. We have to kind of put this together. And that’s where, as back to your comment about the human taxonomy, we are kind of systematizing this.

 We are categorizing, but it’s everything we’re getting, all these categories are coming from revealed scripture. So that’s, that’s, why I just want to add that, so that we’re not, we don’t think that this is somehow falsely, or arbitrarily isn’t, probably a better word, arbitrarily imposed on God. Bill, I see you you’re anxious to say something and then I want to come to Josh and then I need to move on.

Audience: So, I don’t know, if it’s anxious or not Travis, but, but, if we, if we take all these combinations of input that we’ve had from, from, the different men which are so good and edifying to me; the, the, little simple man in the back of my mind says, well, so what? So what? So what? And, and, and the, and the shout that just resonates is so we can be obedient. We know what we’re obedient to. We know why we’re obedient. That’s the, that’s the good and the, and the, necessary for the good is, is, God; God being the very basis of knowledge.

 We don’t take, like, we don’t look at God as a pizza, where we, where we say, I’ll take a slice of righteousness, and a slice of judgment, and a slice of wrath, and a slice of, of, this. We, we, can’t separate them into that. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s what you’ve been saying. It’s, it’s, this homogenized attribute from which everything else goes from, so that we can be obedient to the creator. And then from that our worship flows properly.

Travis: Yeah, you got it. Well said. Yeah. Good. Josh.

Audience: I think you pretty much covered it. I was just going to say that, it’s we don’t, there’s no category. There’s no concept of any of these things outside of the existence of God. They don’t exist apart from him. The only reason we understand what, like we, we, only have a category for righteousness because of God.

Because God is righteous and everything, that we could, like Joe was saying, every, all of the, well you might have a skewed idea of righteousness or, but the concept of righteousness exists in God. That’s why it has to flow out of him. Because apart from him, we, we, have no understanding of what righteousness is. Or we don’t even, that would even be a thing.

Travis: Okay. All right, good. Thank you. Great comments. I can’t take it. Just I, I, can take your comment. I just can’t due to time. So just, back to the, so I, I, said there are two parts of this; I was asking necessary and good. Why is it necessary? Why is it good? Lee hit the nail on the head with regard to necessity. God is the fountain of all being. Okay.

 That’s why these must extend from the absoluteness of God in his Being. Okay. But the, the, goodness, the different comments that you guys have made, all spot on. I just want to add this, that it’s a good thing that the relative attributes are grounded in the unchanging Being of God. Okay.

 It’s a very good thing for us, because we count God reliable. He’s not going to change on us. Robert Raymond, when he covers the relative attributes of God in his Systematic Theology, he’s very intentional at keeping the relative tied to the absolute. He doesn’t just write, write, about wisdom, and holiness, and justice, goodness, truth, as many other systematic theologians do; and then that’s totally proper and valid.

 He describes them, as, in every heading: It’s infinite, eternal and unchanging in his wisdom. Infinite, eternal and unchanging in his goodness. Infinite, eternal and unchanging in his justice and on and on he goes. I love that, because he’s trying to remind us that God’s, in his infinity and his eternality, and especially this, his unchanging nature.

 He’s never going to change in his goodness. He’s never, it’s not going to be one version of righteousness today and another one tomorrow. He is consistent, and reliable, and faithful in his Being. That is good for us. That is really good for us. Okay. I’ve got some other stuff here, but I’m going to skip it, because we’re running out of time.

 We got three groups, Lee’s got one, Josh has got one, and Mark has got one. Split yourselves evenly among those three guys and they’ve got, they’ve got sheets, little half sheets to hand out to you. They’ve got more than enough. And so, take one of those sheets, and you, what you’re going to do is go through the names.

 Some of the names of God, either starting, one group will have a name starting with El, like Elohim grounded in God’s being, and two other groups have Jehovah or Yahweh grounded in God’s name. So I want you to split among those groups and you’re going to, you’re going to look up some passages of Scripture. And so, if the group leaders are wise considering the time, they’re going to assign different passages of Scripture around the group, and, and, then you know you’ll go from there; and make good use of the time.

 You’re going to ask these questions. What is the English equivalent of the name and what divine attribute is signified by that name? Okay? You’re going to say, second thing, what is, how is that name or attribute relevant to the context of what you’re reading? Okay? Is this an absolute or incommunicable attribute? Or is it a relative attribute, one that’s communicated, transmitted to us? Or do you see elements of both? You see both in there?

If the attribute is relative and communicable, what should we expect to see transmitted to us? How should we then grow from this? How is this attribute of God manifest in us? And then give two encouragements that you would give to somebody, else based on that name or attribute. Okay, ready? Break. You guys split up into your groups.

[Groups are finished]

Travis: Hey, so just, just, stay where you are. What we’re going to do since, you know, we ran short on time, when we come back on the 17th, you guys keep your, keep your little slips of paper. Bring them back, because we’re going to debrief. Start out next time. Debriefing on what you guys went through, so we could share, share knowledge.

Also go around. So like, if you’re in this group, go to the leader of, so Mark and Josh. Joshua group, go to Lee and Mark. Marks group, go to Josh and Lee. Grab the other sheet of paper that they’re studying. Because what I’d, what I’d like you to do is take, take, these and run through them with your family or run through them with somebody, a friend or something like that during this week.

During this, couple weeks, you got a couple weeks to do it, but just try it out. Just see how it goes with your family or your wife. Or, you know, if you’re not married, do it, see if you can do it with a buddy or something like that. And just, just, run through this little exercise; see if it’s profitable. See how, see how it goes.

 We come back, we’ll share next time, what you guys all learned. Kind of go around the circle and, and, do a little debrief and then we’ll get into some other stuff. I want to close this way. You guys have heard that hymn, Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise. I’m going to, I’m just going to recite the first two verses of that hymn.

I’m going to come back through and as I recite these, listen to the attributes that are there. I’m going to ask you. I’m going to go through line by line and say, do you hear; how many attributes do you hear? Are they absolute, relative? And I just want you to, I just want you to even sing hymns with these kind of things in mind.

 So listen to this hymn, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light, inaccessible, hid from our eyes, most blessed, most glorious, the ancient of days, almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.” Here’s the next one, “Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light. Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might, thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above, thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.”

 All right, so as we close, we go through that, hymn, one, one, just those two verses, go line by line. You tell me, how many attributes, and what are they? Here’s the first line. “Immortal, invisible God only wise.” How many attributes do you hear there?

Audience: Three.

Travis: And are they relative or absolute? Both. What?

Audience: First two are absolute.

Travis: Okay, so tell, just name the at, name the at, name the line or the, the, actual word in the line. Tell me is it absolute or relative.

Audience: Immortal is absolute.

Travis: Okay.

Audience: Invisible is absolute. [Mumbling]

Travis: Okay, “God only wise.” That’s what?

Audience: Relative and communicable.

Travis: Relative and communicable Okay. Good.

Audience: God alone is all wise. Communicable. Yeah. So we can communicate as well. Yeah. It is the writer who praised him. The way the writer of the hymn praised him: God only wise. Wisdom.

Travis:  Yeah, it is. It is true. But wisdom in and of itself is a, is an attribute that is communicable to us. So. But you’re, but you’re right. Yeah, “In light inaccessible hid from our eyes.” How many attributes?

Audience: Inaccessible. Just one. Hid, one.

Travis: Couple of you see, you say two. Chuck. I’m hearing Chuck’s voice clearest. So two is that, is his answer stand for you all.

Audience: Yes.

Travis: Two. What are they? Absolute or relative?

Audience: Absolute.

Travis: Light. God is light. Absolute or relative?

Audience: That’s absolute.

Travis: Absolute. “Hid from our eyes.” What does that indicate?

Audience: Invisibility.

Travis: Invisibility, right? So Spirit, pure spirit.

Audience: Yeah, but the first on light. We’re to be the light of the world, too. So isn’t that also, only by reflecting him? That’s correct. We are not ourselves light. Yeah, moonshine. [over talking regarding moonshine]

Travis: Hey guys, real quick. Who got through? Who got through all your list? Which group? Two groups. Okay. You guys get extra casserole. That’s, that’s, your reward. Listen, let’s, let’s, go ahead and close. We need to close in prayer on the moonshine comment. We need to definitely pray for this group.

     Heavenly Father. Thank you so much for the time we’ve had this morning to, to, ponder your character, your attributes, your perfections. And we are just humbled before you as we think about who you are in your Being and then how your Being is communicated to us, in what you’ve made, who you just, your, your, grace, your goodness, your kindness, your love. We’re so thankful for it.

 And especially as we ponder those, that last question about the two encouragements, I mean, there’s so many encouragements on every single attribute. And we are so abundantly, profoundly grateful to you for being our God and bringing us to you. Reconciling us to you through your Son, Jesus Christ.

 We pray that you would help us to, to, ponder anew, who you are and teach this to others during this, next couple weeks. And as we come together again, I pray that we’d be ready to have this conversation and start it out again, to share what we’ve, what we’ve, learned and what we’ve taught. Thank you again for your goodness to us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.