Travis: I’m going to get right into review. Last, last time we looked at the fundamental. We were talking about the fundamental incomprehensibility of God, and we talked about that in conjunction with the knowability of God. You may remember, we read from the Athanasian Creed. One God in Trinity, Trinity and Unity and all that, right? We read from Augustine’s Christian doctrine on the Trinity.
Some staggering truths in those writings and they illustrate what we read in Scripture from Exodus 33 and 34, from Jeremiah 9, John 1:18, that the incomprehensible God condescends to make himself knowable to us. Okay, so coming out of our discussion last time, I’m going to ask you some questions to kind of warm up your brain. Okay?
First of all, the fact that the fundamentally incomprehensible God would condescend to make himself knowable to us. What implications does that, do, you know, what implications does that fact have on us? On our lives, on the way we live, use our time, our energy? The fact that God would make himself known to us? Wayne?
Audience: He wants to be known and therefore should be known by us to the extent that we can.
Travis: Okay, so if he wants to be known. He must be known by creatures, right? Good. Chuck?
Audience: The incomprehensibility of God, isn’t, doesn’t, is not meant to discourage us from pursuing, to know him. And Scott had said, I, I remember something Scott, sked, said that means contrary to the spirit of this age, we can’t make God whatever we want.
Travis: Okay, we can’t make God whatever we want to. We have to take him as he reveals himself. But the fundamental incomprehensibility of God is not meant to discourage us from study. It is just meant to, you know, reveal to us that there’s some things in God, that are not analogous to us, as creatures. We need to take him on his own terms, right? John?
Audience: Well, it’s more than knowing. If God wants us or he wants to have a loving relationship. I mean, when you look at it, the great commandment, what’s he say? “Thou shall love….” So, this is the number one thing, when knowing God. Basically, it’s the concept of having a relationship with God. And I think Paul, his greatest desire was to know Christ, which is God and he’s talking about an intimate, personal relationship. And so it, it’s the aspect of love that comes in here, why we’re here, why he wants this.
This is the whole concept to have this relationship, which was to be a loving relationship. And I think that’s, that kind of bothers me when people start studying theology and the knowle, it gets too academic and they forget that this is a personal God, and one that we are to have a personal relationship with.
It’s just like, it’s not like knowing somebody, because we know a lot of people. Everybody knows John Elway. But how many people have a relationship? And it’s not just the knowing, because I think the knowing, the knowing God, because you can say, if you really know God, you love God. If you don’t love God, you don’t know God.
Travis: Right, but can you, can you love God without knowing him?
Audience: No. And you can’t know God unless you’re a Christian.
Travis: Right. Right.
Audience: So. And so, that’s the relationship that comes.
Travis: Starting, starting with the fundamental nature of God; the fact that he is ‘person.’ It implies that we can know him personally.
Audience: Because he has relationships within the Trinity.
Travis: Yeah, there’s an inter Trinitarian relationship that existed before time began. From all of eternity, he was completely content and fulfilled and in loving relationships within the Trinity. There’s no need in God, that caused him to create any of this or us, right? No need.
Audience: No need.
Travis: Completely sufficient, but we’ll get into that. Joe, you’re going to say something?
Travis: No, you were not.
Audience: I was, but..
Travis: You were. You were. But it was, already well said by so many others around you. Alright, so, so the implications that, the fact of, the fact of God’s condescension to make himself known to us, the implications of that, is we must know him. We must know him. And when I say know, I don’t mean know facts. John. I mean know him in a relationship that’s, that’s exact. But we can’t know him in a relationship without facts, right? So, we have to know the facts about him, nor that we may know what he’s like, what he’s not like.
Travis: Ok. So, good. Ohh, now you want to say something.
Audience: Like Jesus said, get away from me. I didn’t, never knew you. So, he wasn’t talking, like, to the people. He, it’s not that he didn’t know facts about Jesus. They didn’t know,
Audience: Jesus didn’t know them. He, they didn’t.
Travis: There wasn’t that, in, intimate relationship. Yeah, that’s right. That’s good. So. So, ag, again, I want to press you on this, because you know, when I say that, when you guys say, I’m asking you what the implications are for us. And I, I, I was even kind of unpacked that a little more by saying, what are the implications for our lives?
What are the implications for our time, for our energy? And you guys said: We must know God. Okay, that’s good. But I want to press you a little further. What are the implications on your life? On your time? The way your schedule is? The way your money is spent? What is the implications on you, men?
Audience: ohh sure
Audience: Umm. And quickly, to set that up, when you mentioned that, I wasn’t here last week. I, I go to 1 Corinthians, in my head, where Paul says, “No one knows the spirit of a man, but the spirit of a man. No one knows God, but the spirit of God. And you haven’t been given the spirit of the world. You’ve been given the spirit of God, so that you can understand these things.” So, we have the spirit to know God. We have his spirit.
Audience: We have his revelation of himself inside of us, and he allows us to understand him. And along with that, goes a completely changed life, and totally changed affections, and completely change priorities, that grow overtime, but there is an, ess, essential foundation of a totally different life. When you really know God, because you’ve been given his spirit and united with his son, you’re changed. You’re a new person.
Audience: And so, it affects everything that you have, everything that you think, everything that you love, everything that you spend your time on, it affects everything. And that’s not perfect. And it changes,
Audience: and it grows.
Audience: But essentially it just remakes all of your priorities and everything that you think about.
Travis: I, I love the way you’ve said that, Max. It’s, it’s, exactly right. When, when, we are regenerate, we are new creations and everything changes; fundamentally, foundationally. Everything in our life changes; our priorities, our affections, starting with our affections. What we love, what we hate, all of that changes.
So, when you see somebody, who continues plodding through life, as if this has never affected them, and their schedule never changes, their priorities never change. Their pursuits don’t change. You gotta wonder how much do they really know and love God.
Audience: You know.
Travis: You know, and I want to press people on that because, like, not because I want to make them follow my pattern. I want to. I just want to say, do you really know what we’re talking about here? I mean, do you understand or get this. This is, this is God himself, the creator of all things, who is making himself known to us, right?
Audience: My thoughts went in a few different directions, but I thought back to Isaiah, when, when God revealed himself to Isaiah and he said, “Woe is me.”
Audience: “I’m undone. I’m a man of unclean lips.”
Audience: It’s that, that constant self-examination. I mean this is, this is Isaiah. This is, this is someone, you know, who in comparison to like, wow, you know and he is, he is undone before the holiness of God. And, you know, for myself and, you know, God condescended, but he did not reveal himself, you know, his, his Holiness to the world, because we can’t approach him in a sinful, you know, sinful man would just be destroyed, you know. And so his condescension is, is, based in love, as John said, because, you know, he withheld, you know, you know, that holiness, that wrath from us.
Travis: Right. Right.
Audience: And so, so, for myself, you know, the implication is, you know, constantly examining my heart. You know, what comes out of my mouth, you know, and, and, it goes by extension to priorities. But, you know, how do I speak to others? You know, am I the same person at work, that I am at church, that I am, when it’s just at home, when my kids are running around like crazy and, and, driving me up the wall, you know, am I consistent?
Travis: Yeah. Good. So, there is in, in, the revelation of God and who we know him to be, there is, immediately, a self-examination in his presence. Right? And we’re aware of ourself and our lack of holiness in contrast to God. Good.
Audience: I was just thinking that God in Deuteronomy, also told Moses, pass it on to your generations, this knowledge, this understanding of God. So that’s our responsibility to be diligent, 2 timothy, you know, 2:15, helping others in kind of a shepherding aspect. Our family, you know, to know God.
Audience: That’s our responsibility, as men, to communicate what we can know about God and passing on that legacy.
Travis: Okay, good. I, I appreciate that. I’m going. I think I want to come back to, yeah, I want to come back to that. What you just said about others knowing as well. We can’t be content to just kind of soak this up in isolation. You know, we’re not sitting in the corner, you know, like a, like a monk meditating in our own mind. Yeah?
Audience: I just going to say that the verse that I think you, yeah, Jesus said, “Take up your cross daily,” and that, you know, that just means; daily you need to be examining yourself just,
Travis: Okay. Daily. Daily pursuit. Daily self-examination, right. Good. So. When you listened last week, we talked, we read from Augustine, we read from the, the, Athanasian Creed, we read from Hodge, we read from Second Baptist London Confession, and others. When you listen to how these Theologians articulate doctrine, what’s it going to take for us to know God that precisely, and then to speak of him that clearly to other people. What’s it going to take for us? What’s, like, we’re going to require of us?
Audience: Dying and going to heaven.
Travis: Not true. Those men, those men wrote from Earth, not from heaven. Right? So what’s it gonna take for us?
Audience: The Word. Studying. Studying
Travis: Gonna take studying. Does that, does that mean it’s gonna reshuffle our priorities?
Audience: Yeah. Yeah.
Travis: Yeah right.
Audience: It also means, it’s self-awareness of both large things and small. In our trivial things, we can speak in ways that are so imprecise that we come out with a, a muddled description of, of God or, or something like that. It was on Easter and, you know, just resurrection Sunday, as you reminded me. And that was the whole point. I said happy Easter to Pat, to Travis. And he goes, ‘What are you following, a Pagan holiday?’
And there’s truth to that. He was joking, but there’s also truth to that. That, that’s, that imprecise speech is something that, that we need to be aware of; how we adopt the patterns of the world.
Audience: Instead of really understanding who we are in Christ and, and trying to exhibit that even as our inner speech and our expressions of things.
Travis: Yeah, that’s great. Well said. I, I mean, I hear this all the time. Yeah, the other night I was praying, and God just told me that.
Travis: Like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. How did God tell you?
Audience: Exactly. Yeah.
Travis: Well, I read it in the word. I just had this impression. Well, then say that. Don’t say God told me, because: what you hearing voices? That’s imprecise and it really leads other people to think wrongly about God. About how he speaks. He’s spoken in his Word, period.
Travis: We read last week from Jeremiah 31:34 that knowing God is the, really the promise of the new covenant; “they shall all know me.” Jesus said the same in John 17:3. He was praying to his father, “that this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, in Jesus Christ whom you’ve sent.” Paul made similar comments in his prayer in Ephesians 1:16 and 19, about knowing God and knowing his love.
So again, if knowing God is our birthright. Then why does it seem like we’re disinclined to pursue the knowledge of God? What makes this such work for us? What makes us reluctant to take up our birthright and pursue it with zeal and fervor? Yeah, Wayne.
Audience: Our bodies constant war with itself. Our own sin nature still eking out every once in a while.
Travis: Okay, good. Yeah. The sin principle within us that Romans 7, wars against, you know, our members warring against one another, our desires warring against. What else?
Audience: What was that you said about my body?
Travis: He’s talking about his own body.
Audience: That’s his point.
Audience: You know what I’m saying. Go on. Can’t remember.
Travis: What else?
Audience: Yeah, well all the stimuli in our world is anti-Christ. You know, even though it’s not overtly so. It is, you know, because it’s, it is under the rule and, and, leadership of Satan. It constantly presents to us a subtle view that seeks to divert us away from
Audience: Christ and that is continually. We barb, we’re barb, bombarded by it, but by everything that’s around us.
Travis: Yeah. There’s a lot of really shiny stuff out there, isn’t there?
Audience: Ohh yes.
Travis: You know, it’s so attractive, so captivating and we are so prone to follow it, like a fish to, after a lure.
Audience: Yeah. Yes. Yep.
Travis: You know.
Audience: It’s great.
Audience: Yeah, It’s great. And this is, this is kind of bad to say, but it, it, doesn’t give you a chance to, to take it easy, to rest.
Travis: What doesn’t give you a chance to take
Audience: living out our faith.
Travis: Okay, good.
Audience: Because there’s, there’s an expectation of constant change, growth. Sanctification isn’t just a, you know, yeah, it just happens, you know, as we live our life. No, I mean it’s, it’s intentional and there’s an expectation that, that, we are to be in the Word constantly.
Audience: And I, I, don’t know the reference, but that’s Old Testament when, “When you walk, by the way.”
Travis: Yeah. Deuteronomy 6.
Audience: Yeah, and that’s, that’s, always. And it’s not just, oh yeah, well, I’m at work now, I’ll, I’ll come back to it. You know.
Travis: There’s a constant lie that we’re being told all the time. Serve yourself, please yourself, relax yourself, pleasure yourself, over and over again from the world. It’s a constant refrain, right. And it’s, it’s, the sensuality of the body that says: I like that; I want that. And I continue to feed my own pleasures and my own joys, my own satisfactions, and everything.
But it’s a, it’s a, it’s a well with cracks, right? It doesn’t really satisfy, doesn’t really. And what God made us for is studying and knowing him, which is work. The, the thing that makes it difficult, makes it toil for us, is the sin, the curse, right? It’s a sin nature. It’s the curse. And we’re, we’re, always having to, it’s kind of like a garden that you plant, that i, if you just let it go out there, it’s going to be overcome with weeds, choked out, and fruitless, and it’ll be a total mess.
You have to constantly tend that garden, constantly weed it, constantly fertilize it, constantly water it. That’s your life, that’s your spiritual life. And it does take work and effort. So, there will be an effortless knowing of God, when we’re free from the presence of sin forever.
Right now, it takes effort, it takes work, and it doesn’t come by osmosis. But you can’t just lay down and relaxed, all of a sudden knowledge of God just pours over us. We have to work at it. That, rr, that’s going to require an adjustment of time, and priorities, and schedules, and everything else, so we can make time to do that. Good. John?
Audience: At that, last quarterly meeting we had, that training session.
Travis: Yeah, yeah.
Audience: You would, what you were saying?
Audience: You know what’s going on,
Travis: In the modern world. Right?
Audience: Yeah. That is a huge thing. And I think that’s where, like what you were saying, with deception, is there and how subtle it is, in so many different ways, to get people sidetracked.
Travis: Sure is.
Audience: You know, and I think that’s where, I think, a lot of our people, our supposed leaders have failed in helping people to be able to see that and to decipher that and to see how these, some things, you know, are coming into the church.
Audience: I think one of the biggest things today is everybody thinks the world revolves around the children, you know, and everything’s for the children. And I’m thinking, no, no, no, no, no. We’re supposed to be, training these children, you know, to be good Christians, to be good, to be a believer when we want and they’re to live, the world doesn’t center around them.
Travis: That’s good, Randy.
Audience: all these subtle things.
Travis: It’s the child centered parenting has gone full scale, real large, right. Yeah. So it’s, and it’s become, as you mentioned, about the leadership. It’s become like people, like priests.
Travis: You know. And the, the, there is no distinction. There’s no separation and that’s the, that’s the priestly in leadership calling, is to confront the people. It’s to confront them with the truth and call them to obedience. It’s not a, it’s not a popular thing to do. Could get you killed. Well, that’s okay though.
Audience: And our society has even diluted the impact of that through transportation and other things, right? An, and the same discourse we’ve made it really easy for people to make yourself, a decision of: I’m not going to deal with it. I’m just gonna bail.
Travis: Yeah, that’s right. We sure have. So, it’s, it’s the world we live in. So, practically speaking, what do we need to do? And, and, back to Chuck’s comment; how do we make this not just about ourselves? We’re not like monks sitting on a mountain, you know, just kind of taking it all in for ourselves. What are we practically do, and especially when we’re talking about calling other men to join us. Confronting our families. Bringing our wives along. How do we do this?
Audience: And one of the things that Lauren and I’ve done recently is introduced Bible time in the evenings where the TV is just, it’s off.
Travis: Yeah, good.
Audience: You know, she’s, she’s, got her devotional. I’ve got the study that I’m doing. Right. And sometimes we’re doing it together. Sometimes we’ve got our own personal stuff, that we need to do ourselves and, and, prayer and, and, thought that we need to do ourselves. But it’s a, it’s a dedicated time, where we’ve just set aside no distraction.
Travis: Good. So shut off all distractions, practically speaking, and have a dedicated time. Tha, tha, that’s good. I saw first, David, and I’ll come back over here, Bruce.
Audience: Yeah, I was just, kind of, going back earlier, to where we’re talking about precision of thought and precision, precision of speech. There’s, there’s, there’s two aspects of it, I guess. First is like we already discussed kind of the private diligent study of Scripture, and of theology.
And precision, also, comes through, through iron on iron. So like a setting like this, you’re, we’re talking about all these, you know, Augustine and like, I mean all the reformers, those guys preached and taught daily.
Audience: So, so, that, that practice of actually articulating what they’re studying has a, I mean, that’s, that’s essential to, to honing and refining that precision.
Travis: Forced them to clarity.
Travis: And you have to explain things to other people.
Travis: That forces you to clarity. If you just sit and you’re a spectator,
Travis: No clarity.
Travis: So, you guys have to get out there and getactive
Audience: So, so, the practical aspect is right. And we, it’s good to come here and sit and to, to, be taught, but it’s also just as important, to also then turn around and to articulate and share that with your families and your family worship.
Audience: with one another. One-on-one. Meet for coffee. You know, whatever setting is available to us.
Travis: Good. Well said. That’s exactly right. Yeah, Bruce first. And then Chuck.
Audience: Here, I’m thinking of Ephesians chapter 5. And it says, verse 25 to 26, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having answered by the washing of water with the Word.” Word, “so that he might present the church to himself in its splendor.”
And so, again, we going back upon that as far as action, you know, what does that look like? Washing, you know, taking care of your wife and your family. The washing of the word, so what does that look like? Well, it’s kind of like Wayne just said, it’s getting away from the TV and the other distractions that we face. And know, and know we can’t lead no horse to water, so to speak, but we need to take responsibility to make sure and try and encourage, your, our wives to get into the word
Travis: Yea Good.
Audience: And possibly to be teaching them.
Travis: Excellent. Excellent. Okay, good. One thing you can do, and then we’ll come to you, Chuck, and then I’ll move on. One thing you can do, if you’re, if you have any confusion about this, is take an inventory of your week, on how you spend your time.
Just, just, commit to take a week. Go Monday, Tuesday, all the way through the next Sunday and just say, okay, how did I, how did I use my time? And just write it down. For better or worse. Don’t be on your best behavior that week. Just do what you always want to do and, and, write down and say, okay, if I reduce screen time here on these days. Wow! Look how much time that opens up for me, to do some things with my family, and teach them.
And just read Scripture with them. Read a catechism with them. Read some theology with them. You know, you guys are grabbing these Bancroft books and stuff. They’re very easy, accessible stuff, isn’t it? So read that with your wife and say, “Hey, look, we just kind of went through this the other day in men’s study. Let me share some of this with you.” Just read it and then say, ‘Hey, any comments on that? What are your thoughts?’ You’d be amazed what your family comes up with? Fascinating. Chuck.
Audience: Just thinking of a conversation I had with Mike Walker on yesterday and how he’s really excited about Daunte’s progression. He’s, they, he and, and, Monika after the service, will go home and, and, they’ll just talk about the sermon and ask Daunte what he picked up from it.
Just, you know, and just as a matter of practice. And then, and so Daunte is back there flipping through the Bibles going, you know, it’s kind of a challenge when you give him scripture, when you give all the scripture from the pulpit there, you go back there, you know, looking it up and everything.
Travis: Good, Good.
Audience: I just, I just made me, it really blessed me to hear that.
Travis: Yeah, yeah, that is really neat. It’s, it, there is a, there is something when, when, we’re trying to go deep into the knowledge of God and understanding of God. It’s amazing what comes alive, you know, because we’re made for that. We’re designed by God to know him, to glorify him through that knowledge of, of, him. It’s great.
Audience: I wonder if, if the more we know God, the more we learn about him, the, does God ignite that curiosity to know more?
Travis: Oh Yeah!
Audience: Curiosity is, though. Wow! Let me learn, let me learn more about that.
Travis: Yeah. Yeah, it does. It breeds more curiosity, more spiritual curiosity. Well, thanks, guys. That’s we, we, need, we do need to be pressing and, and, and do this with other men in our church. This, this room ought to be filled. We got a lot of men in our church. They’re not all here. We ought to.
This room ought to be filled with our men every single Saturday morning. And, and, so we, we, have work to do to try to recruit and, and, you know bring these guys in to help them to, to, love the truth. So work with that. You know don’t be afraid to, to, confront and challenge and hold out a goal and to other guys. That’s, that’s our job. That’s what, we’re men, that’s what we do.
Well after we emphasized, last time, how important it is to delve deeply into the knowledge of God. Remember the fall of Hank Hanegraaff? We mentioned that last week. Okay, so it’s so crucial, that we go deep into the knowledge of God and to knowing him, not just with accuracy, but with passion and joy. It’s back to John’s refrain about loving God, knowing and loving him.
Well, then we kind of got an, in, introduction after that to the attributes of being of God. We’ll refresh our memories on that in, in a moment, a moment here, but we, we, read a couple of sections from chapter two of the London Baptist Confession, the, of, of God and of the Holy Trinity. We’re just illustrating there how that confession listed attributes of God, that, that document is a confessions.
And so by its nature, it didn’t stop to explain or elaborate like we intend to do, as we go through this. But it, it, was very precise in the words, the language it used. And that’s what I wanted you to hear is the precision of that document. And I want us to more and more think like that. I want to think more and more like that, as well. At the end of the hour last week, I, I mentioned that there are several different ways to organize the attributes of God.
We’re going to get into that a little bit more this morning, and I, I, mentioned to you my preference for using two categories in organizing the attributes of God: God’s greatness and God’s goodness. Okay? So, we can say that God’s greatness involves his self-existence. What’s called aseity; involves his infinity, his perfection, his omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, wisdom, eternity, immutability, incomprehensibility, his simplicity. That’s God’s greatness.
We’re talking about the, the, his essence, his being. And the, just the fact that he is altogether different than us, holy. God’s goodness, speaking of holiness, it does involve holiness, truth, love, righteousness, justice, faithfulness, mercy, grace. So, God’s goodness has to do with how his greatness, then is, you know, activated with us, so that we experience God’s good, God’s greatness, as goodness toward us. Okay?
I like to distinguish the attributes of God’s goodness a little bit further. What God is in himself, that is, his holiness, and his truth, and his love. And then what God is in relation to others, his righteousness, which is, you could say is transitive holiness. His faithfulness, was, which is transitive truth, and then his mercy and grace toward us. Those are examples of transitive love. So, we kind of talked, touched on some of that last time. So that was all review.
Now we’re gonna get into moving a little bit. Moving the ball, a little bit forward, down the field. All right? Let’s, let’s, talk about the attributes of God’s greatness. And this, again, is just a little bit of review from last time, so we make sure terms are distinct in our minds. This is just an introduction, here, to the attributes of God’s being. And I want to ask the question from last time. What do we mean by the ‘being’ of God? Do you guys remember what we’re talking about when we say, the ‘being,’ what is that?
Audience: That’s ah..
Travis: What’s that? I heard about…
Audience: I wrote some things down, but, existence, essence, substance.
Travis: Okay. Good. Yeah. Essence. Substance.
Audience: Fundamental nature. Yeah.
Travis: Okay. Fundamental nature. Yeah, that’s right. Okay. So, it’s the word “na eisai” in Greek. Basically. It said it’s synonymous to, esencia, in Latin, which is essence, or substantia in Latin, which is substance. So, we’re talking about the stuff of God, his, the, the nature of his divinity. So, ‘being’, you could say, is the fundamental nature of an individual existence; essence, substance. Okay?
What about an attribute? What’s an attribute of God or what, not, not, what is an attribute of God? Don’t list it. What is it?
Audience: What is the word definition?
Travis: Attribution. What are we talking about there?
Audience: What can be taken away and we’re not ‘that’ anymore.
Audience: Like human attribute. If we can take something away from us, then we’re not human anymore. Like a moral conscience.
Travis: Okay. All right. Good. Yeah.
Audience: And essential permanent characteristic.
Travis: Okay. Good. That’s really well said. The central permanent characteristic. Essential, that is, you can’t do without it. Permanent, it doesn’t change its characteristic. That’s good. That’s really good. You guys can write that down. Or you can listen to Hodge. Here’s a, here’s Hodge. Well, we could say this. This isn’t Hodge, but, “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.
An attribute is an essential aspect of being. So, so, Hodge says this, “to the divine essence, which is in itself, 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. These divine perfections are called attributes, as essential to the nature of divine being, and necessarily involved in our idea of God.” He continues, in another place. This is a longer quote, but, I’ll, I’ll tell you where to pay attention, you know. You can learn.
Audience: We’re always paying attention.
Travis: I know you’re always paying attention. “The older theologians, destring, distinguish the attributes of God. Number one, from predicates, which refer to God in the concrete and indicate his relation to his creatures as creator, preserver, ruler, et cetera. That is to say, creation is predicated of God, that is stated or affirmed or attributed to, so, we call him creator.” Okay.
“His sovereignty is predicated to God, so we call him ruler or Lord and so on.” Okay, so that’s, he said, that’s one way, that the older theologians used to distinguish the attributes of God into predicates: He’s creator, he’s Lord, he’s sovereign, he’s ruler.
We could also continue with Hodge, distinguish the attributes of God from properties. Which are technically the distinguishing characteristics of the several persons of the Trinity, so Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Okay.
Number three, “from accidents or qualities which may or may not belong to a substance, but which may be acquired or lost.” Okay, pay attention to this next part. Here it is, “Thus holiness was not an attribute of the nature of Adam, but an accident, not a mistake, an accident, something which he might lose and still remain a man, whereas intelligence was an attribute, because the loss of intelligence involves a loss of humanity. The perfections of God, therefore, are attributes, without which he would cease to be God.”
Okay, you understand the difference between accidents and attributes. An accident of mine is holiness. An attribute of mine is intelligence. Which can be argued. But, but, if I, if, if, you take intelligence away, I no longer, I, I cease to be a man.
If you take the holiness away, I was not born in holiness, right? So, I’m still a man. But, that’s a, that’s an accident. Accident in humanity. Okay? So just a brief introduction to the concepts of being an attribute. Those are really reminders.
Let’s talk about organizing the perfections or the attributes of God, Okay? The infinite vastness of God’s being makes this a challenge for us. Our, we have a, a, creaturely unfamiliarity, I guess you could say, with the divine nature, and so it’s a perplexing task to organize the attributes of God’s being. Thankfully, we have a lot of good theologians before us who have done a lot of work on this, and we borrow from their work. I’m so grateful that we stand on the shoulders of these giants.
Several ways to look at attributes of God’s being, you can get these things jumbled up in your mind. I just want to kind of expose you to some different ways to organize. But they, they, basically break things down into the two categories. Categories of talking about God’s essence, who God is, or what God is, as a spiritual being, and then God’s, how that, how that interacts with us, the creature. Okay?
So we have God’s essence like his infinity, his eternity, his simplicity, those kind of things that are, you know, attributes of essence. But how those relate to us is faithfulness, holiness, righteousness. Okay, so those kind of; grace, mercy, add love, all those kind of things. God is love; is how it interacts and intersects with us. Okay? So those are the basically, the two categories.
Audience: Essence and the expression?
Travis: You could say essence and expression, but still the, the, expression are still attributes of God’s being. So it’s, it does, it, it’s interesting when you read the different theologians, how some of these can crossover. There, they essentially stay in their own, they, they, stay in their own half of the field or whatever, but, but, but, we don’t and, we want to be careful too.
Really careful that we don’t divide God into two parts or chop him up into bits, because that’s denying the simplicity of God. God is all of his attributes. Okay? So we need to be careful in how we talk about it, but we need to. Just because we’re trying to understand this, we do need to list things. We do need to divide and categorize things.
But that is, you know, we’re, you just want to be aware of the danger of thinking of God in parts and composite parts. He’s not composite being. So, Rolland Mccune, the Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, Louis Berkhof of Calvin Seminary, they both set forth different ways to categorize the attributes of God. So, kind of listed out. I found that very helpful.
You talk about the absolute and relative. So, his absolute attributes or his relative attributes, so that absolute, that which is intrinsic to God’s essence, versus the essence of God in relation to his creation. Okay. So, this is what we’re kind of talking about. You said, essence, and Lee, what did you say? Essence or expression?
Travis: So that’s kind of, that’s kind of what you hear there. The essence of God in relation to his creation is the expression. You can talk about absolute and relative. You can talk about imminent or you, other words, in other words, intrinsic or intransitive attributes. Or we could talk about eminent or transitive attributes.
So, on the one hand, it’s that which does not go forth and operate outside the divine essence, like his simplicity and eternity, vor, versus that which does issue forth and produce effects outside of God, like his omnipotence, his benevolence, and so forth.
You talk about this is a common one. This is kind of the way I’ve, I’ve, thought about it most of my Christian life. Incommunicable and communicable attributes. You’ve heard that. So, incommunicable, incommunicable is that to which there is nothing analogous in the creature, like aseity or immutability versus that which can be analogous in the creature, the goodness and mercy, things like that.
There are, another way of dividing it up, is natural or non-moral and then moral. This is Emery Bancroft’s approach. If you’ve been reading you’re, doing your reading in your book. So that which is intrinsically divine essence and that which is projected to his creatures. Natural, moral.
There’s also constitutive and characterizing. So, as it sounds, it’s that which constitutes the essence of divinity versus that which describes the divided character. Okay. So constitutive, characterizing.
And then, you know, this is the one I’d like to use, is greatness and goodness. And, and, the reason I like greatness and goodness is because it, it’s, it’s, forcing me to think, worship. You know. It’s forcing me to think of God’s grandeur, his splendor, and then his goodness toward me; the creature, toward all his creatures. I really like that. Okay.
In all the ways of categorizing God’s attributes, we find his attributes that are inherent to his unchanging spiritual nature, first of all, and then those that are manifest in his dealings with others. So that’s why we’ll talk about God’s greatness on the one hand and God’s goodness on the other hand. Okay? Any questions on that? Just the different ways of characterizing.
Audience: These all seem to be things that are invented by men. This is just our way of trying to make sense of something, like you say, that we can’t speak about, but we’re trying to.
Travis: Yeah. Yeah, I’d say. I, I, don’t know if I’d put it in terms of invented. I’d say in terms of apprehended, acknowledged and we are using language to try to craft that. But God is who he is and we’re dealing with that reality. We are born and, you know, we grow up, we’re self-aware and we’re just looking up to the heavens and saying somebody made this.
And then we’re starting to grapple with what we see in creation, and conscience, and revealed in the word of God. Yeah. So, we’re having to where, we’re apprehending, and acknowledging, and putting words onto what we see. And it’s not just our own words, but it’s what we see revealed in Scripture. Yeah, Wayne.
Audience: Our, our, brains not being omniscient, right? Require essentially on top ontology and taxonomy, in order to categorize things without which we just can’t grasp them.
Travis: Yeah, exactly. That’s right. That’s right. Max?
Audience: At the risk of getting the, that’s a stupid question, but I’ll ask it anyway, because it, it, kind of goes to what you’re saying. I’m, I’m, sitting here trying to understand. Besides just a general desire to understand God. Is there a? What is this closet that we’re hanging this stuff in? What, is there a better way to understand why we’re delving into these, complex, hard to describe differences, between attributes and things. I mean, what do I do with this. If I understand it better? What..
Travis: You worship and you evangelize. Disciple. Yeah.
Audience: Essentially, it, it basically saying, it all leads to worship, in a sense. That it all, because worship is what you do.
Audience: So, so what..
Travis: What did God.. yeah, what did God designed us to do and to be. To be and to do? God designed us to reflect his glory. We’re created in God’s image, and so we are to then reflect his glory. And he’s given us minds that can apprehend, can recognize, understand, and then mouths to speak and to influence others around us.
So, we are just as the, just as the flower in the field grows and bursts forth in its blossom. There’s something about that that brings glory to its creator. We, if we’re living right according to the way God designed us, we are blossoming forth, and our blossom isn’t the, the, the, beauty of the flower or the smell of its fragrance.
Ours is the knowledge of the truth that comes out of our mouths, and so we want to think carefully about God, and you know, categorize and understand the attributes, so that we speak well of God. We speak rightly of God, because that’s where we’re designed to be. That’s what we’re created for. Mike.
Audience: Ohh, just thinking. So the different, you listed several different men, so they’re like tools. So, if you maybe, you relate more one guy, one way than the other.
Travis: Yeah, that’s true.
Audience: So, so you could, there are ways to study God to apprehend who he is and what he does, what he expects of you.
Travis: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. These are these are different. They’re just different. All these different. You know, we talk about greatness and goodness, constitutive, characterizing, natural, moral, incommunicable and communicable. Yeah. Some, some, guys may say, you know, I really like the, the, way of thinking incommunicable and communicable. That’s how the way I think and other guys, like, I like greatness and goodness and other guys are, yeah, but they’re, but they’re basically saying the same thing. Okay?
They’re basically, everything in, in, one column is, was, one set of characterizing or, or, categorizing, and everything in the other column is the other. Devin?
Audience: I was just thinking about that. As we learn about God, yeah, we worship him, more and more. And I think when we get to heaven, too, we’ll, we’ll find out more, and we’ll find out what we, you know, only scratched the surface on here, and it’ll cause us to worship him even more. So it’s a lifelong and death long.
Travis: And never ending. Yeah. Never ending.
Audience: Never ending worship. That’s wonderful.
Travis: Yeah, exactly.
Audience: That’s the, the, what’s in all his catechisms. What was the first question? What is the purpose of man?
Audience: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.
Travis: That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly what we’re designed to, to be and to do.
Audience: And as we see these, how these attributes work together, then we become, and if we want to become more like him, than in our own lives, we’ll see how those attributes, in us, can work together.
Travis: Right. Yeah. How those communicable attributes come out in our own lives and how we kind of conform more and more to the image of God in Christ. That’s right. That’s good. Okay, one more, Nicholas.
Audience: I just, I just kind of had a realization about my own thinking on theology. In the past, I’ve thought of this study of theology as kind of a, a, list of attributes that you go through and you kind of go through this process, and you, you’ve now gone through the study of God, you know.
And I just realized, what we’re doing is actually, really just pursuing a knowledge of a person, in a relationship and that’s driven by love. And for us we have to categorize and we have to study, kind of, almost, scientifically, because we for, for anything that’s kind of vague or obscure in our own heads.
Like other areas, where I’ve done this is, like, with a sin issue in my life. I know I’m sinning, but I don’t fully know why and so I have to go study out that sin and figure out where it manifests and what draws it out.
And another thing, was there was an attribute of God that I, I, recently was thinking about, just his, his, generosity. And so, it was kind of categorizing different types of generosity that he, and it, kind of, just helped clarify that issue in my mind.
And so, I think, what that does is helps us be clear in our thinking and also it helps you to be able to identify it, when you see it. And so, it just helps you to really understand more concretely what it is you’re trying to know.
Travis: Yeah. Yeah. That’s good. Very helpful. I hope that was all caught. Good. So, we’ve had an introduction here to the concept of attributes and being, we’ve talked about how to, different ways to organize them. So let’s, let’s, just list them. You know, and this may not be entirely exhaustive and you may have heard some synonyms for what I’m about to say, but we’ll, we’ll, do this.
Again, proceeding with the categories of God’s greatness and goodness always reminded for the point of our study, right? We’re shepherds, we’re theologians, we’re men. So, we’re, we’re, doing this to worship and praise God.
In fact, let me read from Elihu, Elihu, in Job 36:22. He says, “Behold, God is exalted in his power; Who is a teacher like him? Who’s prescribed for him his way, or who can say, ‘You have done wrong?’ Remember to extol his work, of which men have sung. All mankind has looked on it; man beholds it from afar. Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.”
And then he goes on to talk about, he draws up the drops of water, that’s still in the mist. And he talks about the hydrological cycle. Yeah, so it’s, it’s in, it’s incredible. You know what you see in the Book of Job, talking about the perfections of God. And then observing creation around. I absolutely love that book.
Anyway so, that’s, that’s, what we’re, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing for the worship and praise of God in his glory for who he really is. Okay. So, God’s greatness starts with life, and that’s what hopefully we’ll get to more today. Starts with life and involves spirituality. Not that, oh, he’s, he’s, just so spiritual, you know. No, he’s by essence his, he’s spirit.
God is spirit. That’s what we’re going to talk about. And then following from that simplicity, aseity, which is self-existence or independence, personality, triunity, eternality, infinity, immutability, which includes impassability, omnipresence, which is talking about, he is all present.
Omniscience, he’s all-knowing. Omnipotence, he’s all powerful. God’s goodness, just listing them, starts with his holiness and involves truth, which includes faithfulness and wisdom. Also love, which includes his mercy and grace, and then righteousness, which includes his justice. If you compare some of that with what you’ve been reading in Bancroft. Our categories of greatness and goodness correspond with his categories of natural and moral attributes.
So in the reading you can see him talking about according natural attributes. He talks about the life of God, God’s spirituality, his personality, his triunity, self existence, eterneedy, eternity, immutability, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. Then he goes on to talk about moral attributes. The Holiness of God and then the love of God, which includes his mercy and grace. Okay, so that’s just a quick listing of some attributes.
Now I want to talk about the foundation of all the attributes of God’s being, and that is the fact that, ‘he is’, okay, ontology, just the fact that of his being, that ‘he is’ and that he has ‘being.’ The foundation of all the attributes of God’s being is this attribute, we would call life. The fact that he lives.
We can see this. And I would just want to mention some of the, the, names of God that point to his being, his essence, the fact that he is and he lives. There are three words, two of them in the Old Testament, one in the New: Elohim, Yahweh and Theos. Elohim, that’s the common Hebrew word for God. It’s used like two, 2000 of 2500 times, you know, roughly for the true God of Israel, in contrast to false gods.
So, Elohim can be used of false gods in the Old Testament, but Elohim is plural in form. Which literally, literally, if you’re translated literally, means ‘gods,’ when referring to the polytheistic religions that surround Israel. But after the revelation of God, as one; “Hear O, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Monotheism. We understand this plural form of Elohim to refer to his divine majesty.
And then, you know, theologians or grammarians will even talk about the plural of majesty in the Old Testament. The talk, you know, you’re using a plural term. It’s like talking about myself, instead of me, and I, talking about ‘we,’ because, because, I am so great, you know. That’s, that’s the way people could use that in the, in the Old Testament, in the Hebrew.
Audience: And then Deuteronomy 6:4, the last Hebrew word there is a..which is a..
Audience: Unified one. It’s, it’s..
Audience: It’s, it’s…
Travis: That’s right.
Audience: It’s not the specific singleton.
Travis: That’s right. That’s right. So, but Elohim could refer to divine majesty, but it could also refer or, or, allow for the triune nature of God. Okay? So a plurality of person, which is later to be revealed.
Yahweh, that’s the most common reference to God and it’s used more than 6800 times in the Old Testament. It’s the name by which God revealed himself to Moses. You can turn your Bibles, just quickly, to Exodus Chapter 3. In verses 10 to 15, God says to Moses, “‘Come, I will send you to pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.’
“But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ He said, ‘But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.’ And so Moses said to God, If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?’”
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: The LORD that is,’” and that’s the divine name Yahweh, “‘The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’”
In Deuteronomy 6:4, “Shema Yisrael Yahweh Elohim Yahweh ehad.” That’s the Hebrew there, means: “Hear Israel, Yahweh, our God, Yahweh is one.” That, that name Yahweh, it comes from the affirmation of God as a living being, without, without beginning, without end. He’s pure being. The scholastic theologians put it this way. God is pure act as in not potentiality, but actuality, utter perfection. Pure act. Okay.
That’s that sense of calling God, I AM. Yahweh is related to the verb hayah, which is the word, it is a verb of ‘being like.’ It’s like ‘I AM’. It’s is isness. What is that to you? What is the sense of I AM? What does that mean? I AM. What does that tell you about God?
Audience: Did you just ask what does that mean to you?
Travis: Yeah, I did. But I want to understand. I want you to tell me what you think that means. I don’t know. I haven’t, have another way to say that.
Audience: All the others isn’t. All the other guys are not, you know.
Travis: Are not. Okay. I AM and they are not. Okay. So, there’s a, there’s a, just by that statement of affirmation. There’s a negation. right. Good.
Audience: It’s not, “I was not.” “I will be.” I am.
Travis: Okay, good. So just the, the statement of being in the present tense. It’s a, there’s a, there’s a, I hate doing this, but an ‘isness.’ Always.
Travis: I AM.
Audience: yes, speaker? Give the self-existence the fact that God always has been, no matter when it was, ‘he is’.
Audience: So now we get into creation and now we get into, you know, ‘Let there be light.’ We get in, we get into the imminence of God. Yet, we get into, the, there’s an ‘otherlyness,’ right? There by saying, I AM. I don’t need to explain. I AM.
Travis: Right. You know, in, and when Jesus was dealing with the Sadducees, remember that, he said, he said, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. I am the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.” Yeah. Good.
Travis: Okay. Complete.
Audience: No matter what situation you’re in, I AM.
Travis: Right. Right. Okay, good.
Audience: He has no beginning and he has no end.
Travis: Okay, so there’s an eternity there. Yeah. Good. Lee?
Audience: Makes me think of the time space dimension. That’s all that we understand. And there was, there is something that’s without reference to that. That is God. And he, there was no time. There was no space. There was, there’s nothing like that, in, in his essence.
Travis: Okay, good. God is not. And we’ll get to this more. God’s not subject to time. He’s not inside of time. He created matter, put it in motion, which is what is required for time to be marked. What?
Audience: Or space.
Travis: Right. That’s right. So he’s outside of time. Space. Yeah, good. Yeah.
Audience: And kind of jump off of that. There’s nothing that, because God is totally outside of creation and independent of it, there is nothing that he can, there’s nothing better, that he can say about himself. Like to, to, explain himself, to refer to himself.
Audience: He’s just is. And it forces us to go and discover what he is.
Travis: Good. Yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s, exactly right. And, and, when, when, he says that to Moses, it does force this; Wait a minute. What? What are you? I AM. What is that? What is your name? Some of you speak to the concept of a name. Remember, you know: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” That’s not just talking about using it as a curse word. It’s at least that. But what is it to, to, speak of a name? What is a name in the Old Testament biblical times? What is it? What does it refer to?
Audience: Their character. Character.
Audience: It defines who you are.
Travis: So the name is, it repr, it’s representative, it’s symbolic, it’s nominal, of what you are. Who you are. I am Travisness. Whatever that is. It means a choice at the crossroads. Thanks, mom.
Audience: You don’t know. You are, Travis son of.
Travis: Right, right.
Audience: It talks about his, his omniscience, you know. God even says you know, you know, he answered Moses, you know, what shall I say to them? Says, I AM. But there’s that, you know. I don’t know things yet. I’m constantly learning. God doesn’t have that restriction. He just ‘is.’
Audience: So just anything that we ask him, you know. There’s nothing that will surprise him, nothing that he’s going to learn. It’s just.
Audience: He is.
Travis: Yeah. Good. It’s, it’s, really hard for us to get our minds around this.
Travis: You know, his just being, ‘I AM, that I AM’. He, he, affirms what he ‘is,’ and then he tells him, tell them, Yahweh. Yahweh, which is related to, hayah, that verb speaking of ‘being.’
Audience: Can I ask you a question?
Audience: I’m trying to think this through my mind, because the, ‘I am,’ statement, it, it demonstrates that God’s being is not contingent on anything else. Because for me to say that, I would say, ‘I am.’ Because, because, God could have got my parents, you know? Because, because, for God, the brevity of this statement demonstrates that fact that he,
Audience: ‘I am.’ Period. I am.
Travis: I AM, and that you kind of, that’s the word for that is aseity. It’s just there’s a, there’s a complete independence. There’s a, it’s not dependent or contingent. Non-contingent being.
Audience: He is the cause. He is ‘the cause.’
Audience: He’s not caused. He causes everything.
Travis: And it’s amazing to think that he revealed that to this, this man, Moses, who was not as evolved as we are.
Travis: How did these (can’t determine) blind, understand all that? Poor guy. So, we’re gonna. Okay. So, then the, Theos is the New Testament word God used to translate the Hebrew, Elohim, except Theos is singular, it’s not plural, but we’re going to talk about other names later, as they come up. But those are the words or the references to God and relate, really, they do bring out the greatness of his being.
The Elohim, that plural majesty, the, the, the, Yahweh, which is related, that verb of ‘being,’ and then the greatness of his being, begins, it must begin with the fact that he, ‘is.’ Okay? So this is the, if you’ve ever heard of the ontological argument for the existence of God, this is what they’re trying to get to. That the, the, to affirm and prove the existence of God, is to say that one of the attributes of existence, or of, of, yeah, is pure existence, is, is, the fact that he ‘is.’ That he exists.
And so, we can’t come up with any better argument than that. I’m slaughtering that argument. I’m sorry, but maybe I’ll be better prepared next time. Anyway, so let’s, let’s, let’s, look up a few passages. I’d like to, if, if, if you guys could grab something, I don’t know what.
I got a lot of them and I want you to read them off pretty quickly. Okay, so Deuteronomy 5:26, let’s start with, let’s just go across the room here. Ryan. Psalm 42:2. Mike, please remind me your name.
Travis: Adam. Sorry about that. Psalm 84:2. Doug, Jeremiah 10:10. Lee, Deuteronomy 6:26. Max, Matthew 16:16. Joe, John 50, ah, 5:26. Brett, Acts 14:15. David, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Devin, 1 Thessalonians 1:9. Joel, 1 Timothy, 3:15. John, Hebrews, 3:12. Nick, Hebrews 9:14. Gary, Hebrews 10:31, and Scott, Hebrews 12:22.
Audience: Travis, you said. Deuteronomy 6:26.
Travis: Sorry, Daniel.
Audience: What was the second Hebrews one? Hebrews 9?
Travis: 14. Ready? Go.
Audience: “For who is there of all flesh that has heard the voice of the living God, speaking out of the midst of fire, as we have and has still lived?”
Travis: Okay, so we’re affirming here in this point. All these scriptures are going to relate to God being and being a living being. Okay. So, he’s living God. Go ahead, Mike.
Audience: Ohh, Psalm 42:2, “My soul,” thoy, “thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”
Travis: The living God. Adam.
Audience: Psalm 84:2,2, “My soul longed, and even yearn for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.”
Travis: All right. Good. Jeremiah, 10:10.
Audience: “But the Lord is the true God. He is the living God and the everlasting king at his wrath, the Earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.”
Travis: Good. Daniel 6:26.
Audience: “I make a decree that in all the dominion of my kingdom men are to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel; For He is the living God and enduring forever, His Kingdom is one which will not be destroyed, His dominion will be forever.”
Travis: Who wrote that? I think that, er, said that. I think isn’t that, Darius.
Audience: Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar.
Travis: Is it Nebuchadnezzar? Okay. Matthew 16:16.
Audience: “Simon, Peter replied, you are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
Travis: Good. John. 5:26
Audience: “For as the father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.”
Travis: Keep that one in mind. The father has life in himself, Okay? Not only is he living, but he has life in himself.
Audience: He had to.
Travis: Had to. Has to. Must. Yeah, good. Acts 14:15.
Audience: “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of like nature with you, and we bring you good news that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
Travis: I can’t remember if it’s the Westminster Confession of Faith or the, yeah, the Westminster Confession, or the London Baptist Confession, but in citing scriptures, speak of the simplicity of God. That is, he is non-composite. He’s simple ‘being.’ Cites that verse. Read it again.
Audience: “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of life, nature of you. And we bring you good news that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.”
Travis: This contrast between the creatures, them, and the living God. What’s the contrast there between simplicity and composite? Okay, go ahead. The next one, 2 Corinthians 6:16.
Audience: “What agreement has the Temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the Living God; as God said, I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Travis: Okay. The temple of the Living God, then, Devin 1 Thessalonians 1:9.
Audience: “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Travis: Good. Living, true God. 1 Timothy 3:15.
Audience: “If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the Living God, a pillar and buttress of,” of, “the truth.”
Audience: Cool. Alright, John, Hebrews 3:12.
Audience: 3:12. “Take heed, brother, lest there be in any of you an evil, heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
Travis: Okay. Good. Nick.
Audience: “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Travis: Okay. Gary.
Audience: Hebrews 10:31, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Travis: And Scott. Hebrews 12:22.
Audience: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering.”
Audience: What was his reference?
Travis: His was Hebrews 12:22.
Travis: As the living God is, John 5:26 says, God has life in himself. Okay, so we’re not talking about just like us. Again, this is not analogous to us in the fact that we are animate, we’re living. It’s the fact that God is not only living, but life giving. He has life in himself, Okay? This is the origin and the source of all things that live. That is what distinguishes God as the living God. So, he is, he exists, and he’s the living God.
There is a life that comes out of him, that started at the very beginning, when he created the life-giving energy: Light. Genesis 1:1 to 3, “let there be light.” And then when he created man in the Garden in Genesis 2:7, “he breathed in him the Breath of life.” So, you see God. How do you put it? Emanating life. Projecting life?
Travis: All over the place. Okay?
Audience: And all life now, none of it has been created since those, since the original creation.
Audience: All that has been procreated based on the energy that God gave us to start with or the, the, emanation that he gave us. It’s an astonishing thought.
Travis: Think about this, though. When we think about the creation, you could say, of individual souls. Okay, so there is, there is all life that is basically, I’m coming, physical life coming from my parents. But what about my soul? There’s new life coming all the time, and my soul is a mortal soul, and yet it will go on. It will live on forever. So, it has a starting point on the dotted line, right? There’s a dot and then a line with an arrow on the end of it, going that way. Right? In one of two places.
Travis: But there’s a soul created.
Audience: That’s not eternal, but it’s immortal, to the starting point, but no end. Eternal; no starting, no end. That’s, that’s, how I was taught to distinguish those two.
Travis: I reserve immortality to refer to God.
Audience: We don’t have eternality then, because I reserve eternality for God.
Travis: Right. Eternality goes both directions to infinity. Both, right? Yeah. So all those terms refer to God. I’m not sure exactly how to characterize man’s soul.
Audience: Everlasting. Like you said, either way, it lasts forever. That means it has a beginning. We do have eternal life.
Audience: We have eternal life.
Travis: Not, not, not, as a part of our being, though. It’s granted to us.
Audience: It’s granted to us.
Travis: And we are drawn into the divine nature.
Audience: That’s just called soulness.
Travis: Fair enough. Thank you, Devin, for helping us to move on. So, in John 1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
Again, if we, there’s so much theology there. It’s, it’s, mind boggling, but in Jesus Christ was life. The principle of life, that and that life was the light of men. Again, we’re back to that concept of, as we’ve talked about before in different contexts of life, light, energy. What is it? Don’t know? It’s God’s life. That’s what comes out and animates everything.
Audience: Or is there two kinds of life?
Travis: There’s, I mean, there’s physical life and there’s spiritual life.
Audience: There’s people in hell, are they going to be in, but they’re, I mean, we have a different kind of life than other non-believers, right?
Travis: Oh yeah, definitely. There’s a, there’s a never ending and everlastingness to their life, but it’s not the divine life. It’s not eternal life, in the sense that, we’re, they’re partaking in the divine nature.
Audience: Eternal degradation versus..
Travis: Eternal damnation. That’s a horrible thought, isn’t it?
Audience: Looks like eternal death, not eternal life.
Audience: In a sense, I guess eternal death is not what we think of as death and the annihilation that, you know, the Seventh Day Adventist, you know, and all that. But, but, there’s eternal life. But it’s, it’s, actually eternal death, constantly, forever.
Travis: The concept of death is separation.
Travis: So physical death, think spirit separated from the body. Spiritual death, that we’re born into, is being separate from God. Being born separated from God. So we’re not connected to his spiritual life. Eternal Death, though, is eternally in that condition. That’s a horrid thought.
Which again brings us back to the fact that we’re saved. Why? Why us? Why did God choose us? And for his own glory. And we need to leave it at that. 1 John 1, “That which was from the beginning, which we’ve heard, which we’ve seen with our eyes, which we looked upon touched with our hands, concerning,” it’s interesting.
All these sense perceptions, “concerning the word of life- the life was made manifest, we’ve seen it, testified to it, proclaimed to you the eternal life which was with the father and then was made manifest to us- that which we’ve seen and heard we proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and do our fellowship is with the father, with his son Jesus Christ.”
“We’re writing these things that our joy may be complete. This is the message we’ve heard from him. Proclaim to you that God is light, in him is no darkness at all.” So light, and as it goes on from here, it’s connecting that with, fellowship in God, walking in darkness.
So, the darkness being no truth, no purity, no holiness. There’s, it’s just staggering to think, John, that, you know, as you guys, whoops. Greek students know, Some, some, of the simplest, the simplest Greek in the New Testament is John’s, John’s Greek. And yet the theology is staggering. It’s so profound.
Okay, so God ‘is.’ He ‘is,’ and God is life. He is a living God. So, all of that so far was the introduction to the attributes of God’s being. We just introduced this. We’ve talked about the concepts of attributes of ‘being.’ We’ve talked about how to organize these. We’ve provided a bit of a list, talked about the fundamental aspect of being, which is life. Our God is a living God.
Now as we get into, the attributes here, want to start, you know, we’re looking at the attributes of God’s greatness. God is a living God. These are the attributes here that are intrinsic to the living God, to the divine essence. We could talk about these in terms of absolute, imminent, natural, constitutive attributes. So, these attributes here are intransitive. They’re not communicable to us or incommunicable attributes.
So, of these attributes here, that we’re about to go through, nothing is analogous here to us in the creature, and the first one here is that God is spirit. From the fact that God is spirit is going to flow, a lot of other attributes; his simplicity, his infinity, his, his immortality. We’re going to talk about all that, but God is spirit.
So, John 4:24, this is where Jesus speaks, definition, definitionally of God’s nature and he speaks it to a Samaritan woman. Isn’t it interesting, just a conversation. Lee gave me some insight, some Middle Eastern insight into that conversation with the Samaritan woman. I thought it was fascinating. Maybe sometime Lee will preach that. Okay, but, but, he says Pneuma ho theos, spirit: God is.
Let me, let me read some. Oh man. Okay, so I’m going to read out of Charnock here, pages 178 here. “God is a spirit; that is, he hath nothing corporeal, no mixture of matter, not a visible substance, a bodily form. He is a Spirit, not a bare spiritual substance, but an understanding, willing Spirit, holy, wise, good, and just. Before Christ’s spake of the Father, the first person in the Trinity; now he speaks of God essentially:”
Now he’s talking about his conversation with the Samaritan woman. So, before he spoke of God as the father, the first person in the trinity, now he speaks of God, essentially. “The word Father is personal, the word God essential; so that our Savior would render a reason, not from any one person of the blessed Trinity, but from the Divine nature, why we should worship in spirit.” Remember what he told the woman, “God is spirit, those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
Okay, so this is, it’s because of his nature, why we should worship him in spirit, ‘therefore’ makes use of the word God, the being, a spirit being common to the other persons with the father. So, two things, by way of meaning, to say God is spirit. First of all, by way of negation. God is not material. He is not corporeal. That is, to, to say he doesn’t have a body. Luke 24:39. “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.” Acts 17:28 to 29, also.
Listen to this from Charnock, again. When we, okay, so here it is, “When we say God is a spirit, it is a negation; he is not a body; he consists not of various parts, extended without and beyond another. He is not a spirit, so as our souls are, to be the form of any body, a spirit, not as angels and souls are, but infinitely higher.”
“We call him so, because, in regard of our weakness, we have not any other term of excellency to express or conceive of him by; we transfer it to God in honor, because spirit is the highest excellency in our nature: yet we must apprehend God above any spirit, since his nature is so great that he cannot be declared by human speech, perceived by human sense, or conceived by human understanding.”
Think about what he just said there. God is, by his nature, is so great that he cannot be declared by human speech, perceived by human sense, or conceived by human understanding. So, when you hear people say, ‘Worship in church was so wonderful today, I just felt God’s presence.’ You know that is an outright contradiction. You cannot perceive with your senses the presence of God. Okay. Is that, are we in agreement there?
Audience: Yes. Yes.
Travis: Anybody in disagreement?
Audience: So what would it mean if Jesus showed up next to you? You can’t perceive. I can understand.
Travis: I can perceive that because he’s in a body.
Travis: Right. Right now is God’s presence here.
Audience: Yeah. Yes.
Travis: You feel it?
Travis: No, but if I walk outside, is his presence there?
Audience: Yes. Right.
Travis: I feel it.
Audience: You know? God comes in like the whisper.
Travis: What’s that?
Audience: God came in the whisper, not in the wind and all that, and he got.
Travis: Yeah. He’s, he’s, he’s, projecting using the stirring of natural elements that he created. Right? When he came down onto the, onto, mont, Mount Sinai in flame and fire, and thunder and lightning. What was that? Thunder and Lightning, flame and fire. David?
Audience: Well, I’m just thinking, I think the first chapter of Tozer, he, he, I thought the whole point of that book was to encourage what he called the conscious personal awareness of God and in that, it was conscious, so the conscious part, he, he argued that the presence of God was, there was a sense in which you could know the presence of God in contrast to not knowing it. And, and, and, so I think that is different than just the omnipresence of God, knowing that he’s all, all.
Travis: You could talk about that in terms of relational or non-relational knowing. You know?
Travis: There’s a sense also too, of holiness. The sense of awe and majesty. But that’s more of like a conscious awareness, that’s something spirit to spirit rather than sense perception. That’s what I’m trying to say. We don’t see, taste, touch. In order to do that it had to be Jesus who made the invisible God visible.
Audience: So, I heard a word from God is incorrect.
Travis: Yes, yes, yes. You’re just messing with me, aren’t you? Just Checking. You.
Audience: So, to what extent, cause like, what, to what extent can our, I don’t probably don’t know how to ask this, but so it’s like a charismatic would respond by saying: ‘No, I said, that I don’t sense him with my senses. I sense him, sp, with spiritual things; in my emotions or whatever’. And that’s not right. But, but, like, how?
Travis: Why isn’t it right? Prove that to me.
Audience: No. I’m going to ask you a question.
Travis: This, my friends, is what it is to be related to the question. Go ahead.
Audience: So, so to what extent can our spiritual nature or perceive or experience or know God’s presence and what does that look like? Is it, is it a, is it intellectual? Is it, is it like a, I know God is this, I know he’s in this room, but I can’t feel that like.
Travis: Yeah. So, I think when Jesus said, “If you know me, you’ll obey me. If you know me, you love me. If you love me, you’ll keep my commandments.” If there is spiritual life in us and we know the father, we know Jesus Christ. There’s fruit of the spirit coming out. There’s a, there’s a demonstraful fruit that you can see in a person’s life. But as far as that, spirit to spirit, I don’t know how to describe that. I’m not sure if I’m getting what you’re asking, but,
Audience: Basic, basically, don’t. The, the take away is don’t try to perceive something like you normally do. Just know that when you’re obeying Scripture, it may not be something you can feel, but it’s, that’s evidence that,
Travis: I think feelings do come after, though. I don’t want to deny feelings. They’re part of who we are. You know? But,
Audience: Excuse me.
Travis: But they’re not the sole determiner or even a, a, completely accurate determiner of whether or not we know, sense God.
Audience: Basically, don’t go beyond Scripture in looking for the evidence.
Travis: Yeah, yeah. Don’t be like a Pagan trying to, trying to feel and sense him with our perceptions and create a false God.
Audience: So let me ask this?
Travis: But by the way, I want to tell you, I have one more thing to get to. I’ve, I’ve, talked about what he is by way of negation. I need to talk about a little positive affirmation too. So, go ahead.
Audience: So, so, yeah. By negation is what I was kind of getting at, is I guess, is we can’t perceive him, but can we, could we perceive his absence, like if he’s all of a sudden gone, which you can’t be. But that’s eternal death. But, that’s eternal death. So yeah.
Travis: If he was, if he was all of a sudden gone and God was not, then we’re not.
Audience: Yeah. Right. I, I, understand. So that’s a weird question.
Travis: That’s a bad day right there.
Audience: That would be bad day. It’s a weird question, but,
Travis: It is.
Audience: But you see what I’m where I’m going with that is in a way, because, because, like, you can’t perceive a lot of things like right now it’s very difficult to perceive the air in the room,
Travis, Uh Huh.
Audience: Bad analogy. But if it was gone?
Travis: We’d perceived that.
Audience: We’d perceived that.
Travis: Yeah. God told the Athenians, “In him we live and move and have our being.”
Audience: Right. So, without him, would just be non-existence.
Audience: Bu, what? Well, no,
Travis: Wouldn’t be non-existence.
Audience: Not really, because we’d be in hell. Right.
Travis: No. Without God? If they’re there is
Audience: So even in hell.
Audience: So Just nothing.
Audience: God is even in hell, right?
Travis: Yeah. He’s the presence.
Audience: I mean, that exists because of him. Yeah.
Travis: And, and be careful how you say, God is in hell.
Audience: Right. Expect that imprecise speech.
Travis: We’re shoved into it all the time, aren’t we? We trip ourselves, like wait a minute. God’s omnipresent nature.
Travis: Hell is basically within living and moving habits. It’s being in God. Don’t know how to put it. I want to affirm one thing here. First, so first, by way of negation, to say God is spirit, that is to say God’s not material or corporeal.
Second, by way of affirmation, God’s being is invisible spirit. But even as we say that, we’re still, we can only think in terms of negation of what he does not have. Right? It’s hard. John. I mentioned John 4:24, Colossians 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 11:27. Someone, somebody look up those real quick. Colossians 1:15.
Audience: Okay, I got that one.
Travis: Okay, someone look up 1 Timothy 1:17. Then Hebrews 11:27. Guys, read them. So God’s ‘being’ is invisible spirit. That’s the affirmation we’re making here.
Audience: “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation.”
Travis: Okay. “He,” that is Christ, “is the image of the invisible God.” He is the visible of what is invisible. He’s the,
Audience: Yeah. He seems like..
Travis: Seems like it’s, it’s paradoxical, isn’t it? What about 1 Timothy 1:7, uh, 1:17?
Audience: This is a great list of attributes.
Travis: Isn’t it?
Audience: “Now to the king eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory, forever and ever, amen.”
Travis: Good. That awesome. Who’s got Hebrews 11:27?
Audience: “By faith he left Egypt not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.”
Travis: Okay, good. As seen, like seeing, but not seeing. “No one can see me and live.” So, listen to this again from Charnock. This is just on the affirmation of him being invisible spirit. God being invisible spirit. “Spiritual substances are more,” isn’t that funny to say, spiritual substance? Even Charnock is forced into contradictory language. Okay.
“Spiritual substances are more excellent than bodily; the soul of man more,” excellence, “excellent than other animals; angels more excellent than men. They contain, in their own nature, whatsoever dignity there is in the inferior creatures; God must have, therefore, an excellency above all those, and, therefore, is entirely remote from the conditions of a body. It is a gross conceit, therefore, to think that God is such a spirit as the air is; for that is, for that is to be a body as the air is, though it be a thin one.” Right? Air is something.
Travis: Matter. “And if God were no more a spirit than that, or than angels, he would not be the most simple being.” That is, he would have parts. There would be, you know, what is air, right? Isn’t nitrogen and oxygen?
Audience: Yeah. Yes.
Travis: Okay, mostly?
Travis: And, then, here in Greeley, some other gases. So, yet, “It’s something that the spiritual deity was represented by the air in the Ark of the Testament. It was unlawful to represent him by any image that God had prohibited. Everything about the Arc had particular signification, the gold and other ornaments about it, signified something of Christ.
“But we’re unfit to represent the nature of God, I think, purely invisible, and falling under nothing of sense could not represent him to the mind of man. The air in the Ark was the fittest. It represented the invisibility of God’s air being imperceptible to our eyes.
“Air diffuses itself through all parts of the world. It glides through the secret passages into all creatures. It fills the space between heaven and earth. There is no place where, in God, is not present.” Isn’t that interesting I, I never really thought about the Ark of the Covenant that way. I think about all the things in the Ark and the temple and everything signifying something about God, something about his truth.
And he’s even talking about the, it’s the air within the Ark, the fact that it’s a box, inside it’s meant to contain something. And there’s air, not only the law of Moses, and the budding staff of Aaron, and all that, but some of the manna, but the air inside signifies what God is like. That’s an interesting way to think about it.
So, negation, God is not material. It doesn’t have a body. Second, by way of affirmation, invisible spirit. Now the, infer, inference from this, yeah, we need to stop. I’ll, I’ll just, I’ll just mention real quick, the, from the fact of God’s spiritual nature, his life-giving nature, other attributes of God are not only inferred, but they’re also clearly attested to in Scripture.
So, we talk about simplicity, aseity, infinity, eternity. We can, talk, talk about all those, but those are all inferred and affirmed by the fact that God is living being, and he is spiritual being. He’s spirit. Okay. That’s where we’re close for now.
Father, thank you for this morning’s study. We thank you for the things, things about you that we’re trying to grapple with and understand. We realize that you are far beyond our, our, full comprehension and that’s, that’s, what we, I think we step into every sun, every time we open the word. There’s a profundity. A grandeur about you, a splendor that we can’t fully grasp.
We thank you for the opportunity this morning to talk about things that are too great for us. And we pray, father, that you would take the things we’ve tried to talk about with regard to you and your, your, essence and your, your being and you would help us to, to think of you in ways that we haven’t before, and to maybe confront some errors of thinking that we’ve had about you. You’d help us to communicate these things accurately to, to, other people.
Thank you again for just the opportunity to be fulfilling our purposes, as men, to image you to the world around us; and that, that really comes through our apprehension of truth; our reflecting and meditating upon the truths, our worshipping you, and then speaking rightly about you to others, whether it’s in evangelism or discipleship. And please help us to fulfill that role and to glorify you. And to enjoy you forever. Thank you again for these men, in this study this morning. In Jesus name, Amen.