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The Attributes of God’s Greatness: Immortal Spirit

Okay, so last time we talked about the fundamental attribute of God’s being, the fact that he is, he is, and that he is the living God. And we identified that by the, by virtue of the references to him as Elohim, that is, a plural of majesty, allowing for a plural, plurality of person. And yet he’s restricted to oneness. He restricts himself to oneness, affirming that in the Shema of Israel, Shema Yisrael Yahweh, Eloheinu Yahweh Ahad. “Hear, Israel, Yahweh, our God Yahweh is one.”

That name Yahweh, it comes from the Hebrew verb of being, which is hayah, and that affirms God, at the very least, he’s a living being, but also that he’s a timeless being without beginning or end. We said God is pure being, he’s pure act. That is to say he’s not potentuality, potentiality, but he is actuality.

So that name “Yahweh” points to his nature as being pure being, pure act. Not “I was,” not, “I will be,” but “I am,” and all that’s packed into that term, which is incredible when you think that this is 1,500 years before Christ that God reveals himself to Moses in this way. Back when those people were so not evolved up to our level of intellect and understanding, right? That’s a joke, guys. Yeah, you’re getting me!

Audience: I paused at the word “evolved.”

Travis: Right, right. So, so, and we’ll get to, we’ll talk about that just a little bit more. We read a bunch of references that affirmed the fact that God is living. One of my favorites comes from John 5:26, when Jesus said, “The Father has life in himself.” That points to God as the origin and source of all life. And we read some other passages, Genesis 1:1-3, Genesis 2:7, John 1:1-4, 1 John 1:1-5.

Okay, so all that is review. The living God is revealed to us in Scripture, then, as a, in, an immortal spirit. There is, there’s a sense in which, as we’re going to talk about the greatness of God and what he is in his essence, he is not analogous to us as creatures. We need to take what is revealed about him on the face of it and take it, take him at his, as his, at his word because we, he is not like us. He’s different than us, okay?

So we’re going to talk about the attributes of God’s greatness. That’s the major section we’re in right now. First of all, God is immortal spirit. God is immortal spirit. The London Baptist Confession says this, that gotti, gotti, God is without, I was going ahead in my mind, God is without body parts or passions. God is without body parts or passions.

So confessing God is without body, that denies the materiality of God. That is to say, God is pure spirit. To say, to confess that God is without parts, that denies the complexity of God. He is not a composite being. That is to say, he is indivisible. Okay? God is one. God is simple. We’ll talk about that.

The third thing that the London Baptist Confession says, God is without body parts or passions. Confessing God is without passions denies the affectability or affectation of God. That is to say, God is immutable. He is impassable. We’ll talk about that. Prob, not going to get that, to that today. We’ll talk about these first two, denying the materiality of God. God is without body, he’s pure spirit, he’s immortal spirit; and God is, is without parts. He’s not a complex or composite being, okay?

So we’re going to treach, treat each of these separately. So we’re in a section under the attributes of God’s greatness, okay? We talked about the attributes of God’s greatness and then his goodness. We’re in the attributes of God’s greatness. This major section is that God is immortal spirit. God is immortal spirit.

Three, three things under this, these head, this heading here, God is immortal Spirit. First of all, God is life-giving spirit. Second of all, God is one. And third, God is unchanging. God is life-giving Spirit, God is one, and God is unchanging.

Okay, so first of all, we’ll talk about God as life-giving spirit, and there are a number of attributes that are going to come out of this, okay? Jesus said in John 4:24, “pneuma o theos,” that is to say, “God is spirit.” He said that to the woman at the well, right?

So first, by way of negation, we, I think we talked about this a little bit last time, by way of negation, God is not material, he’s not corporeal. Then we saw that in Luke 24:39, Acts 17:28-29. Read out of Charnock on that. By way of negation, God is not material. He does not have a body. Second, by way of affirmation, God’s being is invisible spirit. John 4:24, “God is spirit.” Colossians 1:25, 1 Timothy 1:17, Hebrews 11:27. Read from Charnock also to say that he is invisible spirit.

So that’s where we ended last time, and now we’re going to pick it up from there. We were talking about what it means for God to be immortal spirit. There’s some por, important inferences that we can make about God as a life-giving spirit, clearly attested in Scripture. And I want to give you, first of all, as we start to go through this, which is, we’re going to plod through some pretty deep ground today, okay? So put your thinking cap on. If you need more coffee, there are a lot of coffee pots back there. Drink it down. Gary’s got you all set up.

But a couple of implications I want to give you right off the bat. First, first implication for us, this is for our own understanding, for understanding God from the fact of God’s spiritual nature, his life-giving nature. There are some other attributes of his being that are not only inferred but also clearly attested to in Scripture. We understand God as, you know, reference to his aseity, his immortality, his internality, infinity, his simplicity.

We need to understand God for who he really is, and so understanding him as an immortal spirit, we’re going to further understand God, more deeply understand God when we understand these things about him and unpack these things about him. The second thing, second implication just for our edification, is all this has to do with us worshipping God rightly, for us knowing and understanding him and then worshiping him rightly, loving him more devoutly.

Okay, so let me, let me read a couple things from, first from Berkhof and then from Stephen Charnock. This has to do with understanding God from the fact that he is immortal spirit. This is from Berkhof, starting on page 65, reading to 122. No, I’m just kidding. I’m not going. “The Bible does not give us a definition of God. The nearest approach to anything like it is found in the word of Christ to the Samaritan woman, ‘God is spirit,’ John 4:24.

“This is at least a statement purporting to tell us in a single word what God is. The Lord does not merely say God is a spirit, but that he is spirit. And because of this clear statement, it is quite fitting that we should discuss, first of all, the spirituality of God. By teaching the spirituality of God, theology stresses the fact that God has a substantial being all his own, indistinct from the world, and that his substantial being is immaterial, invisible, and without composition or extension.

“It includes the thought that all the essential qualities which belong to the perfect idea of spirit are found in him, that he is a self-conscious and self-determining being. Since he is spirit in the most absolute and in the purest sense of the word, there is in him no composition of parts.

“The idea of spirituality, necess, of necessity, excludes the description of anything like a corporeity to God, that is, having a body, and thus condemns the fancies of some of the early Gnostics and medieval mystics and of all those certain, those sectarians of our own day, who ascribe a body to God. It is true that the Bible speaks of the hands and the feet and the eyes and the ears, the mouth and the nose of God. But in doing this it is speaking anthropomorphically or figuratively of him who far transcends our human knowledge, and of whom we can only speak in a stammering fashion after the manner of men.

“By ascribing spirituality to God, we also affirm that he has none of the properties belonging to matter, and that he cannot be discerned by the bodily senses. Paul speaks of him as the ‘king, eternal, immortal, invisible,’ 1 Timothy 1:17 and again as the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who hath, who only hath immortality, dwelling in light inapproachable, whom no man hath seen, nor can see, to whom be honor and power eternal, 1 Timothy 6:15-16.’”

Interesting that he says there, we do this, we speak of God “only in a stammering fashion after the manner of men.” Take that to refer to all men, the most eloquent, the most erudite of men, the most studied, the most scholarly. We still, at the end of the day, speak in a stammering fashion about the nature of God, him being pure spirit, immortal spirit, immortal, life-giving spirit. We don’t understand that, and yet there is a clear, what’s communicated to us, what’s clear to us is that he is unlike us, and he is unlike this created world, and that’s why we should never mix him into something material and say he’s like that.

Stephen Charnock, he mentions eight out, implications of the divine nature, because God is in his essence a life-giving spirit. And I’m just going to read these off. I’m not going to unpack them because we’re going to, we’re going to get to some of this. But here’s, here’s what he says. “If God were not a spirit, he could not be Creator. If God were not a pure spirit, he could not be one.” We’ll get into that. “If God had a body, as we have, he would not be invisible.” Obviously. “If God were not a spirit, he could not be infinite. If God were not a spirit, he could not be independent being.” I’m going to come back to that in a second.

“If God were, if God were not a spirit, he would not be immutable and unchangeable.” Like us, we have a body. We’re always changing. At this very moment, I don’t know how many skin cells, Gary, I lost.

Audience: Tens of thousands.

Travis: All right, so tens of thousands of skin cells are always coming off my body, and then there’s new ones being regenerated. I’m different every single moment.

Audience: I’ll clean up later.

Travis: That’s why, that’s why Rod’s here, to clean up my mess.

“If God were, number seven, if God were not a pure spirit, he could not be omnipresent. If God were not a spirit, he could not be the most perfect being.”

Okay, we’ll come back, as I said, to one of those points and read a little more, but if, just notice the fact that we affirm God as immortal, life-giving spirit, and that means something. It has a lot of implications that come out of it, to affirm God as spirit. And this is just for us, for understanding God. We have to understand God in, who, in his nature, who he truly is and what he truly is in his essence.

Second, though, for worshipping God, God’s being and attributes are not available to our sense perception, and we talked about this a little bit last time. God calls his attributes, Romans 1:20, “invisible attributes,” and that, that’s metonymy for all of our senses. It’s not just our, what we can see, like I can somehow touch. No, I can’t feel, I can’t hear, I can’t taste, smell God.

Okay, so all the bells and smells and those high church environments, they’re, John MacArthur says whenever you find, you know, greater, greater appeal to the aesthetics and the, the bells and smells and the sense perception, the less you have truth about God. I think that’s, I think that’s pretty accurate.

So Paul calls these “invisible attributes,” and he’s not meaning to say, “Oh, but we can hear.” He’s saying, “invisible” means not able to be perceived by our, our physical senses. When we want, I mentioned this last time, we don’t, we don’t want to say things like, “I feel God’s presence.” What do you mean by that? Mean you have goosebumps? Great! Good goosebumps can come from a lot of different things. What’s that?

Audience: It’s snowing.

Travis: It’s snowing. You’re cold. That’s why you have goosebumps. You were just frightened.

I will, I will say that sometimes our feelings do follow our, on our knowledge and understanding of God. So certainly don’t want to deny the importance of feelings. They, they are very important. God made us emotional creatures and feeling creatures, and we need to not deny that ever, ever, ever. Okay, but we don’t want them to get out in front as if a feeling is somehow affirmation or validation of God’s presence or absence. Okay?

So invisible attributes and, this, to know that his, he is by essence, in his essence immortal, life-giving spirit, it helps us to see and appreciate the incredible miracle and mystery of the incarnation of God in Christ. God is, 1 Timothy 6:15-16, “the blessed and only sovereign, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who alone by himself no other has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen nor can see.”

Jesus is, Colossians 1:15, “the image of the invisible God.” Hebrews 1:3: Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” John 1:14, “The word became flesh, dwelt among us. We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” And John 1:18, “No one has ever seen God,” again affirming what it says in 1 Timothy 6, “No one has ever seen God, the only God, who is at the Father’s side. He has made him known.”

Just, and, and so I just want to impress upon you as we start, that the mystery and the miracle of the incarnation of Jesus Christ to make known to us this God who would otherwise be unknowable, is to, to make visible to God, to us, the God who is by nature invisible. It’s an credible, profound mystery and privilege for us. So I want to enter into this study with a sense of awe and worship. And I hope we leave that way, too, as we talk about some things that are going to be pretty heady, okay?

So let’s talk about the attributes of God as a life-giving spirit. What are the attributes of God as a life-giving spirit? Let’s start with aseity. Anybody know what the word “aseity” refers to?

Audience. Doesn’t it mean self-existence?

Travis: It does, yeah, it does. It, it talks about “from self,” literally, Latin a se is “from self,” and that literally means self-generated, self-originated. Berkhof says some have used the term ca, causa sui, to, sui, to indicate that God is his own cause, that he is self-caused. We can’t say that. Berkhof rightly says we cannot say God is self-caused because God is not caused. He is the uncaused cause of all things. “God exists,” as Berkhof puts it, “by the necessity of his own being and therefore necessarily.” Do you get that? Okay, so God, God exists because he must exist.

Audience. Is there more coffee back there?

Travis: Yes. You might, might want to get a drip line for Chuck, but and for all of us, seriously. Because try, try to think about it, God existing because he must exist. By necessity, he exists. He’s not self-caused, he’s not self-originated since he’s the eternal God without beginning or end. He always is. “I AM.” Again, back to that affirmation. That is profound, there, in Exodus, and we, we tend to think of them, you know, run around in the dirt in the desert, you know, in sandals and having no understanding. These, these Old Testament saints, it’s incredible what they knew. Think about Melchizedek, without beginning of days or end, without father or mother. Interesting. Abraham paid tithes.

So the better way to say this “aseity.” When we think about aseity, we want to talk about God is independent, God is self-existent, God is self-sufficient. That’s what we’re trying to say, okay?

Let me, let me have you guys look up a couple of passages, okay? Let’s start, let’s start on this side of the room since we usually go there. Chuck, we’ll start with you with Psalm 50:12-13. Go over here to Bruce, Psalm 94:8-10. Moses, you got a Bible? Okay, okay. So Nick, you’ll go to Isaiah 40:18 for Moses. And then Nick also stick your finger in Acts 17:24-25. Brett, go to Psalm 33:11. Lee, Psalm 115:3. Scott, Isaiah 40:14. Rod, Daniel 4:35. Back here to David, Romans 9:19. Gary, Romans 11:33-34. Mark, Ephesians 1:5. Then back there to Scott in the back, Revelation 4:11. Okay, everybody got their verses? Isaiah 40:18 for you Moses. Psalm 115 verse, verse 3.

Audience: What’s mine?

Travis: Oh, come on, guys. Acts 17:24-25. Okay. Everybody good? You better be. Otherwise, you’re gonna drop down! Give me 20! So let’s, this is, this is just when we talk about God being independent, he’s self-existent, he is self-sufficient, we want to first of all say that God is uniquely, not like anybody else, but uniquely independent of need; and secondly, he’s independent of thought, will, exercise of power, et cetera.

Okay, so he’s independent in need. He has no needs. He’s also independent in projection, projection of power, projection of thought, projection of intent and ambition and will. Okay, so first of all, he’s independent of need. Let’s go through, starting with Chuck, those verses, Psalm 50:12-13.

Audience: “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world in its fullness are mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of gods?”

Travis: It’s choking you up, isn’t it, just reading it, you know? So God isn’t, God doesn’t need our food. He doesn’t need our sacrifices or offerings. He has no need from us. Okay? So next one, Bruce, Psalm 94:8-10.

Audience: “Understand, O dullest of people. Fools, when you, fools, will you be wise? He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge?”

Travis: Does, so, does God have any need? You know, he who formed the ears, the eyes, when, when he teaches and instructs, does he somehow have need coming from anybody else? No, absolutely not. That’s what, what that’s saying. Isaiah 40:18.

Audience: “To whom, then, will you liken God, or will you liken, what like this will compare with him?”

Travis: Okay, keep going. Yeah, we’ll stop there. We just wanted to start with that first affirmation. Read that again, Isaiah 40:18.

Audience: “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol?”

Travis: Okay, good. So when we talk about an idol, craftsman casting it, we see that an idol is completely dependent for its existence on men crafting it. God has no likeness, he has no need. Yeah, Nick, Acts 17:24-25.

Audience: “The God who made the world and all things in it, since he is Lord of Heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, nor is he served by human hands as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.”

Travis: Okay, so if he is the life-giving spirit, giving life and breath and all things to all people, to all creatures, really, why would we think that he has any need? Who’s, who’s going to give to God? Who’s the, who’s the one feeding in to God that God then becomes a channel of blessing to everybody else? None. “To whom will you liken me?”

Okay, so that’s, God is, uniquely and utterly independent of need. He’s also independent of thought, will, exercise of power. He has his own thoughts, he has his own counsel, he has his own will, his own power that he projects. Okay, so it doesn’t, he doesn’t receive anything. He doesn’t need anything in order to give out. Lee. This is Psalm 33:11. Oh, sorry, Brett.

Audience. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.”

Travis: Okay, good. “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” Lee.

Audience: “Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever he pleases.”

Travis: Yeah, who’s going to thwart his will? Good. Isaiah 40:14.

Audience: “Whom did he consult and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice and taught him knowledge and showed him the way of understanding?”

Travis: Good. Who has given counsel to the Lord, right? Rod. Daniel 4:35.

Audience: “All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and he does, according to his, his will, among the host of heavens and among the inhabitants of the earth. None can stay his hand, or say to him, ‘What have you done?’”

Travis. Powerful. Romans 9:19.

Audience: “You will say to me then why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

Travis: Okay, it’s a rhetorical question. Who can resist his will? That’s true enough. In the argument there, he’s, he’s drawing a bead on a complaint or criticism of God, but the affirmation there stands: Who can resist his will? True enough. But that doesn’t mean you’re not responsible. Okay? Gary. This is Romans 11:33-34.

Audience: “O, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, how inscrutable his ways. For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”

Travis: Sounds like he came out of reading Isaiah when he wrote that. Ephesians 1:5.

Audience: “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will.”

Travis: Okay, so he has a will, and according to the purpose of that will, he did what he pleased, predestined us as sons. Revelation 4:11, Scott.

Audience: That’s me? Okay. “Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God to receive glory and honor and power. For thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they existed and were created.”

Travis: Okay, again going back to the will of the Creator God. No one can thwart his will, no one informs his will, no one informs his understanding. He is who he is. He has no need, and he has no need for the projection of his will, his power, his purpose. All of it stands. This is a high view of God. This is where we need to start in all of our life and all of our worship. If we grasp a high view of God, I’m telling you, it changes the whole way you think about life, obedience, use of time. Practical realities in your life are seen in light of who God is. This is how we need to think, okay?

Audience. What was that reference?

Travis: Which one? The one he just read? Revelation 4:11. Yep. So Berkhof writes about an implication of this. He says, “As the self-existent God, he is not only independent in himself, but also causes everything to depend on him.” So he’s independent himself, but he makes everything else around him be dependent on him. Okay?

This self-existence of God finds expression in the name Jehovah when God told Moses in Exodus 3:14, “Haya aser haya, that is “Yahweh, I am who I am” is what that means. “I am who I am,” or “I am what I am,” or “I am that I am.” That aser word could mean “who,” “what,” “that.” “I am who or what or that I am.” Among, among the other things which we have already discussed, that affirmation in Exodus 3:14, an affirmation of being, is an affirmation of a self-existent being.

And that’s what Berkhof, there, is referring to. Said this to Moses in his sandals in the desert, standing before a burning Bush. Not to you, Moses. Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t do. And if you read it in your Bible, he’s saying it to you. But the original, your namesake, heard this for the first time a long, long time ago.

So not only does God, is God, does God as life-giving spirit mean that he’s self existent and therefore the only true absolute, the only truly independent being. It also implies of necessity that all other things not God are dependent on God. Everything. This is what our modern world hates, okay?

Continuing with Berkhof, he draws out this implication. “It is only as the self-existent and independent one that God can give the assurance that he will, may remain eternally the same in relation to his people, as in John 5:26, ‘For as the father hath life in himself, even so gave he to the Son also to have life in himself,’ in the declaration that he is independent of all things, and that all things exist only through him.”

Okay, so I’m just trying to walk through this slowly. What he is saying is that because he is self-existent, because he is independent, because he is self-sufficient and the lack, needing nothing, lacking nothing and, and needing nothing to project his own power and authority and will and purpose, that has great implications for us. Number one, it means we’re completely dependent on him. And number two, we can count on him never, ever changing.

This is, God is the ground of all of our, our assurance. He is the ground of all of our hope, and so when we in any way try to diminish God or make him less than he is, we’re just slicing our own throats. We’re slicing our own confidence and assurance. We, we need him as he is revealed to be so that we can have confidence and hope because he never changes. He never, ever changes. He is the ground of all our hope and all of our assurance.

So back to Moses and the Israelites out there in Egypt. They’re under the bondage, the oppression of the Egyptians, cruel taskmasters oppressing them. I mean this is, they’re really experiencing suffering and pain unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. Okay? So they’re going through pain and turmoil, and they’re hav, they’re feeling the crack of the whip and they’re, they’re working twelve-, fourteen-, sixteen-, eighteen-hour days, whatever it is, to make bricks without straw because they have cruel taskmasters. They’re really feeling it.

When Moses asked God, he’s in the desert, he asked God in Exodus 3:13, “‘Look, you want me to be the one who leads this people out of Egypt? Okay? This is a powerful, this is the most powerful nation on the entire earth. This is the sup, the only superpower, able to project its authority and power all over the world. Our people are slave people, underneath the Egyptians.

“‘So 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?’” Moses, here, is not asking God to give him the secret code name for God so that when the Israelites hear it, they’re going to suddenly trust Moses and follow his leadership. That’s not what he’s doing here.

Rather, Moses is asking God, “What assurance in your character, your name, at, at, attributions to you, can I bring back to my people so that they will then shift their fear from the Egyptians to you?” That’s what he’s saying. So their trust has to be in God as God, so that they put their confidence in God’s ability to deliver them from cruel, oppressive bondage.

So God answered and he said, “I am who I am.” “Haya aser haya.” “I am who I am. Let them know ‘I am’ has sent me, or sent them, sent you to them.” So by reflecting on that truth, for the Israelites, about this essence of God, the Israelites could know beyond doubt that the power of their God was far above and beyond any of the most powerful men of Egypt and any of their so-called gods.

They had to sit there and reflect on the fact that God is self-sufficient. He is the “I am.” There is no need, there is nothing thwarting his power, nothing thwarting his will. He is self-existent, independent, self-sufficient, unlike any of the leaders of Egypt, unlike any of their so-called gods that are crafted and created by them.

So what God is bringing, giving Moses to bring back to the people is basically evangelistic. “Believe in this. Believe in this self-attesting God. Believe in this authority. And you have a choice. Either fear the Egyptian gods, either fear the Egyptians, or fear this God. If you fear this God, you’ll be delivered.” That’s what’s going on there.

We’ve been thinking at this point like theologians. Let’s take a minute to think like shepherds. How does this perfect self-sufficiency of God give us confidence for any so-called “Egyptians” we have in our own lives or in our own world? Tell me, what do you, what do you guys think? Reflecting. Am, am I making myself clear and understood, here? Okay, Bruce.

Audience. I think often we get questioned, for example, as a host witness, you know, in terms of who Jesus is, okay, and really who God is. And so when we come back to, like, these key passages, we can point these to, you know, this is what the truth is. It’s not me, it’s what the Scriptures teach.

Travis: Exactly. That’s exactly right. This, this, have, ask a Jehovah’s Witness or any of the cultists to explain this. And just, just ask, pose the question, “How does this answer that God gave to Moses help the Israelites at all?”

Audience. Well, I think of, you know, one of the passages that I always think about that is John 8:58, when Jesus says, “Before Abraham, I am.” And to me, that’s one of the most pow, powerful passages in all the New Testament because he’s referring back to this very passage, when Moses is spoken to by the burning bush who God is. You know, “I am that I am.” And so Jesus equates himself as that same person.

Travis. Right.

Audience: I mean, the ground shakes underneath me when I think of that.

Travis: That’s true. That’s true. Yeah, you want to take off your shoes because you’re standing on holy ground, there, because that’s what Jesus is saying. That’s why they picked up stones to stone him at that point.

Audience: Exactly.

Travis: They wanted to kill him because they knew what he was saying. It’s true, though. Joe.

Audience: Thinking what is the Egypt that we face today, the Egypt of our culture or, or whatever makes us afraid. Are we going to fear God or are we going to fear the culture around us?

Travis: Good. Thank you. The culture around us, the political winds that blow, the threat of more marginalization or opposition, or even though they were to hunt down and throw us in prison. Whatever the case, whatever we fear, the God we serve is so far higher, greater. All of those puny little human beings are puny little human beings. All of them like us, dependent on God. They’re even dependent on God for their persecution of us. They couldn’t persecute us without what God has given them. John.

Audience: Also, the thing that’s kind of overwhelming is I’m looking at it as most look at it. Whoa! And this God chose us to be his people?

Travis: Right,

Audience: Whoa!

Travis: It’s interesting that you say that, John, because God standing, or Moses standing back and saying, “This God chose us to be his people.” You go to Deuteronomy chapter 7 when he says, “You, don’t think that I chose you because you’re some great people, or I saw your wonderful potential.” You know. “I didn’t choose, you were the smallest of any nation. You’re nothing. I chose you so my own glory might be on display.”

And he again goes back to this concept of aseity, this concept of self-existence, self-sufficiency. He has no need. He’s doing this to project himself, to project his glory, to project his power, to make himself known. That’s why he chose Israel, and that’s why he chose any one of us. Josh.

Audience: And almost if, if you’re thinking about and it’s here in your head while you’re speaking to someone, it should give you just a ridiculous amount of confidence to where our natural tendency, if someone says, you’re sharing the Gospel and confronting their sin is for, and they start to push back against it and be like, “Well, that’s not what I believe in. That kind of hurts.” In the back of your mind is, “That, what you just said doesn’t even matter at all.”

Travis: Right.

Audience: And you just keep going? Because.

Travis: Exactly.

Audience: Because, their opinion and, there’s nothing, it’s nothing.

Travis: It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s nothing, as God says, and less than nothing. It’s lighter than nothing. I, it, the more we understand God this way, you’re, you’re absolutely right, the more it gives us complete, supreme confidence without arrogance. It’s a confidence that has a complete and total humility because we’re talking to a person who, who rejects this truth, and yet both of us stand or fall before that God.

So we stand on the same ground before God. It’s just that God’s opened my eyes and not his. Let me help him understand. You, you do get the sense when they push back with some amazing insight that they just got from there with Freshman 101 philosophy class, you know, and they remembered it 20 years later as they’re talking to you, and it’s coming out in bits and pieces and all garbled, and they think that that’s just this wonderful argument that just trashes yours.

And you, you, you, you tend to as you, as you listen to them, like you said, it’s almost like a like a four-year-old protesting, protesting against his parents’ wisdom. You look at them in the same light. But not arrogantly, with humility and with compassion. Scott, you were going to say something?

Audience: Something you just said about God choosing us to display it so that, so that his glory would be on display. I always run out of words when I try to tell, like, one of the last times, a lady who was hardcore into civil rights and, and welfare, and just flat out called me out in front of a group. Isn’t that all God wants? All God wants is more civil rights and and more welfare for impoverished people and all, and all that, and I, I fired back, I think not arrogantly, but I ran out of words, too. So it was, it was like this bad moment in my mind of well, no, he’s pursuing his glory, which I think is true, but then I couldn’t explain it.

Travis: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s a whole other direction of conversation we could go, but, but it is, what you said is essentially precisely spot on. No, God isn’t doing everything he’s doing for the purpose of civil rights. This is not about man-centered, this isn’t about man-centered, you know, social justice. Social justice and civil rights and the pursuit of civil rights implies that something’s broken. What’s broken and why did it, how did it get that?

Now we’re back to issues of sin and righteousness. We’re back to the standard of the Law-Giver and the Judge, who’s going to hold all the world accountable. We’re back to why did he do all this? Well, for his own glory. So you, you hit the nail on the head. It’s just, it’s just probably time is going to run out where you can actually explain that in a big context like that.

Audience: I felt like the bad guy, almost like that I was afraid nobody ever told me that they came across as me saying he doesn’t care about your civil rights at all. I didn’t mean to say it like that, but I think that’s what might have come across.

Travis: Yeah, yeah, that’ll get their attention. Truth is, he cares about all of that. He does care about social ju, issues of social justice and, and if we want to call it civil rights, but  he does care about all that, and he’ll bring every, every issue to account, which should cause all of those, whatever side they’re on, to, to reconcile with their God because if they have to stand before him answering about issues of justice, and they have not been found in Christ, then God will condemn them because they’re already condemned because they have not accepted the name of the only begotten son of God, right? Yeah, that’s where it comes back to. Ryan.

Audience: You’re talking about facing the Egypts of our lives and we respond and you know, what are we going to fear? And so often you know, that fear of man, we’re just elevating ourselves or the stature of man when you go back through and even what we were reading earlier, the collective will of, you know, this earth, you know, 6-7 billion people, is nothing compared to the will of God, and we have no chance of thwarting his purpose, anything. And so when our confidence is shaken, I mean, it’s just our focus is again on ourselves.

Travis: Good.

Audience: And so.

Travis: Yeah, we shift our our fear from the Creator to the creature, as if this dependent, not self-existent, but utterly dependent creature can somehow thwart the will of the Creator, who is self existent, dependent on none, no one. That’s right. So the collective will of the entire earth cannot thwart his purpose.

Take all the collective will and power and ambition, everything of the, of the, of the earth and all created things and put them in a scale in the balances and then put one impulse of God’s initiative in the other scale, and the, it goes like this. The weight is incomparable.

Audience: Wasn’t it, was it the Babylonians that were, that were besieging Jerusalem? And you know, and this is, you don’t even want to put a number on it because it diminishes the power, but, and the angel of Lord, 185,000.

Travis: Right. One angel.

Audience. And that’s, you don’t want to put that number on because, you know, that’s, that puts it in, in a box almost. But, and that’s, you know, the number could have been, you know.

Travis: Doesn’t matter. Yeah, exactly right.

Audience: And in Isaiah, what did he say? “You’re just a drop of water in a bucket. You’re just the dust on a scale.”

Travis: That’s right. That’s right. Lighter than nothing.

Audience. He spoke the stars into being.

Travis: He spoke and, yeah, and he created the stars also. Oh, by the way. So, so again, the past, past couple of men’s training we’ve done for our Front Range Bible Fellowship, I, I’ve, you know, some, some have come up to me after I’ve given those those talks on the modern world and everything, and they said, “That’s kind of depressing.” And I said, “You know, you’re right. If all you’re looking at is around you at the modern world, if your, if your vision is completely horizontal, yeah, it’s depressing.”

But if you understand that all of that that’s going on is just what’s going on now, trying to get discernment about what’s going on now, to see how we can ward off or change or not be distracted, not be manipulated, not be pressured and stressed by that, we look, we look vertically to the God who is above all things and unchanging.

All of this that’s going on is because of his will. By his providence, he’s bringing all this about because he’s got a will and a purpose. That will not be thwarted. So our confidence has to not be in the world around us, and our fear needs to be not because of the world around us. Our confidence is in God and our fears and God and God alone. Okay?

So that’s good, and we, you know, guys, again, as we think as shepherds, we think as theologians to understand who God is and what he’s like. We think as shepherds because we not only need to stop and reflect and meditate and worship for ourselves, but guys, we need to go out and communicate this. You need to teach your families. You need to teach your, your wife, and your children, and your friends, and your relatives, and you need to teach people. You cannot let this be a cul-de-sac in you. Don’t go out of here and say nothing. Bret.

Audience: For those just thinking like what John said and Joe said, you know, it’s like, it’s kind of like we’re defining God, we’re spending time defining God, and our minds are being blown by defining God. And then you take that and you apply it to a passage like, you know, “If God is for us, who can be against us,” and then, and then you all of a sudden have that definition, and it’s like, I just kind of keep realizing I, I come here, I, I have a little meditation on God that, that, that, that packs that word full of meaning. But, but I need to keep that in front of my eyes, and I, and I, in front of my family’s eyes because otherwise, it does kind of get to be a meaningless God, God, you know.

Travis: It becomes, yeah, it becomes cliché, you know, that we just repeat these same lines, “If God’s for us, who can be against us,” and it be, kind of becomes almost a meaningless repetition.

Audience: Yeah, we’re all thinking in the same way, but if you’re in awe of that because of his all-sufficiency, his, his complete independence of anything, then. Yeah, then. Well, like I was thinking of this quote by Clark Pinnock. He’s talking about the August, Augustine allowed an evil sovereignty into his theology, and he’s talking about it all basically in these horizontal terms, and Augustine did this, and then other people did this and then this, you know, and it’s just completely ignoring all these verses of the Bible where God is saying, “I don’t need anybody.”

Travis: Right. Yeah, yeah, he’s, he’s basically trying to attribute to Augustine some type of, either out of his ignorance his need or malevolence, or whatever it is, whatever the motive is, that he kind of spun this up out of whole cloth, you know, he kind of made this doctrine. No, actually go through Augustine down into the text and see where he got that and see if it’s warranted, what he says is actually warranted.

Audience: And that God is, that God is speaking it and is, in is, saying it in so much more awful, or awe, awe-inspiring terms.

Travis. That’s right.

Audience. Then, then you know, any philosopher or theologian has ever, I mean and every time God speaks, it’s like that. It’s kind of like the conversation with Job. Job’s like, you know, “Let me figure this out and I want to, you know, you know, answer these questions.” And God’s like.

Travis: “Where were you when I created all this?” Exactly. So, so there’s a, just, just as you’re saying there, Augustine and all of them are speaking with stammering tongue about what God has said so clearly, succinctly, concisely, precisely and powerfully.

Audience: I mean in three letters, you know, or four letters or whatever, YHWH, “I am,” that communicates so much grandeur that we are trying to, like, you know, like, figure out our little ways of, you know, describing it, and, and, and God’s always like that. Every time he speaks, it’s like, “RRRR.”

Travis: You ever see those, not to go from the sublime to the ridiculous, but you ever see those, those movies where some alien ship comes down and boom! all of a sudden it’s there on the earth, and all the human beings are like walking around it, and “What is this and what, should we approach it or stay away? Should we shoot at it? Should we make peace?” And, you know, they’re kind of looking at it.

That’s what these doctrines are like. They come into our lives and into our minds, and we’re just, like, “Whoa! What’s just happened? This is completely alien.” So let’s understand, you know, we’re kind of looking at it from different angles and trying to approach or stay away, or. That’s what God is. And yet he’s our Creator. He’s the source of all of us, and the reason we can even ask the questions is because he gave us mind, created us in his image. Okay, let’s move on.

So we’re going to talk now about immortality. We talked about aseity, the self-existence of God, the, the independence of God. Now we’ll talk about immortality. We read earlier from 1 Timothy 6:15-16, which tells us that God is the blessed and only sovereign or potentate, the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, who alone has immortality.

To be mortal, what is that? To be mortal is to be subject to death, right? It’s to be subject to death, which means, and death is to be cut off from life. So to be immortal is a negation of that condition. And that’s why I don’t, we talked about this a little bit last time, and I, I kind of clarified it here in my thinking that I put it out to you. I don’t like to speak of the human soul or spirit as immortal, okay, of as possessing immortality or granted immortality through connection to God, but in and of ourselves our soul is not immortal, okay, because the souls who will spend eternity in hell are forever cut off from the life of God.

Okay, so that’s mortality. Our souls we are granted in Christ. We’re granted immortality, but it’s a, an immortality that’s being connected vitally into the vine or connected into the nature of God. That’s where our life sustenance is, which will carry us into eternity. Lee.

Audience: I just wanted to back up there on that, there. You said, there, “without the life of God.” Are you, you’re saying without the manifest life of God because they’re still held together by word of Christ’s power.

Travis: They’re, they are, they’re still held together. And yet, yet they are cut off from the spiritual sustenance, cut off from the life of God, cut off from the knowledge of God. They, they will have the full knowledge of conscience that, that torments them forever on how they have, I mean, they’re going to be in a resurrected body, a body that’s prepared for their eternal condition of death and torment. I don’t know. What is that like? More acute nerve sensors or whatever that senses the, the burning and the pain and all.

It’s just, it, you used the word “awful,” Brett, earlier, and there is an awful and an awe-inspiring, full of awe, sense of God’s God-ness. And when I think about the doctrine of hell, that’s the, that’s the terrifying side that we have escaped. And because we’re redeemed, we will proclaim and praise that forever, unlike anybody else. Gary.

Audience. So you are very clear that just because the mortal, we no longer have immortal life if those who are condemned to hell no longer have immortal life. But what you’re not saying is annihilation.

Travis: I’m not saying annihilation. Thank you. No, I’m not. That’s, that’s not to say that. I’m saying, you know, because I used words like “they will be in hell forever,” I’m not saying they’re annihilated, but I am saying that they are cut off from the spiritual sustenance, vitality, life of God. So there isn’t anything that’s sustaining them in the life of God, except God is holding them together to experience conscious, eternal torment, absolutely.

But there is, there’s something about that condition that is demonstrating the mortality, not immortality. Immortality, God alone is immortal. That’s what the Scripture affirms. And we, how are we going to live forever? Because we are connected to God in the divine nature because of Christ.

I got a couple of hands going up. We got, you guys have to hurry because I have a lot to get through, so make it quick.

Audience. I was thinking when you were, kept saying “cut off,” I was thinking, snip, snip, snip, snip.

Travis. Yep. Yeah, don’t smile when you say that. It’s true and it’s frightening. Yeah.

Audience: I was just thinking it is, I don’t, it doesn’t seem like unbelievers will be really anymore dead in hell than they are now as far as being cut off from life with God. They already are.

Travis: Their, because, because of their hardness of heart, the calluses that they have built up by rejecting and resisting God’s will, all that callus is going to come off. So there is going to be a, a torment that they don’t experience now. There’s not going to be, “Hey, I’m going to party with all my friends in hell, dude.” There’s not going to be any of that attitude. Don’t know, I mean, all that the Bible describes, if we go through a doct, we will eventually get to the doctrine of hell and talk about that because God created that, too.

But there is, there is something about their existence they’re going to, just as we’re going to receive a resurrected body, they’re going to be resurrected to eternal hell and receive a body that’s fit, meet for that purpose. So there is going to be an experience of mortality and deadness, ju, that’s that’s going to be very different than what they’re experiencing now. Quickly, Scott.

Audience: So, so real quick, the, you know the story where Moses, you know, I don’t know, sees, sees, whatever.

Travis: The glory, the presence of God? Yes, when he’s hidden in the cleft of the rock.

Audience: So what, God’s not displaying his image. What is he displaying, then?

Travis: Yeah, he’s he’s making something visible, but it’s not his essence, because his essence is invisible.

Audience: Yeah, so it’s not, it’s kind of like Jesus, like, kind of similar to?

Travis: So the the closest I can think is the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night. There was something manifest about the shekinah glory of God that the Israelites could see, but that in and of itself was not God.

Audience: Yeah.

Travis: That was a manifestation of the glory of God in a way that we can, we can see and apprehend, but that’s not, in fact, what he, what he, it was what he declared to Moses while he was in the cleft of the rock: “The Lord, the Lord, compassionate and gracious and merciful” and all that. That’s what was actually more the revelation than any appearance. Any sense perception.

Okay? So God is the only immortal being in the universe. And again we’re talking about immortal, and we talk about life-giving. Okay, so John 5:26 again because he has life in himself. Both the Father and the Son share the attribute of immortality because it’s essential to the being of God as the life-giving spirit. Okay?

Now that is God as London Baptist Confession says, God without body. God is immortal life-giving spirit. But the London Baptist Confession also says God is without parts, without body parts or passions, and you might have thought as you read through that for the first time, that without body and parts, it’s just trying to say the same thing in different ways. He has no body. Oh, yeah, by the way, he doesn’t have parts like eyes and hands and ears and wings and all that. He doesn’t have any of that, like, Scripture speaks an anthropomorphic language about God.

But “without parts” is something different, okay? It’s not talking about physical body parts because we’ve already denied that God has a body. He’s life-giving spirit. The line comes from chapter two of “God in the Holy Trinity,” section one; but also in Section 3, the confession again emphasizes this distinctive of no parts. Divine simplicity.

So it says, “Therefore, there is but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and being.” That’s the same language. It’s the lang, when, when it says, “God is without body parts or passions,” parts, it’s talking about a composite nature. There is no composition of God. There’s simplicity, okay? This is what we’re going to unpack now.

So there is one God who is not to be divided, that is, broken up into composite parts. He’s not to be din, divided in nature and being. So let’s talk about that second distinctive, God without parts. And that is to say that God is one, God is one. Now, two categories under “God is one.” There’s the unity of singularity, and there is the unity of simplicity. The unity of singularity and the unity of simplicity.

Let’s talk first about singularity. God’s unity means unity of singularity. That is, you could say numerical oneness of God, but really that points to the absolute uniqueness of God, okay? And there is one God, and there’s no one like him, okay? That’s what a descriptor he has, he speaks of himself. That’s what he attests to all the time.

So God is one essence. He’s a singular essence, not many. That’s the fundamental affirmation of monotheism. We already mentioned Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29, “Hear, O Israel, the Lo, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” So that verse, though, is less about numerical oneness to distinguish him from the polytheism of all the nations around him. It least it affirms that numerical oneness, and distinguished from the polytheism around, around Moses.

So we’re talking about monotheism, but it’s more about absolute uniqueness. Carl Friedrich Keil of Keil and Delitzsch, Old Testament commentary, he makes that point. He says that “the passage does not teach the numerical unity of God, but rather that Jehovah is the only God that is entitled to the name Jehovah.” So there is only one God who can say “I am.” That’s it.

There’s some corroborating verses that make that clear. Write these down. Look them up later, because I don’t want to, we need to keep moving here. Exodus 15:11. Deuteronomy 4:35. Deuteronomy 32:39. Psalm 18:31. Isaiah 44:6. Isaiah 45:5. All those verses make it clear that God is one, but he’s saying, “I’m one” not just in distinction to polytheism, like, “I’m multiple” or “I’m many.” He says, “I’m one and I’m absolutely unique.”

Audience. I got about half those.

Travis: Listen to the audio, okay? So here, here we go again. Exodus 15:11. Deuteronomy 4:35. Deuteronomy 32:39. Psalm 18:31. Isaiah 44:6. Isaiah 45:5.

Audience. Got them.

Travis: Good. So God is one. This unity of singularity, this unity, unity of uniqueness, absolute uniqueness, leads to another affirmation. And this is where we’re going to spend the rest of our time. The unity of simplicity. God’s unity means the unity of simplicity or indivisibility, which is to say, God’s essence is simple being, not complex, not composite.

Now we understand this from taking all those texts we’ve talked about, Exodus 3:14, “I am that I am,” Deuteronomy 6:4, Psalm 102:27, Revelation 1:8, we see how all those verses can be predicated only of a simple, non-composite being.

Now I need to put this in contrast with us, okay? We are complex creatures. We are composite beings. We consist of a composite of attributes. We could boil it down to two, right? What are we in, in, in essence?

Audience. Spirit and body.

Travis: Spirit and body, material and immaterial, right? So we have a material essence and an immaterial essence. You take one of both of those away, we no longer are what we are. But God is radically different from us in that regard. God is simple being, non-composite, okay?

Here’s Charnock again, going back to if God were not spirit, he could not be an independent being. He says, “Whatever is compounded of many parts depends either essentially or integrally upon those parts. As the essence of man depends on the conjunction and union of his two main parts, his soul and body, when they’re separated, the essence of a man ceaseth, and the perfection of a man depends upon every member of the body, so that if one be wanting, the perfection of the whole is wanting, as if a man hath lost a limb, you call him not a perfect man, because that part is gone upon which his perfection as an entire man did depend.

“If God therefore had a body, the perfection of the deity would depend on every part of that body, and the more parts he were compounded of, the more his dependency would be multiplied according to the number of those parts of the body. But that which is compounded of many parts is more dependent than that which is compounded of fewer.

“And because God would be a dependent being if he had a body, he would not be the first being, for the compounding of parts are in order of nature before that which is compounded by them. As the soul and the body are before the man which results from the union of them, if God had parts and bodily members as we have, or any composition, the essence of God would result from those parts, and those parts be supposed to be before God.

“For that which is a part is before that whose part it is, as in artificial things you may conceive it. All the parts of a, of a watch or a clock are in time before the watch which is made by setting those parts together,” okay? “In natural things, you must suppose the members of a body framed before you can call it a man, so that the parts of this body are before that which is constituted by them.

“We can conceive no other of God if he were not a pure, entire, unmixed spirit. If he had distinct parts, he would depend on them. Those parts would be before him. His essence would be the effect of those distinct parts, and so he would not be absolutely entirely the first being. But he is so. Isaiah 44:6: ‘I am the first and I am the last.’ He is the first. Nothing is before him. Whereas if he had bodily parts and those finite, it would follow God is made up of those parts which are not God, and that which is not God is an order of nature before that which is God. So we see that if God were not a spirit, he could not be independent.”

Okay? That seems like heady stuff, but really it’s just take, go back to the watch analogy. What existed first, the watch or its individual parts? It’s individual parts. So the watch for its existence depends on the individual parts, which were made before it. It also depends on a composer bringing all those parts together and putting them together. So if God were composed of parts, not only would those parts be in, before him, bringing, but there’s also a composer, something that is before God.

Okay, so that the Scripture does not teach us. Scripture teaches us that there is God, and God is “I am.” He is everlasting, from everlasting to everlasting. There is none before him. Okay?

So God is not made up of or, made up of or composed of distinct properties, constituent parts, or even a series of attributes. Okay, we’re talking about all these attributes independent of one another, but we under, you need to understand they’re all, so that is to say, God is not the sum total of all his attributes. Rather, all that is in God, is God. Or we can say God is all of his attributes. So John Owen says this: “He then, who is what he is, and who’s all that is in him, is himself hath neither parts, accidents, principles, nor anything else whereof his essence should be compounded.” In other words, that is to say, all that is in God, is God.

I, on this I, I owe a debt of gratitude to a man named James Dolezal, who graduated from the Masters Seminary before I did. But he’s helped me understand this doctrine, divine simplicity, better than anyone else. You can find some of his lectures uploaded on YouTube. Just put in James Dol, Dolezal is “Dolezal.” Just put in “James Dolezal divine simplicity.” You’ll find him.

But he whittles simplicity down to his essence in this bare assertion that I, I like what he says here. “Nothing not God can make God to be God.” That is, parts don’t make God, God. Nothing not-God can make God to be God. The principal claim of divine simplicity works out that truth, which is this: God is not composed of parts, because whatever is composed of parts depends on the parts to be all that it is.

We break that down further. A part is less than a whole. Without the part, the thing would be less than it is. Take away the second hand from a watch, it’s no longer a watch, is it? Just a broken piece of junk on your wrist. Every composite thing, that’s parts in an integrated whole, every composite thing requires a composer, requires something outside the parts that unifies all the parts. So what is the source of the power that unifies all the parts? Again, God does not require what is not-God in order to be as he is. Therefore, all that is in God, is God.

Now we have more to say, but is everybody following this so far? Okay, just make it quick.

Audience: So just really clarifying, is, MacArthur says, “The wrath of God knows nothing of the love of God,” and so that.

Travis: He’s just speaking as a preacher there.

Audience. Yeah, so it would actually be better to say God is all wrath and all love at the same time.

Travis: Well, we could even say that, yeah, we could even say that wrath is a function of his love.

Audience: Wow.

Travis: His wrath is a function of his love because his love has to do with all that is best, and all that is best is all of his glory.

Audience: And all that’s kind of how you look at it with each thing. So his, his, dep, his independence is, is part of his simplicity, is part of his impotence.

Travis: Let me, let me unpack it a little bit further, okay, because I think we’re going to scratch that itch. Dolezal lists some implications of divine simplicity. First, “God’s being in his essence, his existence, and his essence, they can’t be constituent components in him, each supplying what the other lacks. But God must be identical with his existence in his essence, and they must be identical with one another. It is God’s is, essence to be. By contrast, we have existence, but God is existence,” okay?

Secondly, Dolezal says this implication all of God’s attributes are identical with his essence. So to put this in contrast, not all, not all that is in me is the essence of being human. I stand six foot tall. That’s not the essence of what it means to be human. An ostrich can stand six foot tall, right? All of God’s attributes, though, are identical with his essence. From God’s non-compositeness, then, it follows that God’s attributes are actually, I don’t mean to blow your mind here if I haven’t already, God’s attributes are actually identical with each other.

John Owen puts it 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” Okay, that’s, that’s what John Owen says.

Audience: Is there a passage of Scripture that goes with that?

Travis: Yeah, there, the, this is all based, this is all on implications of “I am,” “Shema, O Israel.” It’s, it’s all implications of that, okay? I’m going to read that quote again. “The attributes of God, which alone seem to, seem to be distinct things in the essence of God, are all of them essentially the same,” and he’s using not “basically the same,” he’s using “essence” in its category of, of divine being and essence. “The attributes of God are all of them essentially the same with one another, and everyone the same with the essence of God itself.”

Now he provides two explanations to help us understand. He says, quote, this is John Owen, “For first they are spoken one of another as well as of God as there is his eternal power as well as his Godhead.” “Godhead” is a King James Version of his divine nature in Romans 1:20. So, “As there is his eternal power as well as his Godhead,” that is to say, eternality is a single attribute, power is a singular attribute, and yet the one describes the other, and that’s the way it is with all of his attributes.

So with all of his attributes, with the key quality being eternality or infinitude or limitless of nature, therefore, secondly, John Owen says, “They are neither infinite, they are either infinite and infinitely perfect, or they are not his attributes. They are either infinite and infinitely perfect, or they’re not. If they are infinite, then if they are not the same with God, there are more things infinite than one.” Right? Okay, so God’s attributes.

Audience: Could you draw a picture of that?

Travis: Not really. God’s, I’m going to, but I’m going to use an illustration that I hope will get to the essence of this, okay? Stick with it.

Audience. Rabbit trail.

Travis: We back? Okay. So God’s attributes, they are either infinite and infinitely perfect or they are not, right, okay? If they are infinite, if his attributes are infinite, and if they are not the same with God, then there are more things that are infinite than one. There’s infinite power, but there’s also God’s in his essence being infinite. There’s two infinite things. And consequently, more gods. Okay? “For that which is absolutely infinite is absolutely perfect and consequently God.” So you can’t have infinite power and infinite God being separate. They’re joined together.

Audience: Also, it’s not like they’re joined together idea of infinite power outside of God, right?

Travis: Right. If they are, so here again, “If they are not infinite, then God knows not himself, for a finite wisdom cannot know perfectly an infinite being.” Again.

Audience: That was great.

Travis: Thank you, Doctor John Owen, because he’s so helpful in this regard. “In other words, any and every statement of attribution we make about God refers to something about his essence that’s both infinite and infinitely perfect. The qualities of infinitude and infinite perfection must be one and the same with the essence of God.”

Because God’s, just stick with me because I think, I think this will become clear. I, look, we can’t, we can’t comprehend all this.

Audience. But at least we can comprehend the guy that’s talking.

Travis: We’re apprehending, we’re apprehending it, but we’re not comprehending this. Because God’s attributes are, in the words of John Owen, essentially the same with one another and everyone the same with the essence of God itself, we can use his attributes to describe one another, right?

So we talk about eternal power. We talk about infinite goodness. We talk about limitless knowledge. We can say that because all that is in God is God. It would seem to us that God’s power is not his wisdom, is not his goodness, is not his eternity, and so on. But if God is simple, and his, 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 with him.  So are we saying that all these individual attributes are one and the same reality? Yes, we are. How do we understand that? Here’s an analogy, and this analogy, a lot of analogies are imperfect. I mean, we try to understand things by making comparisons with other things, but there’s always some imperfection to it, right?

Audience: You can always shoot holes in it.

Travis: You can always shoot, shoot holes in it, but this one’s pretty close, okay? May have more truth to it than being simply analogous, but I’ll leave that to your judgment. Here goes. By revelation, that is general revelation, creation, conscience, all that, and special revelation, the truth of the Word of God, by revelation, the truth about God is communicated to us like light passing through a prism.

So just as a ray of light passes through a prism and is refracted into individual beams of color, so we see red and orange and blue and green and purple, in the same way, God’s essence passes through the prism of his revelation in creation and in Scripture, and comes to us in individual beams, like attributes.

So we can identify as we see his Word, we see his creation, we can identify goodness. We can identify justice and holiness and eternity, omnipotence. But back at the source, passing back through the prism at the essence of his being, all those refractions are united and identical with one another. So the light that passes through the prism of God’s essence is his act of creation, which refracts to us and for us the perfections of his glory.

We see or perceive all these properties, these attributes, perfections. That is in fact what God reveals of himself, condescending to communicate to us, but God is not, in his essence, a collection of these properties, and in, in, in any sense that all the colors are not light. Okay? He simply is.

 Listen to, listen to Berkhof just a second before I get to questions. Listen to Berkhof, page 62, here: “God is not a composite and is not susceptible of division in any sense of the word. This implies, among other things, that the three Persons in the Godhead are not so many parts of which the divine essence is composed, that God’s essence and perfections are not distinct, and that the attributes are not super-added to his essence since the two are one. The Bible can speak of God as light and life, as righteousness and love, thus identifying him with his perfections.”

And this, if I can pause, is why we need to say that his most important attribute is thus or such. God is love, and anybody who says he’s wrath, you can’t say that. Yeah, you cannot elevate one as more important than anything else. You have to say he is all of all. Okay?

“The simplicity of God follows from some of his other perfections, from his self-existence, which includes, excludes the idea that something preceded him, as in the case of compounds, and from his immutability, which could not be predicated of his nature as if it were made up of parts. This perfection was disputed during the Middle Ages, was denied by Socinians and Armenians. Scripture does not explicitly assert it,” Bruce, okay, “Scripture does not explicitly assert it, but implies it where it speaks of God as righteousness, truth, wisdom, light, life, love, and so on, and thus indicates that each of these properties, because of their absolute perfection, is identical with his being.” Okay?

Okay. I’m going to stop and let you ask questions and then I’m going to ask you to think like shepherds, okay? Doug.

Audience: So quickly, your, your analogy goes a little bit deeper in a way because when we look at those, that light, we’re only seeing a tiny fraction of the, the whole, and it goes infinitely far on either side.

Travis: That’s right.

Audience: So we’re we’re just bare, I mean, a tiny fraction of infinite, which actually it means it’s no fraction at all.

Travis: Yeah, what’s a fraction of infinity? Right.

Audience: Which is very cool.

Travis: Which takes us back to the very beginning in Genesis 1. “Let there be light.” “Let there be light.”

Audience: That light is, which is something he created, right?

Travis: Well, so just to be clear, this, I got this analogy from James Dolezal, so if you want more on this, go watch his videos and it’ll help you. It’s, is that a hand raised, or?

Audience: You know, I had this word.

Travis: I know, Doug is long-winded. Go ahead.

Audience: Just like, okay, so that thing by John Owen saying that, that if there was this, this eternal power or an infinite to just infinite outside of God then that would make two Gods.

Travis: If any of his attributes is infinite and infinitely perfect, which they are, then there is something infinite that is not God.

Audience. And so what that does is it just absolutely makes irrelevant an argument like Bertrand Russell says, “Why I cannot believe in God. I can’t believe in God because he’s supposed to be love, and yet all these things happen.” Whereas God is not being held to a standard outside of himself. This, oh, this over here is love, and God is like that, or God is that. It’s that we can only define love in terms of what God is.

Travis: Right.

Audience: So that, so that his argument is ridiculous.

Travis: It’s ridiculous because he tries to set a standard to which God must adhere.

Audience: Yeah.

Travis: And God is himself the standard. The essence of his being is the standard.

Audience: All things are the same. Yeah, and which, when you first said that I was like, I can, I’ll never going to be able to understand that. But you can understand it if you understand that everything is God. I mean, our, well.

Travis: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!

Audience: Every, every, every attribute of God is because God is that.

Travis: Right.

Audience: So that we have to define those things in terms of God. So the more we know the Bible and the more we know God, then the more we will understand things that we think we understand in the abstract. But a lot of times they’re perverted in our understanding.

Travis: Right. True. Yeah. I think I saw Scott then I’ll go back to Dave and come up.

Audience: I guess I’m, I’m struggling with how, okay, every attribute of God is God, and every attribute of God is God’s essence. Is that what, did? I closed my notebook already.

Travis: You just said, “I’m giving up. I’m just.”

Audience: How does that compare?

Travis: All that is, say, so put it this way: All that is in God is God.

Audience: All that is in God is, is God. But we’re not talking about the Trinity, which also boggles the mind.

Travis: Not, we’re not going to talk about the Trinity, yet, but, but that’s talking about the distinction between the Persons of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. But there is, a, but Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all partake of the same essence.

Audience: I go back to the prism thing again.

Travis: Yeah. So the, I mean, it clarified things for me. David.

Audience: Yeah, I think what’s really helpful for me to think about unity is the implication that when God acts, he acts in simplicity. So his act is a single act. And he, doesn’t act out of one of his attributes, merely, but it’s his entire essence acts. So whether it’s an act of love or act of wrath, it’s all of God. And I think more importantly, when we think about that, there’s no, there’s no contrast or contradiction between the attributes in that act.

Travis: Exactly. He’s not, he’s not fighting against himself. He’s not, he’s not keeping his justice at bay while he loves, shows mercy.

Audience: Where we are.

Travis: Where we are, that’s right.

Audience. We, we get full wrath or full of sadness or full of happiness.

Travis: Right. God, God, there is no schizophrenia in God. And he’s acting all, he’s all in, all the time, yeah.

Audience. So the shepherding aspect of that dynamic is so important because we hear, and we talk about God that way all the time, I mean we hear that all the time. “Well, God want, God in his justice wants to punish you for your sin, but in his love, he, you know, decided not to.”

Travis: I know.

Audience. “He sent Jesus,” and that’s not, that’s not.

Travis: We do speak wrongly about God a lot, and this is, this is why this is so important that we can, look, I mean not just communicate rightly about him so that we don’t set one attribute against another and show how he’s warring within himself and just create this confusion for the unbeliever sitting in front of us, but first and foremost, this brings joy to our soul. This brings such joy to our soul to worship him for what he really is, who he really is. Okay, so I’ll, I won’t pontificate.

Audience: There’s no contradiction between the members of the Trinity as well. There’s no contradiction.

Travis: No contradiction. No, no Son keeping the Father’s wrath at bay. Definitely no Mary keeping the Father and Son’s wrath at bay by her fervent prayers for us. Yeah. Nicholas.

Audience. So I kind of just want to re, repeat back to you in my own words some of what you’re saying and see if I’m right. So when you say that the attributes are equal to each other.

Travis: Not not equal to each other but the, but infinitely identical. It’s just I, yeah. It’s like, it’s like saying blue is equal to red. All essentially identical.

Audience: They’re identical, okay, basically that, that means that they’re kind of like light with the, being separated into colors. It’s like the, there’s something fundament, more fundamental than all of them, of which they are all expressions, and that is God, right? So it’s, it’s like, it’s not so much that, yeah, it’s not that they’re the same, but they’re all part.

Travis: Let me, let me have you work this out at, at another time because I, just looked at the time. We probably need to move it on.

Audience: But what I said so far, is that sound decent?

Travis: Perfect, perfect. No, I don’t know if I can, if I could say that, but just, just, okay, so what I, what I’d like to do, though, just with a couple of minutes, and then, I, we need to close, is just, what are the shepherding implications of this? What, what are we?

Audience: Back to what we said last week: Be clear and precise in how we communicate and make sure we are exactly as, as close as we can when we communicate the essence and the truth of God.

Travis: Right. Were you going to say something, Mark?

Audience. No, I’m right with Gary, I was going to say precision.

Travis. Okay, precision about how we speak of God.

Audience. My father-in-law is trying to proselytize my wife to the Catholic Church by asking her, “Well, Bible study’s fine and well, but can you worship there?” And I think this morning answers that question.

Travis. Yeah, that’s right. Sure can. Josh.

Audience: Add to that, I think it, just making sure that we’re keeping this at the, a worshipful mind. Tomorrow morning, our first song, while many of us are setting our coffee down and finishing our conversations, we’ll be singing “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible.” We should all, all of us should just fall down prostrate tomorrow.

Travis. And by the way, do what you, guys, do what you can to shepherd people out of the coffee shop and into the service before the service starts, please. If you’re in conversations, graciously, gently say, “Hey, worship is about to start. Come on, let’s go.” You know, “Let’s go on in.” Try to get people in.

I saw, I noticed last week that there were, when, when the music was going on, I saw in the coffee shop, it was full. And that, guys, we need to get people out of there and into the worship center. But, yeah, “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes. All blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days.”

Audience. It goes back to the subject of, kind of hit me this week, comes from Mohler. But how important is doctrine? And I keep digging into that. And so as we begin to shepherd, how important is doctrine.

Travis: Yeah, that’s right.

Audience: It becomes more imperative.

Travis. That’s right. I, we go back to, remember when I read that passage from Tozer, saying our thoughts about God are the most important thing about us? We have to teach people about “behold your God” because if we behold our God rightly, a thous, as he put it, a thousand problems disappear.

Audience: Yes, they do.

Travis: Absolutely disappear.

Audience: Someone’s argument sounds like nothing, and that was so perplexing to me, yeah, at one point.

Travis: But think, think about a shepherd who’s, it’s not his job to make, to, to work the digestion track of the sheep. It’s just to lead him to good food. “Eat that. Not that. Don’t go in the bramble bushes. Don’t peck around there in the thorns. Come over here. Look at this luscious grass, good water. Drink there, eat there.” That’s what we do as shepherds. We need to point people, rightly, to the good food, not the junk food, not the thorns, but the good food. Yeah.

Audience: I think it’s imperative that while we sit here, we realize that we as believers come to this room and we get this, this sort of this edification right here, we’re going to be professing as shepherds to people who, I mean, I think of myself 20 years ago, I would have walked away from this conversation without a doubt. And that’s as a believer, or as a perceived believer.

So I think that, back to the very beginning of this lesson, we rely on the confidence that God gives us that he does the work and that we are separating completely from that, just having this knowledge, and, and I guess this, having some of that gives us that encouragement to continue on.

Travis: Let me, let me springboard off of that. Just say that, don’t, like, like Nicholas, you’re trying to, let me see if I got this right. I, I mean, I can, I can probably think that, I can imagine myself in the future not getting this right as I speak. And I don’t, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to misspeak about God. I want to speak precisely. And yet sometimes I find myself speaking imprecisely.

We need to point to Christ. The, I think some of the best evangelistic words in Scripture are “Come and see and see for yourself. Read him, study him. Look at the Gospels. Read who Christ is because in him is the image of the invisible God. He’s the radiance of his glory, the exact imprint, the stamp of God’s nature.”

So we don’t, it’s the, the burden, like you’re saying, Wes, the burden is not all on us. Burden’s on God, and he can handle it. And when he sends Jesus Christ, the burden is on Christ, and the burden is on the Spirit. We communicate as rightly and precisely as we can, but listen, the work is done by God, and thanks be to God.

Audience. I agree with what you’re saying, but the world takes that thing and they’re only looking at the orange color in the prism, and they’re going, “I like your Jesus, I don’t like your God.” And they’re, they’re, the vision in their minds, and whenever God acts, they will call this his justice, or they will call this his love and things like that, and they won’t consider that all of those things are present in every one of those acts.

Travis: Right, and so we need to teach and affirm.

Audience: But we’ve got to keep that straight in our own minds, and not let them catch us up in that trap.

Travis. We sure do. We sure do. Yeah, that’s good. Yeah. So it, it just makes the case that we do need to speak rightly about God, right?

Audience. I was just going to add to that, that, I mean once they come to understand Christ, then they start to understand the other attributes of God. And it’s not, we don’t, we’re not totally able to grasp every concept of Christ or God all at one moment.

Travis. Even we ourselves, we’re deepening our knowledge of God. We’ve been Christians maybe for many years, and still, we’re still learning. That’s because he’s infinite. We’re finite. He’s infinite. And so, yeah, we’re going to keep on deepening. So in the same way, we need to expect the same thing for, from others. I got to go to Scott and then to Moses and then John.

Audience. So not only in the Apologetics class do we need to proclaim the Gospel, but we need to proclaim the right, true God, like the the actual God that people these days are deceived about.

Travis. Right, because God is the Gospel. That’s what we’ve been saying. That’s right. We need to, and, and I wouldn’t make a distinction between God and the Gospel and say, you know, or Jesus and the gos, we need to proclaim God. That’s the Gospel.

Audience. I was, when my grandpa said, “I like your Jesus, but I don’t like your God,” they’re basically saying, they’re not talking about anything because Jesus is God. They’re, they’re both one person.

Travis: There, it’s a self-contradictory statement: “I like your God, but I don’t like your God. I like your Go, I like your Jesus, but I don’t like your Jesus.” Same thing, right? I like your God, I like your Jesus, but I don’t like your God. That, they’re making a, an inherently contradictory, self-contradictory statement on the face of it. “I and the Father, I and the Father are one.”

Audience. They enjoy the love, but don’t like the repentance. That’s basically.

Travis: It’s what they’re trying to say. Yeah, John.

Audience: There, there’s another whole aspect here because a lot of time we talk about worship. And it bothers me. Do we really understand what worship is? Because most people associate worship with just words. But when you look at it, worship is associated with service. That’s what he, Christ said: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him alone shalt thou serve.” And even when you look at Christ’s life, was a lot about serving. “I came to,” “I didn’t come to be minister, too; I came to minister,” and to understand if we adore somebody, if we really love that person, there’s an aspect of serving that is involved in this thing.

And I think that also brings out how people, you know, there is the worst, but there’s also the life, and the thing when Christ was standing there, and that was a powerful statement when he says, “Which of you can accuse me of any sin?” That is a huge testimony. I mean he walked the walk and, you know. So I, I worry because everybody emphasizes but forgets the aspect that it’s worship, it’s serving. And you have to, I mean, when Christ was on the cross, he was serving. He came here to serve his Father.

Travis. Give his life as a ransom for many. That’s right. That’s right. Good. Well, I mean, we’ve gone 15 minutes over. I just want to close with this again, thinking about, we need, we need to leave here and teach our families, our friends. We need to teach. That’s what we do as shepherds. We teach and we lead, and we lead people to the, the knowledge of God.

And I go back again where I mentioned before, to the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the wonder that he reveals this to us, that he should make known this unfathomable and fundamentally incomprehensible God to us. The, one of, a favorite song of mine is that, that old hymn, “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” Listen to this.

“Let all mortal flesh keep silence. As with fear and trembling stand, ponder nothing earthly minded. For with blessing in his hand, Christ our God to Earth descending comes, our homage to demand. King of Kings, yet born of Mary as of old on earth he stood, Lord of Lords in human vesture in the body and the blood. He will give to all the faithful his own self for heavenly food. Rank on rank, the host of heaven spreads its vanguard on the way as the light of light descendeth from the realms of endless day comes the powers of Hell to vanquish as the darkness clears away. At his feet the six-winged serif, cherubim with sleepless eye, veil their faces to the presence, as with ceaseless voice they cry, ‘Allelujah, Allelujah, Allelujah, Lord most high.’”

That in, in my mind, just takes my mind up. And I like that opening line, line, or, you know, that opening verse. “Ponder nothing earthly minded.” We, you’ve heard that saying, “That guy’s so heavenly minded he’s of no earthly good”? I understand what people mean by that. But truly, if you look at Colossians 3:1-4, “Set your mind on things above,” be heavenly minded so that you can be of some earthly good, right?

Okay, so we’ve talked about God without body, God’s immortal, life-giving spirit. We’ve talked about God without parts. He’s singular and unique. He’s simple, non-composite being. He’s also, thirdly, God without body parts or passions. The third distinction, distinctive has to do with the unchangeableness of God, and we’ll get to that next time, so keep doing your reading. And we’ll come back. Let’s pray.

Father, thank you for teaching us. Thank you for who you are, what you are in your essence. Thank you for sending the Lord Jesus Christ to image you, to make the invisible God visible. And we thank you for drawing us into the fellowship of the Father and with the Son. We thank you for sending us the light and life, love and justice, mercy, goodness, every attribute of er, of yours, which really goes back to your essential nature. This is who you are.

And we thank you that we’ve come to understand that just a little bit more today, and we ask that you would stir within our hearts to worship you, to obey you, as John said, to serve you, and to serve one another, giving ourselves for others. And we want to do that first and foremost by teaching others what we’ve learned. Help us to never be a cul-de-sac of knowledge and truth, but help us to be a conduit through which you bless others.

Thank you for who you made us as men, shepherds, theologians. We just ask for your help to be speaking rightly about you, and to be used of you for fruitfulness to bring glory to you, to your son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.