Question 4c: Infinite, Eternal

Q4 What is God?

Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

Human sources for this study were Louis Berkhov, Thomas Watson, AW Tozer and Malcolm Watts.
We sung ‘Eternal Light’ and read Psalm 90.

God is a Spirit

Ezekiel 1: A spirit has life and being, yet without a body (cf. Luke 24:39), conscious personality, names (Michael, Gabriel, etc.).
Is 31:3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.
Man is flesh but also a spirit. Heb 12:9…
9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Our earthly fathers and we possess a common nature. As God is our Father, so we are spirit, not just body. But he is pure Spirit.

Before we proceed, we pause to consider that, ‘the world by wisdom knew not God’ (1 Cor 1:21) and acknowledge that we cannot ‘find out the Almighty unto perfection’ (Job 11:6).

Traditional  division of Incommunicable and communicable attributes of God
Infinite, eternal – differences?

MW: infinite refers to space, eternal refers to time. Berkov says infinite is an overarching term, referring to most of God’s attributes. He also notes that infinite is a negative term – there is no positive way of expressing what God is, we can only go from what we are familiar with, the finite, and say, ‘well, God is not like that’.

Eternal

We are so ‘time driven’, ‘God dwells in eternity but time dwells in God’ Tozer p57
Imagine an infinitely long piece of paper extending in two directions, draw a short line on that and you have a picture of time – CS Lewis, quoted by Tozer p57
‘From ever lasting to everlasting’ Ps 90:2 ‘From the vanishing point to the vanishing point’ Tozer p56
Eternal – why should hell be forever when sin is committed in a short time? See Thomas Watson.
Are not the souls and spirits immortal? yet theirs is derived – given, not innate – MW
‘May the knowledge of thy eternity not be wasted upon me’ Tozer p59
 Application – our sin is ever before Him (Ps 51) – should terrify us!
But this also applies to the love of God, so that He has ever loved and has been continually drawing us in lovingkindness (Jer 31:3).
Yet I may love thee too O Lord, almighty as thou art,
For thou hast stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart. (Faber)

Revival: What is it? 22 January 2012

In the first of a series on Revival, Brian Clee led us in considering ‘What is Revival?’.
His sources were Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Rev W. V. Higham, the sermons of the latter are available free to download from the www.WVHigham.org
We find the term in numerous verses, Hab 3:2, Ps 138:7, Ps 85:6 Firstly we observed that it is not possible to revive something that is dead. It is incorrect to think that revival is ‘many being converted’. Revival is primarily a work within the church, and the blessed effects spill out into the world around, often resulting in an increase in conversions.
Secondly, in conversion, the Holy Ghost comes to a person and brings spiritual life. We can be anxious about what might happen in a revival based on accounts we might read but, Mr Higham has pointed out that revival can be thought of in terms of a heightening of the ‘normal’ extraordinary workings of the Holy Ghost.
It is important to note, just like in the life of an individual Christian, that, even when we are not feeling especially close to the Lord, that he continues to work. We were asked to think back if we could remember times which, although not revival, were nevertheless touches of his presence. One remembered the eagerness and earnestness for informal meetings which concentrated on fellowship around the things of God. Another remembered meetings where there were struck silences and time passing without noticing, as Mr Higham has said, ‘shards of eternity thrust into time’. Weeping seems to accompany an especial measure of God’s presence, weeping because of an intensified sense of personal sin and unworthiness, mixed with joy in the Holy Ghost.
Three things: preaching, people and power. True religion is more than notion, something must be known and felt. God’s hand was upon Mr Higham: there was always a sense of the greatness of God. And the people came, from 1966 or so onwards, the church gradually filled up. Many said they didnt know why they had found themselves in the church and then wanted to know who had told the preacher they were coming and all about them – they felt exposed in the sermon. The presence of God: an awareness of purity and mercy in the gospel, yet battles within and from without the church.
What is revival then? ‘Sudden, sustained presence of God’. Yet there is a longing and a praying before the ‘sudden’… a sharpened focus on the Bible. It is another dimension, a visitation, an outpouring, and invasion of God with his people. Days of heaven upon earth. We are grateful for any work of God, but how we need revival. It has almost reached the status of myth, with a few lone ‘believers’, isolated and humoured, they are easilly brushed aside as mere ‘misty eyed ones’, in all our planning and programming. But, as Thomas Charles said in 1791,

Unless we are favoured with frequent revivals, and a strong, powerful work of the spirit of God, we shall in great degree, degenerate, and have only a name to live by; religion will soon lose its vigour, the ministry will hardly retain its lustre and glory; and iniquity will, of consequence, abound.


Thinking ahead: ‘infinite, eternal’

Greetings in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Whether or not you arrive at the Doctrine Class tomorrow, I hope to move on in Q4 to consider ‘infinite, eternal’ and possibly ‘unchangeable’. I am not asking you to necessarily take any time to read around these terms. But I would like to get you thinking along the lines of this question:
What is the most helpful thing you can recall coming across that moved you on in attempting to understand the words ‘infinite’ and ‘eternal’? (Especially in regard to God)

For example, perhaps it was an experience when you were a child of looking up at the stars, perhaps it was a bible verse, hymn, or a (verbal) illustration in a book. Perhaps it was last Sunday morning’s sermon 😉

It need not be anything that strikes you as especially unique. I only want to prime you, whether or not you even feel able to share it at the meeting. Perhaps adding a comment to this blog is more your kind of thing – please feel free to do so.


Question 4b: God is a Spirit

God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Worth memorising!!

The question assumes the existence of God, does not set out to prove God, as useful as that might be. Why not who is God? OUR question is more preliminary.

What is God – What answers might you get for that question?

Can we even ask this question and properly answer it?!
Flavel says ‘no’, quoting Job 11:7. Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? To know God to perfection, you have to be God.
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

But we should not be discouraged: The Lord says ‘And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.’ John 17:3
We were made to know God. We have his Word, and, Holy Spirit helping us, we can know Him.

Even mere humans can be mysterious enough! Who has plumbed the depths of what a human is – the brain confounds science. How much more the eternal God that made it??!

What is God?

Last time we looked at three statements in the Bible which answer directly to this question:
(1.) That God is light, 1 John 1:5.
(2.) That God is love, 1 John 4:8, 16.
(3.) That God is a Spirit, John 4:24.

There are others, such as, ‘Our God is a consuming fire’, but here we begin to touch on the attributes of God, rather than His essence, although no distinction is really possible, remembering the biblical doctrine of the ‘simplicity of God’ – that He and His attributes are one.

Why is God said to be a Spirit?
What IS spirit? We remind ourselves of two definitions given last time:

Malcom Watts: God is necessarily and essentially a living intelligent substance; incorruptible, incorporeal, without flesh, or bones, or bodily parts
Flavel: God is an immaterial substance, of a pure, subtile, unmixed essence, not compounded of body and soul, without all extension of parts. (subtile – Latin subtilis (finely woven))

Luke 24:39. “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”
Is 31:3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.

1. God is real

Malcolm Watts: “God is real, not a myth not an idea, dream, a fantasy, not even a hope. He is a spirit. The wind is mysterious but it exists’.
‘God has the quality of being a spiritual being’  John Henry Bennetch 1950 http://www.amnightwatch.com/mwr3n2.htm#footnote2

Therefore men are not content with inanimate material things. A pet can help us feel less lonely. Humans are social, but they are also spiritual: spiritually alive or spiritually dead. We want the company of spiritually compatible beings. Spiritually dead people find spiritually alive people confusing and vica versa. But ultimately we cannot find ultimate contentment in anything less than to be in fellowship with the Eternal Spirit. (John 17:3) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. John 10:10 I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

2. He is without a body. Immaterial.

Romans 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
“The Spiritual God made with ‘stuff’???!!!! as if He could be likened to the material things???!!!” Malcolm Watts
‘Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord.’ (Jer. 23:24)

3. He is invisible

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time
1 Tim 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Beware heresy here – mormons believe that God has a physical shape AND body.
We can usually account for the passages where we read of the appearance of God to human eyes from three angles (apart from dreams and visions): anthropomorphism, thophany, and pre-incarnation appearances of the Son of God.

How can we apply this tremendous teaching?

How we need to guard our spirits – our bodies yes, but our spirits. Compare 1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s and 2 Cor 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God

If, as Christians, our highest aspect is our spirit, now regenerate, now the Temple of the Holy Ghost, and the body this earthly clay, unregenerate, yet mortifiable, how dare we casually sin in our spirits?! We should double the guards of our mind, our eyes and ears!