Travis: This, this study of God, theology proper, we’ve divided God’s attributes, as we’ve said, into two, basically the attributes two categories: the attributes of greatness and the attributes of glory, or goodness, I’m sorry, can’t stop thinking about his glory. So, attributes of greatness and attributes of goodness. Okay, greatness and goodness.
In talking about God’s greatness, we’ve looked at his greatness as those attributes that pertain, first of all, to God as immortal spirit. And that’s the section we’re in right now that I, I, hope to kind of button up for next time, next time. And then we’re going to get into those attributes that pertain secondly to God as creator. Okay, so God as immortal spirit and then God as creator.
Last time we talked about God as Immortal Spirit. As the living God he’s revealed by, as such, by his name which is Yahweh; that is, I, you know he’s the, the ever present, I AM, never changing. He’s immortal spirit. Out of him being Yahweh immortal spirit, we see this cascading of attributes that come out of his spiritual essence. Since God is immortal, since he’s life-giving spirit there, there, are certain truths that we understand from that.
That’s, this is where we stopped last time, is in talking about one of those which is divine simplicity. This doctrine of divine simplicity is so basic and so foundational to our understanding of God that, understanding this doctrine of simplicity, or at least, as I said apprehending it, or at least appreciating it. Appreciating what, what, we’re trying to affirm about God here; is gonna be foundational for many of the other doctrines that we cover as well.
If we don’t, if we don’t get divine simplicity right, there’s a lot that unravels. If we get divine simplicity right and understand that, there’s a large view of God, as he really is and, and, and, some of the other attributes make sense. They just flow right out of that. Okay.
So that’s, I want to spend a little bit of time trying to massage this, this, in. Okay? So we talked about attributes of God’s greatness, God as immortal spirit, we’re going to talk about God as creator. I guess coming in June, we’ll start to get into that. As immortal spirit, we said he’s a life-giving spirit.
We talked about divine aseity. Remember that term? We talked that refers to; Anybody remember what that refers to? Divine aseity.
Travis: Independence, good. So, independence or self-existence, self-sufficiency. We also talked about his immortality, that is God is not subject to death, but rather he is life giving, John 5:26, ”As the father has life in himself, even so he was granted that the Son has life in himself.” So, there’s life in God. So, he’s life-giving spirit. Then we also talked about God, his life-giving spirit.
We also talked about God is one. Okay? So, the oneness of God’s essence speaks to singularity, which we said affirms monotheism. There is only one God. Also, it refers to a singular uniqueness. We might say his Holiness. He is set apart. There is no one like him. Okay. Then also this more profound reality of divine simplicity.
So, singularity, monotheism, uniqueness, and then simplicity, that’s all comes out of this concept that God is one and that is affirmed in the Shema of Israel, “Hear O Israel, the Lord, our God, The Lord is one.” Again, these concepts go way back, don’t they?
Divine simplicity is understood from the fact of the unity of God and thus the indivisibility of God. Okay? So the unity of God and thus the indivisibility of God. You cannot divide God up. So, God’s being is therefore simple, as in, not complex. And you say, well, God seems pretty complex to me.
It’s hard to, I was talking with Daniel the other night; we were just talking about it. Boy, this is really complex. No, I said no, no, it’s simple. It’s we, we use the term simple to talk about something that’s easy. Right? God is not easy. We’re not saying God’s easy to understand. We’re not saying the theology isn’t difficult. It is a challenge at times. But that’s affirmed in what we’ve already said. That God is fundamentally incomprehensible to us.
So we understand there’s going to be some difficulty in getting our minds wrapped around God, because we can’t get our minds, ultimately, wrapped around God. He is too great, he is too large, too immense. In, so there’s an incomprehensibility that we understand going into this task of theology.
But when we say that God is simple and not complex, we’re basically saying that God is not a composite being. That is to say, he’s not made-up of parts. Not just material parts like body parts, but any parts, so parts like attributes. God is not the sum total of all his attributes, like eternality, plus omniscience, plus immutability, plus holiness, plus goodness, plus wisdom, and all the rest, and add that all together and it equals God. Okay. That’s not what we’re saying. So, you can’t think of God’s attributes as different parts of God, in that sense.
We are composite beings, body and spirit, at the very least, right? So, we can’t help but think of our world in terms of a composite nature to it, and that is what creation is. It is a series of composite things. Things that are joined together. Little building blocks starting with atoms and maybe even before atoms, there’s some other subatomic particles and some other essence holding all that together. The life of God? I don’t know.
So, we can’t help but think of our world and thus think of God in terms of compositeness. You know, we, we, will accidentally at times project that upon God. We just need to be critical in our thinking to say, okay, I know I just said God is this, and this, and this, but I don’t mean he’s this, and this, and he is one. He is simple; simplicity, and unity, and indivisibility. He’s not composite. So we, we, remember that even though we sometimes speak of him as having different separate attributes.
Okay. So we want to be forgiving with each other, if you know, you, ‘boy, God is so complex.’ ‘Hey, wait, you are preaching heresy.’ No, we don’t want to jump down each other’s throats.
Audience: So we can still say, ‘God is’.
Audience: Scripture says, God is, that we got to seek that as we can’t divide that. You know when you say God is, God is love, God is this.
Travis: Right. Well, we don’t ever want to say things like or allow, allow people to say, I like the God of the New Testament, but the God of the Old Testament, not so much. And we’re going to understand why, as we get through this, Lord willing, get through this lesson, you know, to talk about how he’s immutable.
There’s an unchanging nature of God. He’s not, he’s not the God of the new and the old and all that. He’s all. He’s God. He is, as you just said, you affirmed: I am, Yahweh. You know he is. So, we are composite beings. We can’t help but see God that way. But we have to back up and recognize and just have a critical understanding of our own thought process here, that no, God is not fractured into component parts, even if those parts are immaterial parts, so to speak. God is one.
The fact, if, if, we back up and just look at ourselves as composite beings, that implies the fact that we’re composite beings. Let’s just say of body and spirit, material, immaterial. It implies, of necessity, that an outside, greater being is our composer. Right? There’s something that put us together. That knit us together in our mother’s womb, so to speak. The, the, one who put all of our parts together, we understand, is God.
So if we say that God is composed of all his attributes, if we say he is, he is holiness, and he is justice, and he is omniscience, and he is omnipotence, and you, you, knit all those together. Wait a minute. So who knit all those together? Who’s the composer of all God’s composite parts? Can’t have anything beyond God, right? Because if it were, if there were something beyond, outside of God, that made God to be God, well then that’s God.
We got to back up and say, well, more foundationally the composer of all the composite parts of God is the actual God. And we’re actually worshipping an idol, if we, you understand what I’m saying? So, we’re saying that there is nothing that is not God, that made God to be God. We’re saying there, there, was no composer that put God together. Okay? So, we like to say, “God is all of his attributes”; or we can put it another way: “All that is in God is God.” That’s, that’s, where we were last time, as I saw a lot of blank looks on your face. And so I’ve not had enough coffee.
“All that is in God is God.” John Owen puts it this way: “The attributes of God, which alone seem to be distinct things in the essence of God.” Here’s the statement. “Are all of them essentially the same with one another, and everyone the same with the essence of God itself.” Okay, so the attributes of God: Are God; Is God. Is? which verb do you use? verb.
Audience: You have to use all those things at the same time.
Travis: It’s really hard to do. So Owen, Owen said, the attribute, here’s the statement again from John Owen, “The attributes of God, which alone seemed to be distinct things in the essence of God.” Thank you, John Owen, for affirming what we all feel. They seem this way. “The attributes of God, which alone seem to be distinct things in the essence of God are all of them essentially the same with one another, and everyone the same with the essence of God itself.”
He gives two explanations to help us understand that. First, this is quoting him, first, they are spoken of one. Spoke, okay. Back up, I’m already misquoting him. Okay, quote, “For, first, they are spoken one of another as well as of God; as there is his ‘eternal power’ as well as his ‘Godhead’.” Okay, so he puts eternal power; Godhead. He’s talking about Romans 1:20, his eternal power, divine nature.
So that is to say we think of eternality as a singular attribute, right? We also think of power or on, omnipotence as a singular attribute, and yet we see that one is describing the other. And that’s the same thing with all of his attributes. All of his attributes can, can, describe, and define, and, and modify one another; in the sense that all of his so, so, the quality of being etern, eternal or, inf, infinite, limitless in nature, they all describe one another. How can they do that unless they’re actually of a piece? They’re all the same. Okay?
“Secondly,” here’s John Owen, “they are either infinite and infinitely perfect, or they are not. If they are [infinite], then if they are not the same with God, then there are more things infinite than one, and consequently more Gods;” okay, “for that which is absolutely infinite is absolutely perfect, and consequently God. If they are not infinite,” he’s talking about these attributes, “If they’re not infinite, then God knows not himself, or a finite wisdom cannot know perfectly an infinite being.”
So we are saying that all of his attributes are all infinite. If they are infinite, then they, they, must be the same with God, because you can’t have God is infinite and another thing is infinite. Otherwise, you have two separate things that are both infinite. And then two, two, competing God essences, if you will. Okay?
So, in other words, and I’m not quoting Owen here, any and every statement of attribution, of attribution, we make about God refers to something about his essence that is both infinite and infinitely perfect. So, the qualities of infinitude and infinite perfection must be one and the same with the essence of God.
That’s why we can speak, we, we, can speak rightly about God in using one attribute to describe the other, like eternal power, infinite goodness, unchanging wisdom, limitless knowledge. The reason we can say those kinds of things, and make those kinds of statements, is because all that is in God is God. God is essentially the same with all of his attributes. Okay.
Now it would seem to us, and here’s kind of where we’re rounding out to where we were last time, just to summarize this again. It would seem to us, as Owen says, it would appear to us, that God’s power is not his wisdom, is not his goodness, is not his eternity, and so on. It would seem to us that these are separate things. But if God is simple, if his being is not dependent upon component parts that are ontologically more basic than the entire fullness of his being, then all the things we say about him have to be identical in him.
So we’re asking the question, are we saying then that, God’s individual attributes are actually one in the same reality. And the answer to that question is yes, we are. That’s exactly what we’re saying. It’s all the same reality, all the same essence. Now we understood that ‘mind scrambling’ kind of a statement, by making a comparison to a single beam of light that passes through a prism and then is refracted into individual, what appears to us, as beams of color.
The individual, though the individual parts of the beam are perceived by us as different colors, all the properties of light exist perfectly and without change from the original unrefracted beam of light. So it’s the same light on each side of the prism, same properties, same light, just perceived differently by our eyes. And that’s kind of like the way it is with God. Does that make sense?
Okay, so the prism for us is God’s creation. The light of God’s essence passes through that prism of creation and refracts to us in display of the perfections of the glory of the divine essence. So God’s invisible essence, his holiness, his justice, his love, his goodness, he’s, his eternity, his omnipotence, etcetera. All of those are like manifold colors refracted from a single beam of light through the prism of creation. Okay?
Does that make sense, at least as far as we’ve been able to go there? Okay, good. We now can read some very familiar texts with new meaning or with fuller meaning. I could say; not new, but fuller. First, John 1:5. John tells us, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaimed to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all.”
And I love that metaphor or analogy or illustration of God as light. His essence passes through this prism and becomes to us refracted in manifold perfections, manifold attributes, and we say, wow, look at our God. Behold our God. But we need to not make the mistake that he is divided into parts. We understand that if we pass back through that prism of creation, back before time began, God is essentially one. Simplicity.
In the very beginning, God, 1:3. That’s why, “God said let there be light and there was light. God saw that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness.” Keep in mind, God said, “let there be light” before there was any so-called light source that we recognize as a light source. The only source; No sun, no moon, no stars, nothing like that. The only source was God. And amazingly, even then at the very, very beginning, he was teaching us something about his essence: That “I am light.”
So, at the very end, the new heaven and the new Earth, when the New Jerusalem descends to earth from heaven, revolution, Revelation 22, four to five tells us, God’s servants, that’s us; we will see his face. “Night will be no more.” It says there, “They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” I love that. That’s a repeat of Revelation 21:23. “The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the lamb.”
And, and, again think about that. “God is light”, Ja, 1 John 1:5. “He said in the beginning let there be light.” Genesis 1:3; Revelation 21 and 22, “There will be no more sun or moon, for the city has no need of light because God is its light.” But then also we realized that, “the lamp is the lamb.”
So, in other words, the glory of God shines. That’s the word, photizo. So, there’s this ‘out of its own essence’ shining forth is going on, the gou, it says, God gives it light, or God shines, photizo. His essence is the light source, but the lamp by which we see is still the lamp. That is to say, Jesus is still doing his stated purpose in, first, in John 1, John 1:18 to reveal to us the father all the time, all through eternity he’s gonna continue being the lamp that points our way to help us understand this light that’s shining. Isn’t that cool?
So for all eternity, Jesus Christ remains our eternal guide to seeing and learning the glory of God. That helps us understand another passage, what Paul says, in 2 Corinthians 4, three to six, and this sort of ties all of this together. “Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the God of this world has blinded the minds of,” of, “the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Audience: What passage was that?
Travis: That’s 2 Corinthians 4:3 to 6. So, all of this you, you, find in that passage, 2 Corinthians 4, you find all this coming together in the relation between God, as the essence, and Christ, as the revealer of God to us. He’s the one who gives light to us. God said, “Let light shine out of darkness” And God has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
The one who is going to be our interpreter of God, our, the, the, lamp, so to speak, so we can see this essence of God shining throughout all of eternity. He’s going to be our interpreter forever. Isn’t that neat?
So, simplicity of God, his essence passing through the prism of creation, reflacted, refracted to us in manifold color, manifold perfections, manifold attributes. But at the, ss, but back at the source, he is the same essence; Unity of essence, simplicity, no fracturing, no composite nature, but simple essence. Okay?
All that was review and we need to remember that this is basic. It is, it’s foundational teaching about the nature of God. It’s as old as Moses who taught Israel to confess, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God. The Lord is one.” And, also, it’s as old as Genesis 1:3. “God said let there be light.” He’s already teaching us, giving us analogy to understand his essence, right there, at the very beginning, with the very first words of proclamation. Very first words of creation.
Now I want to say this, and this is where I’d like us to, like you to interact a little bit. Simply knowing this truth is not enough. Okay? James 2:19 says. You know, James says, “You believe that God is one.” All this stuff we’ve talked about, which we think is so heady, and profound, and deep, and amazing, which it is. But James rebukes us, if we think that that’s enough to know that. He says, “you believe that God is one,” hey great, “you do well, even the demons believe and shudder.”
So, let’s think like a shepherds do. Why is believing that ‘God is one,’ of these amazing things we’ve been talking about, about, God? Why is believing that ‘God is one,’ not enough? What else is required here? So that we don’t fall under the same condemnation as the demons; what else is required?
Audience: Walking in the light? Yeah. Yeah.
Travis: OK, unpack that a little bit. What do you mean by walking in the light?
Audience: Comes with what James says about being doers of the word, not just hears.
Travis: Okay, good. Doers of the word, not hearers, being obedient. And just second, Daniel?
Audience: Yeah, I, I, was just going to say obedient as well. I mean, so the demons, they, they, understand that concept too, but they don’t take action upon it. They don’t, they don’t, they’re not gonna follow along.
Travis: There’s one action or reaction, they shudder, right?
Audience: Yeah. But to not repent and then, and then stay faithful and obedient.
Travis: Okay, good. So the repentance. So there is no repentance in the demonic realm. Right? John?
Audience: Well and as far as that goes the demons couldn’t repent if they wanted to.
Travis: Couldn’t. Yeah. They’re, they’re locked in their state, aren’t they?
Audience: It is we have that. We can repent, but of course we can’t repent unless God gives us that ability to repent. So even living the life or whatever we do, the only way we can do that is through Christ in the power of Christ. And even in understanding a lot of this, I think it has a different meaning for the believer and his understanding and what that means to him, as opposed to an unbeliever who probably isn’t even going to begin to comprehend it, in the sense that we can, since we have Christ and the Holy Spirit to bring that along.
Travis: Yeah, totally. Yeah. Granted. That’s very true that there is, there is a, you could say a deeper meaning. I mean; Are the demons more intelligent than us as humans? Yes, they are there. There’s a, there’s a great intelligence that they have, a great knowledge that they have, and yet there is a meaning that they do not apprehend, like we do. Same thing with the angels. There’s, there are things about our salvation ‘into which angels long to look’ and understand, but they are not the targets of redemption like we are. There’s something glorious about this thing that God has done for us that elevates us to just a little below the angels, right?
So. You talked about repentance and obedience and, and, all that. What’s? Again, what is it that, that, and that does distinguish us from the demonic belief; belief in that sense. They believe, in a sense, but it’s a belief that only goes so far. We’ll talk about that in a second. But what is more foundational; separating us than, than, even obedience and repentance, which is a part of obedience and repentance, we might say it motivates obedience, and repentance.
Audience: Separates us from worship.
Travis: To separate us from the demons or basically anybody that doesn’t, that understands that God is one, but doesn’t obey and repent. 1 John 1:7.
Audience:1 John 1:7, It says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship”, I just lost it, “With one another, and the blood of Jesus his son cleanses us from all sin.” So, knowing the light is great, walking in the light, obeying the truth, the light, repenting from our sins, and then we have fellowship with all the other folks who’ve done that also.
Travis: Great. So, again, back to walking in the light; obedience and repentance. What is it that and you, you’ve alluded to it and what in quoting that verse; what is it that that drives that?
Audience: Are you talking about regeneration? Worship.
Travis: Regeneration is fundamental. Yes, and that, that is, that is fundamental, and I, yes, worship. Worship, adoration, in which Gary alluded to; “If we walk in the light as he is in the light, the blood of his son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” What does that do for us, if not cause us to bow on our knees in humble adoration. Say thank you. Gratitude. David, do you want to say more?
Audience: Yes, I was going to elaborate on that a little bit, because I was just thinking about this and we talked about this I think couple months ago, talking about revelation. That there’s an inherent accountability and responsibility, in, in God’s revelation. And so theology, being the queen of the sciences, is not like other sciences, in that you, you can just kind of impact, or kind of like, passively or impassionately study them and try to remain some kind of objectivity, you know.
And just, I’m going to observe this, and, I’m going to go tell someone else about it or something like that. There’s, there’s, there’s, more to it than that and Ezra 7, 7:10. The, the, the progression for Ezra, that he says, His heart to study, do and teach.
Travis: But, but, even though the first thing he did there is what? Set his heart.
Audience: Right and, but my point is that theology is set, is different from other sciences that other, other, sciences, for instance, you could just study and teach. But with theology and with our relationship and fellowship with the Lord and worship. There’s that, that middle term, there’s a responsibility, we have to do with that.
In fact, if you go to the theology and you do nothing more than study and teach, you will be found out and, and, you, you, will be a failure as a teacher and everything. Everything hinges on, on, bowing down and worshipping. There’s some great botanists out there that really don’t care about plants, but they are really good at Botany.
Travis: And that’s an excellent point. I, I, was thinking the same thing with regard to the Medical Sciences. They don’t set their heart to study the sciences and then teach it; You know, even obey it and teach it, because, they, you can see the things that they know and the way they live don’t always correspond. Sometimes you go into a hospital and the nurses are some of the unhealthiest people you find, and yet they’re all rebuking you about your, about your, cholesterol. What’s that?
Audience: You find more people out back smoking at the hospital?
Travis: Exactly. They, they, they know, they know the cancer-causing attributes, outcome.
Audience: it’s always boggled my mind.
Travis: But, but, it just points to our inherent inconsistencies and not always line up with what we know. We know something to be true and yet we don’t live that way. So, they’re not having to set their hearts to study all the laws of science. And then to obey them and to do them, they’re just setting their minds to study, because it’s a job, it’s a living, after all. And so, then they teach that.
But how they have set their hearts is to pursue their own lusts and pleasures, and they obey their own lusts and pleasures. So, there’s a total inconsistency. Now, have you ever met somebody who’s taught theology this way?
Audience: Yes, Yes, I have.
Travis: Yeah, yeah. And you can’t always tell right away. Sometimes it takes time to see that. But boy, there’s a, there’s a dry, dispassionate approach to the theology. It’s, it’s no wonder, people, theology gets a bad rap because of people like that; who teach it without any joy; without any passion. Lee?
Audience: I was just going to add to what Daniel said, though, it’s the regeneration that makes that even possible. We will fundamentally go with our nature. Our nature is not regenerate. Our nature is always towards our own selfishness and our sinfulness. And we cannot move toward God.
Travis: That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. How many and I think, you know, I wonder how many pulpits are filled with unregenerate preachers, pastors. How many seminaries are filled with unregenerate theologians?
Audience: Honestly speaking, I think we would cry if we found out.
Travis: Yeah, I know, I know. So, you can’t change the world. We can only start with ourselves and work with our own influence and that’s, praise God we, we, get to do that here. We get to do that together. It’s really cool. So, I saw another hand.
Audience: Yeah, I was thinking, kind of to build off what Lee said. Another, another, way that we work; that we have to walk in this and not just, you know be hearers, but doers. Is we’re, you know, as we’re studying and worshipping God, and in his simplicity and everything, we’re kind of, we’re kind of overwhelmed by that. And we also are drawn to, we’re to imitate him and that means all of his attributes at once.
And we’re to become all of, all of, the well, all of the communicable attributes. Yeah. Like the we’re to, we’re to live those things out. And just as we’re even trying to wrap our minds around this, it’s absolutely an impossible task for us. And the starting point has to be, that we are united to Christ, in the faith and saved, to even be able to start walking that way.
Travis: Yeah, that’s really good. So I, I, actually want to take what you’ve just said and use it as a segue for kind of asking this next question is: How do we practically live as shepherds, you know, we’re theologians, mind and shepherds in our hearts. How does the doctrine of divine simplicity affect the way we think as shepherds? So, what does obedience to God as immortal spirit, simple essence look like practically? So, yeah, I’ll just ask that question though. So, yeah, Wayne?
Audience: What, you know our experience of being constantly in the word, first of all. Right. And, and, part of that experience should be the, I’m not sure how to, I don’t know if you renewed all, right, but the, the, the, the joy and the, the, the, refreshed view of coming into contact with these concepts over, and over, and over again, right, you know is when, when, you look at that oneness that we have trouble comprehending, and you see the individual facets, right, it should generate a response in us continually.
Travis: Yeah, not like the demons with shuddering, cowering, you know, shrieking, as we run away. But with a, you, what did you call it, a renewed awe. Yeah, I like that. That’s, that’s right and, and, each time we come to the Scripture with that sense of awe, and when we don’t, when we don’t find that, to pray that God would soften our hard hearts and open our dull minds to, to we..
Listen reading the Bible, we need his spirit to open up the truth to us. We need Jesus all the time as the lamp to shine the light on the path for us, every time we go to scripture. You, you, I’m no doubt you’ve had the same experience I’ve had of going into the scripture, and it’s just like, I am dead to this right now. I, I’m not sensing. I’m not learning. I’m just reading words. And, and, I have to, when I notice that, when you do notice that, stop and pray. Beg God to, to, reveal himself to you, to, to, let his spirit take away the scales and, and, he will. He will answer that prayer. He rejoices to answer prayer. Gary and Bruce.
Audience: I was just thinking what Christ says, you know, I’ve come to do thy will. And basically, our problem as Christians, is, is our will seems to shout much louder than his and so how do I continue to pray that; God, how do I learn to die to myself, here.
Travis: I think, and I think back to what Wayne said about that renewed awe, to realize that the will of this great God in, in, light of that; what is our will; what is our plan? When, how, how is our thinking so much greater? Yeah, it, it, it, puts our will, and our plans, and our desires, and affections into sharp contrast with the will of the Almighty, that we would say, what? What am I? What is man that you are mindful of. Bruce?
Audience: I guess this thought comes to my mind, and maybe I’ve been shaped by too many movies, but clinging to the cross that’s got blood on it, dripping down, and myself clinging to the bottom of that cross.
Travis: But what, so what does that, how does that then translate into practical? You’re, you’re, just saying that with the devotion and that to, to..
Audience: Exactly. I think, okay, Christ paid, you know, basically, the penalty for my sins and he was crucified for that and I need to cling to that sometimes. And it’s right sometimes when you feel like the storms of, of, deceit, the storms of, of, discouragement come along; I need to cling to that cross and rather than other things, because that’s where my hope and my salvation come from, for what Jesus did for me.
Travis: Yeah. Yeah, that’s right. It’s interesting how you said that, Bruce, because there is, when you think of, if you actually did that, like wrapping your arms around that rough hewn wood, getting splinters in yourself. You talked about blood flowing. The blood that covers us, is blood. It’s not pretty. There’s nothing, there’s nothing that’s, like emotionally stirring about that.
And like, you know, the catholic sense, like, if you’ve seen the ‘Passion of the Christ,’ it’s like this moving, aaahhh, you know, that kind of thing. It’s, there’s nothing really, it’s gory, this, this, cross, this blood. It’s a gory thing.
So there’s nothing that’s, like, attractive in and of itself, other than the, the, reality of what’s been done there. And that, that, goes right to the mind and to the spirit and drives us to a devotion that’s beyond the physical. Right? Physically speaking, it’s all pretty repellent. But spiritually speaking, it’s absolutely life giving. Back to what Nicholas was saying about how do we, how do we put this divine simplicity doctrine into practical effect? Lee.
Audience: I was just going to say that, one of the things that is struck me when people make a profession of faith that I’ve looked for, we try to look for the fruit of the spirit. But the one thing that I see in the lives of those whom I really believe are born again is humility.
There’s a humbleness that comes in. It’s a humility that doesn’t mean they lose strength as man, that doesn’t mean they don’t assert themselves in certain situations, but it does mean, that at the bottom line there’s a willingness to, to, rest in God and allow him and his sovereignty to work in situations.
I think of Moses, when Miriam and Aaron mumbled against him and, and, he did not say a word and God said, you three appear before me tomorrow morning and he sorted all that out. And there’s something about the humility of it all and that is, is, that strikes across the board in all of man’s activities. My willingness to be humble in certain sits, in, in situations, I think. Does that make sense?
Travis: Absolutely, it makes sense. And what you’re describing, I think, is th, th, that attribute of meekness that we, that we just put on display when we’re at rest in God. And you think just what a great illustration of that with Miriam and Aaron turning on Moses. Here, here, Moses has been in charge of this rabble, who they continually want him dead, stone him, go back to Egypt.
And he’s dealing with this all the time, and he’s falling on his face before God. But at least he’s got Aaron and Miriam. He can always count on their loyalty. I mean they are family, after all, and they are fellow prophets and prophetess. And, of course, they’re going to get it. They’ll never turn on me. And all of a sudden. He’s left alone. You know, alone. But he’s not alone. He’s never alone.
He stand, as you said, he didn’t answer a word; he just stood with God, that that’s enough. And that does cause us to silence our mouths and, and, settle our hearts. That is a practical demonstration of, in what you just said about Moses, perfect humility and meekness with, with, people, with situations, with circumstances. We’re not, just, we’re completely unflappable. We’re completely at ease, in God. Content, in him, at rest. Even sad; we can be sad, but never completely perplexed. Yeah, Gary.
Audience: I’m just thinking, too, what Scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” There’s no way that we’re going to comprehend what God really wants us to comprehend, even from the Word. If there’s kind of an attitude of pride or anything else. If God’s resisting us, that’s kind of a scary thought. You’re limiting what we’re capable of learning about him, because of that.
Travis: Have you ever heard somebody, who like a Christian, you know, a true Christian, but they, they, they, tout one attribute over and against another. You know, this, this is, this is the love guy, here’s the wrath guy, here’s the justice guy, here’s this guy. And what of those attributes, kind of like the, the, reason they like those so much, is it gonna, you got some kind of like psychological hang up with those issues or they got something in their character that kind of naturally makes them more friendly and so they’re the humility guy, you know, the meekness guy, or whatever.
They’re more amiable and, and, affable and so they, they, like the kindness part of God and so they, they, kind of tout that all the time and judge everybody based on their failure to measure up to their own. And what Nicholas is saying is, and this is where this God divine simplicity comes in; is we don’t fracture those attributes and set one attribute, as, against another. All of those things are important.
And so, if you see in your own life; yeah, I tend to be kind toward other people, but I’m not very loving in the sense of confronting them in their sin. That must not be. Or yeah, I go around confronting everybody in their sin, but I am harsh and critical in my spirit; that ought not to be.
All those things, if we see that God is simple, the simplicity of God, that he is all of his attributes, then there isn’t anything in him that is more important or less important than the other. All are important, and so that means repentance must happen in us on all things, all fronts. We can’t prefer one thing over another and say God is; this is the most important thing about God, like love in the New Testament, as opposed to justice in the Old Testament. No. But what is love without justice and justice without love? They’re all vital, yeah.
Audience: And I think for me even, the, since the last time we were in here, it, I realize this, is, such a new concept for me; the idea that his love is his wrath. You know that kind of thing, that all that is God, is God. Then just to meditate on that. You know, on, so try as an exercise, whenever you think of God, to think of, because you think of him in the attributes, then to think of those attributes in relationship to the other attributes of God. That was a good, I think that would be a good lifelong exercise for me.
That was the thought I had because it’s so new to me. It’s so different than the way I think of God or the way I think of anything. Then it does temper everything that you do. You know it, it, it just makes you better and it does make you humble, because it just, it just kind of, it tends, you wouldn’t be the person that has an axe to grind on one thing or another of God. For me that’s a big deal is, is, to not get out of balance on one.
Travis: Yeah, that’s great. That’s really good. That’s and that is the doctrine of, I think, divine simplicity at practically apprehended. And then trying to, we’re trying to live that out. That’s really good. Yeah. Yeah, David.
Audience: I think Ryrie said that, he, his view was that the human soul was also simple. Like, I mean a single like unified. Like, like that’s part of the imago Dei, that the soul is simple. So, his implication was that when, whenever I do something, it’s all of me doing it; It’s not just a part of me doing it. Yeah.
Travis: I just, I want to be careful on that. I really do. I’m not sure, I’m not sure that I want to take that attribute, and, and, the human soul and how is he defining ‘soul’? Because a lot of times soul can refer to the whole person. Life of the person.
Audience: I think he meant the life of the whole person. I’d have to check that.
Travis: Because if we’re referring to the whole person, then now we’re back to composite.
Audience: Well, right. Well, actually, I don’t remember if he said soul. I think, I said soul, actually, because like he said the man is simple, but obviously the man is composite.
Travis: No, man is Composite. And he’s complex, at least in two part and we could probably talk about more.
Audience: Yeah. And so. Yeah, there is a; Well, never mind.
Travis: Yeah. It’s Okay. It’s, it is. It is mind scrambling. But I’m, I’m very loathe to take some of these attributes of God’s greatness and try to see ourselves in, in, that, right there are communicable attributes, which I think is a part of the imago Dei. I’m not sure of that. I, I, am sure that divine simplicity is not a communicable attribute. It’s, it’s, incommunicable. So yeah, I’m careful on that one.
Audience: We got at the same time, everything we do is because of everything we are. So, in other words, the, the, the, the spirit and the body together influence our actions. So our composites help us to become what we are and help us become what we do. But that doesn’t mean we’re simple. That, that, does mean we have one action and everything is, is looking to make that.
Travis: And I think we’re just we’re, we’re, getting into category errors, if we’re trying to take that, that, right there, that, that, attribute and, and, see ourselves in it. And I, I, think that it, kind of, almost, reveals a misunderstanding of the doctrine of divine simplicity; which is not, i, i, it’s not, that’s understandable, there are a number of theologians that either deny it or, or, just don’t get it. They haven’t affirmed it.
It’s been many, many, I think, during the time of the Reformation and, and, even through the Puritan era and everything, if I, from what I’ve learned. I’m not a historical theologian, where I have an expertise in this, but from what I’ve learned and understood, this was taken just to be from the early church; Augustine, all the way through the scholastics, you know, around the Reformation time. This is just standard stuff, divine simplicity; all the way through the Reformation time that it was never questioned; all the way through the Puritan era; never questioned.
And so, it’s just affirmed. But I think the, the, further we’ve gone in a degradation of theology, since the Puritan era, through, like you know, revivalism and all those kinds of things, we’ve, we’ve, become more man centered in our thinking than God centered. And so, we’ve tended to misunderstand this whole issue of divine simplicity to where it’s completely neglected and never emphasized.
So, I think that’s why we’re trying to go back to Vince Lombardi. Gentleman, this is a football, you know, God is simple; simplicity of God. So that’s what we’re trying to do here. Yeah.
Audience: I was just thinking Romans 7, kind of a Paul’s dilemma there, “I continue to do the very things I don’t want to do.” God is never in that state. Right. We are, so..
Travis: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, very good. So, we could, we could keep on going on this, but I want to move the ball ahead just a little bit. But I do want to emphasize that, the, we, we, don’t want to just sit and intellectually be stimulated on this doctrine of divine, divine simplicity. It must, it must change us. It must change, starting in our thinking, to our will, our actions, our obedience, our affections, especially our affections.
You know the noshish, the notitia, even the assensus elements of believing are what the demons do. You know they, they, understand the facts of divine simplicity or all these you know attributes of God. They, they, assent even to their, their, truthfulness. But they don’t have fiducia. They don’t have the, the, the, the faith of embracing and repenting and loving. And that’s what we must have.
We, in all these things we talk about, we have to be stirred in our affections, and if your affections are unmoved and unchanged; May God have mercy on your sin sick soul. You know, just pray and ask God to move you. Ask God to change you, to help you to understand, that you might be more obedient and lined up to his character and his nature.
So again, a righteous affections. David pointed out Ezra 7:10, we have to ‘set our heart’ to study God’s will. But we have to set our heart first; that means our affections; it means our, Psalm One, “Delight in his law day and night.” There’s a, there’s a delighting that drives us to meditating and studying. Okay?
Humility before God and others. Meekness, like, like, Lee was pointing out. The obedience to his word. Pursuit of holiness, pursuit of, you know, conformity to him in all ways. Not just picking our favorite ones or the ones that are easiest to our nature or what we’re like, but actually repenting in all things. And then all of this driving us to tell other people. Out of that life change, we evangelize, we disciple, we don’t hold it in and tell no one.
I mean, look, there’s a, as I look around, there’s a number of grandparents here. You teaching your grandkids? Are you teaching your grandkids who God is? I mean, look, these kids need to know, they need to understand they have this vision of God that’s greater than their, their, Nintendo or greater than their video games. They need to see that God is greater than sports.
So just running around as a grandparent and attending all their stuff and other activities, conforming yourself to their lives; Not helpful. Mean it’s good. You’re developing a relationship. I shouldn’t say not helpful. That alone is not helpful; if you only do that. You must, you must do that to build relationships. But you have to go further and teach them. So don’t hold this in. Let it out. Let it change the way you communicate with other people, Okay?
So moving the ball forward just a bit and, I, like I said, we needed to do those hard yards in; gentlemen, this is a football, in divine simplicity before moving forward. Because without an appreciation of divine simplicity, the other doctrines that come out of this, the other attributes can be more difficult to grasp. But in light of divine simplicity, things like God is one, he’s immortal, life giving spirit, all these other attributes flow consistently out of it.
So, I wanna talk about a, a, couple of attributes under the heading: God is unchanging. Okay? So, that’s where we’re gonna go. God is unchanging. We’ve talked about God as life-giving spirit, number one. We’ve talked about him as one, number two. And now we’re going to look at number three, that God is unchanging. God is unchanging.
When I say God is unchanging, I’m talking about his attributes of immutability and impassibility. Impassability is really a subset of immutability, okay, but we’ll get to that in just a second. The reason I’m dealing with these three categories of attributes that God is life-giving spirit, he’s one, and unchanging is because of the statement in the Londons baptis, London Baptist Confession of Faith, that God is without body parts or passions.
I just thought that was a good little outline to unpack. And the fact that the framers of that confession wanted to emphasize those points, I thought was important for us to kind of understand, unpack them better. I could have, I could have pushed the unchangeableness of God into a different category, which illustrates again, once again, the difficulty that we have of categorizing the attributes of God, whose essence is simple and not complex, not composite.
You may have noticed that we haven’t yet covered, in our study of theology proper, any of the omnis of God. Usually that’s the first thing, and, it, when I was a new Christian, I was like, oh, that’s so cool, omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, you know, I love saying those things. It just made me sound smart, you know? What’s that?
But it’s, anybody notice we haven’t talked about omnis yet. We haven’t talked about God, yet, as infinite or eternal. Right? But he is. We, we’ve mentioned it in two and a half hours.
Audience: We have, since we’ve talked about one, so we have to have talked about all.
Travis: Well, played.
Audience: That was awesome.
Travis: But just to provoke your thinking a little bit, let me, let me ask you, let me ask you why. Why have we waited to talk about the omnis of God? Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. Why have we waited to talk about his infinity and eternality? Look, maybe ask, we could ask it this way: Under what category of God’s nature do those attributes belong?
Audience: Still God’s greatness.
Travis: Yeah, God’s greatness. Definitely. Larger category, than a couple sub categories I mentioned. You remember?
Audience: Unchanging. Incommunicable and communicable.
Travis: Yes. Then that’s God’s greatness and goodness. But we were kind of, were using those terms, but..
Audience: Are you saying that the three, the three categories under his incommunicable attributes are life changing spirit, the live changing spirit of one, and unchanging?
Travis: No, that’s God is immortal spirits. We’re talking about his basically, his absolute properties here. And just to, I, I’m sorry to ask such a hard, you know, difficult question because I know what I’m thinking.
You, I just want you to think that, but I cannot ask the right question. I’m talking, basically, I tried to break it down into God’s absolute categories of his, you know, his absolute attributes, like in, within God’s greatness, we see God’s greatness show up in the fact that he’s immortal spirit. Which we’ve talked about those three things.
And then the fact that he’s creator. Okay, so creator; God as creator and that’s, that’s, where you could put, and I am putting the omnis of God, because we see his omniscience, his, omn, his all powerfulness, omn, omnipotence, his, his omnipresence. We wouldn’t even be talking about those, when we scroll back into eternity past. I mean, we wouldn’t, you know, wonder about, is he everywhere or just in one place?
Audience: Cause there’s nowhere for him to be in place.
Travis: There’s no place, you know, there’s no space.
Audience: So it’s after the creator. After the creation that those things start to be.
Travis: Yeah, and, and, so same thing with eternal. Like, I know..
Audience: It has to be ‘time’ for that.
Travis: Right. Exactly. So you think about eternal and infinite are both attributes of limitlessness, which is how I’ll describe those as limitless. So limitless of his regard to space or time or, or, effect, power; talking about limitlessness. But even as we talk about this, we’re back to well, we wouldn’t have understood any of his absolute properties either as immortal spirit had things not been created.
So I mean we wouldn’t be here to even contemplate this. So, but there are some things that are known by what we look around and see, and we can understand of God. And there are other things that are kind of more inferred. Revealed, like, “Hear O Israel. The Lord our God is one.” Shema, O Yisrael.
You know that, that whole thing. Moses needed to be told that. He could have inferred it, because it says in Romans 1:20, “His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world.” So that’s why we can go back to Adam and Eve and say, you know what, they knew a lot about God, and there’s been a devolving and degeneration since then in our knowledge and understanding of God. They knew, they knew God well. And then they forfeited that. Ah, doesn’t it break your heart?
But forfeited that and now here I am just trying to stumble around and trying to, aahh, aaahhh, creation’s a prism. So the thing that had to happen in order for God’s omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence to become known or his infinite nature, his eternal nature, Romans 1:20 says, creation happened. Creation happened, and now we see all these things unfolding.
So the verse, you know, it says God’s invisible attributes, namely his eternal power, divine nature, again have been clearly perceived; ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made. And it’s not only believers that can infer these things and understand these things about God, because it goes on, this is the reason that they are without excuse. Who is without excuse? All humanity.
All humanity can see these things we’re talking about; about God and infer them. And that’s why you find the philosophers who are, who are pondering some of the things and sometimes they get close to divine revelation and what they see because it’s all been clearly perceived. It’s just they suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
Audience: Usually they go, whoa, get out of here.
Travis: Whoa, whoa, well, that’s going to have implications on my life. Oh no! You run away because I still wanna smoke pot. So the verse, the verse here refers to his invisible attributes. Just the, the, invisibility itself points to his spiritual essence that’s been perceived since the foundation of the world.
Then, then his eternal power, there’s a substantive, followed by a, er a, preceded, by a modifying adjective, so power, but then it’s eternal power and those are two attributes. So eternality and omnipotence, we observe, so to speak, God’s eternal power in the things that have been made. There’s a, there’s a, there’s a power, but it’s, it’s, it’s, an infinite power. It’s one that has no limit.
Again, one attribute describing, defining the other. They’re all, they’re all infinite. They’re all God. All that is in God is God. The, the next word, divine nature is broader though. Doesn’t speak of a single attribute, invisible, invisibility, eternality, or omnipotence which preceded this.
So his eternal power, divine nature. Some text, some, some translations talk about the Godhead. So we’re talking about the essence of God. Paul says, “Even the essence of God though,” Romans 1:20, “has been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world and the things that have been made.” Isn’t that amazing to think about all the people of God from past times have known that; even the unbelievers can. It’s all clearly perceived.
So ever since mankind has been created, we’ve been able to infer a lot about God from the creation. So attributes omnipresence of, omniscience, God’s limitlessness as infinite and eternal, all those are attributes of God’s greatness. But we’re also able to discern the attributes of God’s goodness by the things have been made, first as he is in himself: is holy, true, loving.
And then how those attributes of holiness, truth and loving, and love are, are, translated to us in holiness, shown up in us as righteousness. Translated us in righteousness. His truth means he’s faithful, he’s always, he’s, he’s never changing. Mercy and grace are, are, transitive properties of his love.
He’s loving and so we see his mercy and grace show up. So, there, we also see the attributes of God’s unchanging nature. Not just as attributes of him in, his immortal spirit, which is how we’re going to deal with them, but attributes of, you know, coming out of creation. We couldn’t know him as immutable, unchanging, if we didn’t see things that are mutable and changing.
Everything in creation is mutable and changing, but God is not. So. But, but again, the reason I’m covering these, not these doctrines of unchain, the unchangeableness of God, is immutability and impassibility. The reason I’m covering them, now, as opposed to under the heading of God as creator is because of that statement in the London Baptist Confession so, without, “God is without body parts or passions”.
So the statement there refers to the spiritual essence of God. He’s without body. It refers to the simple essence of God. He is without parts. And it refers to the impassability of God. God is without passions. I’m going to deal with that next time, and today’s title, if you will, you’ll see it on the website, is God un, God unchanging. Next week will be God unaffected. Okay. So, God unchanging; God unaffected.
So, this is the impassability of God is an inference from his immutability, and I can see the wisdom of the framers of the London Baptist Confession, framing it this way. But without further delay, with just a little bit of time left, let’s consider just one aspect of God as the unchanging God, he’s, he’s, immutable and impassable.
But we’ll talk about the immutability of God. Just basically that God is not mutable, he’s not changeable. And this begins with the affirmation in Exodus 3:14, God’s self-attestation as, “haya aser haya.” ‘I am who I am” or I am what I am. I am that I am. The fact that God is the ‘I AM,’ it strongly affirms his unchangeableness and there are other passages in scripture that bear witness to that; which we’ll cover.
Get your Bibles, because I’m going to ask you to be turning to some passages here. But the doctrine of God’s immutability, his unchangeableness, is very succinctly stated in Malachi 3:6, “I the Lord do not change.” “I, the Lord, do not change; and therefore, O children of Jacob, you are not consumed.”
Let me give you some biblical evidence for this doctrine. And I want to say, in the biblical evidence, I’m going to break this evidence, so we find the different passages, we cover, into two categories; his unchanging essence or his substance of God, and his unchanging will. Okay.
His unchanging essence and his unchanging will. Who he is and, then, how he projects himself on the created world. So, God, first of all, in his unchanging essence, God is the same. Let me have, get some, everybody when you’re ready look up here and I’ll start assigning some passages.
They’re not all gonna fit under this category. So let me just give you, start with you, Mike and give you Psalm 102:25 to 27. David, Hebrews, 13:8. Wes, you want to write down several in Isaiah. They’re right in a row. Isaiah 41:4, 43:10, 44:6, 48:12. Got those. Okay. And then Doug. Same, same thing for you, several Revelation 1:8, Revelation 21:6, and Revelation 22:13. Got that? Daniel, Romans 1:23. John, Romans, er, I’m sorry, 1 Timothy 1:17. And then, Joe, 1 Timothy 6:15 to 16. Okay.
So let’s race through these. I got more passages. Don’t worry, we’ll get to you guys. So let’s, here’s some biblical evidence about God’s unchanging essence. His unchanging essence. Okay, God is the same. Let’s talk about that and start with Psalm 102:25 to 27.
Audience: “Of old you laid the foundation of the Earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain. They will all wear out like in the garment, will change them like a robe, and they will pass away. But you are the same, and your years have no end.”
Travis: “You are the same.” That’s really, really good. I’m going to read some of the sharna, Charnock out, out, about that verse, his comment on, “you are the same.” Okay? That actually is quoted also in Hebrews 1, 11 and 12, quoting that same passage right there. “You are the same.” Hebrews 13:8.
Audience: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
Travis: Okay, don’t let the charismatics rob that verse from us. Okay? Because that is a strong affirmation of the deity of Jesus Christ, that he has the same unchanging essence as God. It’s not just to say that, hey, charismatic gifts were practiced. You know, the supernatural sign gifts were practiced in Acts, and therefore we practice them today. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Yes, but we see all through history, all though since the foundation of the world, that he’s not interacting here on Earth in the same exact ways as he does in every single time and epoch. There are different eras, and there are different ways that he deals with things.
The dispensationalist called it dispensations. It’s not a bad way to look at it. Okay. But that verse Hebrews 13-8, is an affirmation of his deity. Okay, let’s, let’s, let’s go to some passages here that talk about, God is the first and the last. This is Isaiah. Go ahead and just rattle them off there Wes.
Audience: 41:4, “Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first and with the last; I am he.” 43:10, “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no God was formed, nor shall there be any after me.” 44:6, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me, there is no god.” And then 48:12, “Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he: I am the first, and I am the last.”
Travis: Excellent. Okay, so it’s basically saying what? “God is the first and he is the last.”
Audience: Get kinda.
Travis: Kinda like that. All right, so who’s got, Doug, you had the Revelation passages, so let’s do those.
Audience: These are the Alpha and Omega, I bet. Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” And then Revelation.
Travis: And who’s that attributed to?
Audience: God. God. Christ. Christ, Christ.
Travis: Christ, yeah.
Audience: Revelation 21:6, ‘Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. Over such.’ Am I in the right place or did I get 20? I got 26, sorry. “And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.’”
Travis: Okay, good. And then 22:8 or 22:13, I mean.
Audience: 22:13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
Travis: Okay, so there is a first and a last; a firstness and a lastness. Alpha, Omega, beginning, end. Which means a sameness to God. The, he, what he was at the very beginning is what he is at the end. There’s an unchangeableness implied in those texts. Let’s go to Romans 1:23. This is talking about God is immortal or incorruptible. So Romans 1:23.
Audience: “And exchange the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
Travis: Okay, speaking of the sinfulness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They reject the immortality of God, and in exchange the worship of that God for the worship of corruptible or changing mutable things. God is by nature immortal or incorruptible, meaning he’s not capable of decay; which is a change in the negative. Okay, John?
Audience: 1 Timothy 1:17, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
Travis: I love that catalogue of attributes, there. But so, to the king there’s a, ref, reference to his sovereignty, immortal, invisible, the only wise God. There’s just so much affirmed in that. Joe, last one.
Audience: “Which you will display at the proper time-he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in an unapproachable light, and no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.”
Travis: Amen. Amen. Thanks. Yeah.
Audience: What was the reference? 1 Timothy 6, 15 and 16.
Travis: Yeah, 1 Timothy 6:15 and 16. So let me go back to that statement in Psalm 102:27, “Thou art the same.” Here’s what Charnock says about that, “The essence of God, with all the perfections of his nature, are pronounced the same,” and all those scriptures affirm that. “Without any variation from eternity to eternity; so that the text doth not only assert the eternal duration of God, but his immutability in that duration.
“His eternity is signified in that expression, ‘Thou shalt endure;’ his immutability in this, ‘Thou art the same.’ To endure, argues indeed his eternal his immutability, as well as eternity; for what endures, is not changed, and what has changed, doth not endure; but ‘Thou art the same’ doth more fully signify it.
“He could not be the same if he could be changed into any other thing than what he is; the Psalmist therefore puts not thou halt been, or shalt be, but thou art the same, without any alteration.
“‘Thou art the same;’ that is, the same God; the same in essence and nature; the same in will and purpose. Thou dost change all other thing, as thou pleanest, but thou art immutable in every in every respect, and receivest no shadow of change, though never so light and small.
“The Psalmist here alludes to the name Jehovah, I Am; and doth not only ascribe immutability to God, but exclude everything else from partaking in that perfection. All things else are tottering; God sees all other things in continual motion under his feet, like water passing away and no more seen; while he remains fixed and immovable; his wisdom and power, his knowledge and will, are always the same.
“His essence can receive no alteration, neither by itself, nor by any external cause; whereas other things either naturally decline to destruction, pass from one term to another, till they come to their period; or shall at the last day be wrapped up, after God hath completed his will in them and by them, as man, a man doth a garment he intends to repair and transform to another use. So that in the text, God, as immutable, is opposed to all creatures as perishing, and changeable.”
Not, not saying he’s oriented in opposition, just saying he is, in contrast to. Contrast to all other creatures, who are perishing and changeable. That’s the doctrine. His essence is unchangeable. It’s immutable. Okay, “thou art the same.” I love how much Charnock gets, he, he kind of unpacks this passage in Psalm 102. Love how much he gets out of one phrase. If we would just be better observers of scripture, we’d get a lot out of it just like that. Okay?
So, God is unchanging in his essence. He’s also unchanging in his will. Here’s another set of passages. And coming to Lee, I’m going to give you, of course, Lamentations 3, 22 to 23. So, then Romans 8, 29 to 30. Let’s go to, across here to; now, let’s come up here to the front. Jesse, got a Bible, Psalm 33:11, Nicholas, Proverbs 19:21. Ren, Isaiah 14:24. Scott, Isaiah 46:9. Mark, Philippians 1:6. Wayne, Psalm 110 verse 4. Moses, you got a Bible? Alright, Psalm 138:8. Brett, Romans 11:1 and also read when I tell you to Romans 11:29. So Romans 11:1 then 29 when I tell you. Bryce, James 1:17. Bruce, Numbers 23:19.
I’ve got one left, it’s between you two back there. It’ll be to the man who wins the fight. So, you can put your right up here, so you fight it out, while we’re reading all these other things. Who would like it? Okay, 1 Samuel 15:29. Josh reads Scripture all the time. So that’s right.
Audience: Lamentations 3 what?
Travis: Come on 22, 22 to 23.
Audience: That’s what I thought.
Travis: So, so we’re going to start here with Lee and I want in, in, talking about his unchanging will, we’re gonna talk about his, first his character, his unchanging character. Go ahead in Lamentations 3:22-23.
Audience: “The LORD’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.”
Travis: What a, a, promise inserted into the middle of the Lamentation; destruction of Jerusalem, and God visited them with a reminder of his character, which comes from Exodus 34, and he never changes.
Audience: Led to the writing of a great hymn.
Travis: Yeah, that’s right. Led to the writing of ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness.’ Good. So his character thank, thankfully, his character never changes and his will never changes. That’s a promise to Israel of restoration in the middle of their absolute devastation. And so, he’s pointing to the fact that his character never changes. You can bank on it. You will be restored. Gary. This is a this is a verse that talks about the unchangeable will, of his choices.
Audience: Romans 8:29 through 30, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first born among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Travis: Okay, Amen to that. Go to the unchangeableness of his plans. Up here to Jesse.
Audience: Okay. “The council of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”
Travis: Did you guys hear that, “council of Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Proverbs.
Audience: what’s the reference?
Travis: That’s Psalm 33:11. Proverbs 19:21.
Audience: “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the council of the LORD will stand.”
Travis: Okay. Next is Isaiah 14:24.
Audience: “The Lord of host has sworn: saying, ‘Surely, just as I have intended so’, it will happen, ‘it has happened and just as I have planned, so it will stand.’”
Travis: Okay, so everything God plans will stand. Praise God, if you’re on the right side of that plan. Isaiah 46. You ever heard of that, you know, that, that approach to evangelism; God has a wonderful plan for your life. Oh, by the way, if you’re belonging to him, it’s wonderful. If you don’t..
Audience: He’s got a plan. He’s got a plan that’s horrible.
Travis: Okay, so it’s terrible. So Isaiah 46:9.
Audience: “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”
Travis: Is there more to that? Can you keep reading?
Audience: “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done.”
Travis: Okay. Is that verse ten?
Travis: Yeah. Okay. So I meant verses nine and ten. Thanks. So I’m God. There is no other. I declare from the beginning. The things that have not yet happened, declaring the end from the beginning. Good. And then one more Philippians 1:6.
Audience: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of” our “Jesus Christ.” “of Jesus Christ.” Sorry.
Travis: So. What God sets out to do, he will do. No doubt about it. This again argues for the surety of our salvation. That he, when he sent his son to enact a plan of redemption, it was not a potential redemption, but an actual redemption. And we need to understand that. That’s, that’s, got all kinds of theological implications.
But he didn’t just say, hey, here’s a potential offer of salvation, and a provision I’ve made for you; should you accept it or not? No, Jesus, he sent Jesus to die for his people, to save his people from their sins. You think God’s plans in that regard will be thwarted? No. And that’s coming back to Gary’s text. That’s what that says. Okay.
So, so, we talked about the unchanging will in his character, in his choices, his plans. Now his promises. Who’s got Psalm 110 verse 4.
Audience: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’”
Travis: That is also quoted with reference to Christ in Hebrew 7:21, “He’s sworn forever and will not change his mind, ‘He is my high priest forever.’” That’s a promise, and I’m so thankful for that promise. Psalm 138:8.
Audience: “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the work of Your hands.”
Travis: I love that. That is so good and coming out of your little body, Moses, which is getting huge by the way. Coming out of you is just awesome to hear. That’s, awe, what a promise. Romans 11:1.
Audience: “Then has God rejected his people. By no means! God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”
Travis: There’s that word foreknowledge, fore knowing. He has set his affections on, on, Israel. Now if you’re a Gentile, that has meaning as far as you can see God’s faithfulness and the unchangeable nature of his promises. But if you’re a Jew; You’re so grateful for that verse; His character, choices, plans, promises. Now Brett, read the other one on his gifts.
Audience: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Travis: Irrevocable. Irrevocable.
Travis: That’s a Romans 11:29. “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Irrevocable. However, you say that. James 1:20 or 1:17. Sorry.
Audience: “And every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of light, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”
Travis: Okay, so that again, we can count on his gifts and blessings, being irrevocable, not changing because they’re coming from an unchanging God, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. I Like the article Phil wrote, which we’ll get into probably next week, “God Without Mood Swings.” He doesn’t have mood swings; and one day we’re favorable and one day we’re not. You know, he’s reliable, his gifts, his threats. Is this Bruce? You got this one?
Audience: Numbers 23:19
Travis: Yep. Okay.
Audience: “God is not a man, that he should lie, or a son of man that he should change his mind.” he “Has he said, and it will be not do it? Or has he spoken, and will be not fulfill it?”
Travis: Okay, that’s coming in a little bit of a darker context. The last one there, Ryan, 1 Samuel 15:29.
Audience: “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”
Travis: That spoken, I believe, Samuel to Saul, right. Where Saul has, mis, misjudged God sorely. So, his unchanging will, his character, choices, plans, promises, give some threats. I’m looking at that. We’re a little bit past time. I’m not gonna read from, I’ll, I’ll, save, to, the reading I wanted to do until next time. So we’ll introduce next time.
But I just wanted to talk very quickly about practical implications of the unchangeableness of God; assurance for his elect, assurance for his people Israel. Malachi, we start out with Malachi 3:6, “For I, the Lord, do not change. Therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” So, the fact that I don’t change is the fact that you’re not completely wiped off the face of the earth. Isn’t that good news, Israel?
Audience: It’s good for us, too.
Travis: Yeah. So that’s assurance for Israel. Lamentations 3, which we read Romans 11:1. Assurance for all, all, of his elect, which is Romans 8:29 to 30. You remember God’s immutability is the theme of that Fernando Ortega song, “God Eternal, God unchanging, mysterious and unknown, your boundless love unfailing, and grace and mercy shown.” All of his attributes are all infinite. They never change, Okay?
So we’ll come back to this and start here next time, and we have to ask this question. What about all those passages, though, that tell us that God does repent and God did change his mind? I’ll leave you with that to ponder.
Father, thank you for the time we’ve had this morning to dwell on your unchanging character. Your unchanging will, your plans, your promises, even your threats of punishment and judgment. You are not a God who will lie or change his mind. For us who belong to you, that is such a blessed assurance for us and we find all of our hope in you.
And we also find reason to warn those who do not know you, who are in rebellion against you. We have reason to warn them that your unchanging character in your nature means, that all your threats of judgment are; they certainly will come to pass. So, may those provoke the fear of the Lord in, in, unbelievers. That you might show mercy, just as you did to us.
We thank you, father, for the greatness of your essence and your character, which is all revealed to us through your word, by the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our lamb. Because of your Holy Spirit that works so mightily in us, please change us again through these doctrines. In Jesus’ name.