QUESTION 7. What are the decrees of God?
ANSWER: The decrees of God are his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath foreordained whatsoever comes to pass.
The decrees of God
What characterises the Decrees of God?
Wisdom Eph 3:9-11 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: one other there….? Eternal
Effectual Is 46:9 I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Unchangable Job 23:13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. Why so? Because of he is faithful and true.
Acts 4:27-28. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
Unconditional Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
What else from this verse? Comprehensive: which also means that it includes contingent events… Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.
Berkhov says: ‘its [God’s decrees] execution does not depend on any action of man but even renders such action certain’. (p42 Summary of Christian Doctrine)
2 Kings 13:14 Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. 15 And Elisha said unto him, Take bow and arrows. And he took unto him bow and arrows. 16 And he said to the king of Israel, Put thine hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it: and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. 17 And he said, Open the window eastward. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance, and the arrow of deliverance from Syria: for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them. 18 And he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said unto the king of Israel, Smite upon the ground. And he smote thrice, and stayed. 19 And the man of God was wroth with him, and said, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times; then hadst thou smitten Syria till thou hadst consumed it: whereas now thou shalt smite Syria but thrice.
Doctrine of Decrees of God are inconsistent with the moral freedom of man
God has decreed that man is responsible for his actions. We may not be able to reconcile these
It makes people lazy in seeking salvation
Man does not know what God has decreed concerning him: Deut 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
God has not only decreed our eternal end but also the means. Therefore the end is the result of the decreed means, it should encourage not dissuade us to seek God – TODAY!
It makes God the author of sin
“The decree merely makes God the author of free moral beings, who are themselves the authors of sin. Sin is made certain by the decree, but God does not Himself produce it by His direct action… it is a mystery which we cannot fully solve.” (Berkhov p43)
Psalm 33:11. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
Ephesians 1:11. In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.
Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Romans 9:22-23. What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.
Romans 11:33. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
How are the means and the ends decreed?
God uses means to accomplish his decrees:
2Thes2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Can you give examples of how God’s decreed means and his decreed ends are connected?
Fisher: From the preservation of Paul, and those who were with him in the ship; God had decreed to preserve them all, Acts 27:24; yet lawful means were to be used; the shipmen must not get leave to flee out of the ship, otherwise the rest cannot be saved, as Paul tells the centurion and the soldiers, ver. 31.
How is are the decrees of God concerning the sending of Christ into the world to save us revealed in the Bible?
Is 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
This prophesy was a sign to Ahaz and others of his time because it implied the survival of the Jews so that Messiah could come.
Jews and others object that ‘virgin’ here should be translated as ‘young maiden’ – i.e. not a miraculous birth. But Matthew Poole asserts:
1. This word is always used for a virgin in the Old Testament
2. Why would it be a remarkable sign, as was required of Ahaz to ask for if it were simply a woman that was meant and not also someone who conceived miraculously?
3. That ‘shall call’ signifies the naming of the child by the mother, he having no human father whose duty this would have been.
Immanuel – God and man meeting in one person! John 1:14 ‘And the Word was made flesh’ – text is not bound to refer to the personal name but his nature and office.
A glimpse into the eternal counsels of God
The Father and the Spirit involved in appointing Christ
Is 42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
2 He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.
3 A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.
4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.
5 Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
6 I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;
7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
Is 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
We began with singing, ‘God is in his temple’, alluding to this morning’s sermon on Haggai and the glory of the temple because of the presence of Christ. The Christian is himself a ‘temple’ too…
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Cor 6:19)
This section of questions deal with the nature of God, Q4 asks ‘What is God?’, Q5, Are there more Gods than one? The ‘unity of God’. Q6 How many persons are there in the Godhead?
Building on these about the nature of God, we then enter the area of the works of God. But first we gave more time to talking about the Trinity, which was rather truncated last time around.
Councils of Nicea (325 AD) – the Son co-essential with the Father – and Constantinople (381 AD) assert the deity of the Holy Spirit.
The creeds are used by some, especially Charismatics, to say that the church has always somehow given too little attention to the Holy Spirit. But the controversy of the day was concerning the person of Christ and that affected salvation so this featured strongly in the early credal statements. Since then we have further controversy and so we have larger statements of doctrine, such as the Westminster Confession, etc. But the Person of the Holy Spirit clearly wants to exalt Christ:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
Picking up James Fisher’s questions, we asked whether it was possible to be a Christian without holding to the doctrine of the Trinity. Although reluctant to be harsh in this matter, this doctrine is bound up in our view of salvation because of the need for the Three to be involved as God and the Son to be both fully man and fully God. Confusion in this area is understandable but rejecting the teaching altogether is a serious symptom of a lack of willingness to come under the clear teaching of the scriptures.
Q. 37. Could the Trinity of persons, in the unity of essence, have been discovered by the light of nature?
A. By no means: for then it would be no mystery, seeing divine mysteries are such secrets, as the wisdom of man could never have found out, Matt. 11:27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 1 Cor. 2:9, 10, 14.9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Q. 29. Is it proper to say, that the Father is the fountain of the Deity?
A. The expression is dangerous, and now used by adversaries in an unsound sense, to exclude self-existence and independency from the Son and Holy Ghost, and therefore is to be avoided.
Q. 38. Is it OK to explain the doctrine of the Trinity by natural illustrations? [lawful to explain this mystery by natural similitudes?]
A. No; for there is no similitude amongst all the creatures, that has the remotest resemblance to this adorable mystery of the three one God. By making similes or comparisons of this kind, men have become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish minds have been darkened, Rom. 1:21-26 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 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. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:; and therefore, as this doctrine is entirely a matter of faith, it becomes us to adore it, without prying curiously into what is not revealed.
Q. 39. If we say that there are 3 persons in the Godhead, does this mean they are separate or divided, or that division is possible? [Does the asserting of three persons in the Godhead, with distinct personal properties, infer any separation, or division, in the divine essence?]
A. No; for the persons in the Godhead are not separated, but distinguished from one another, by their personal properties. As the unity of the essence does not confound the persons, so neither does the distinction of persons imply any division of the essence, 1 John 5:7.
Q. 41. How is our worship to be directed to this three-one God?
A. We are to worship the Father, in Christ the Son, by the Spirit; and thus, when we pray, we are to ask the Father, in the name of the Son, by the Holy Ghost, Eph. 2:18 and 5:20.
Q. 42. Will not this mystery be more fully known and displayed in heaven?
A. Yes; for, says Christ, “at that day ye shall know, that I am in my Father,” John 14:20; 1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Q. 43. How are we comforted by this doctrine of the Trinity?
A. That the gift of eternal life, in the promise and offer of the gospel, to sinners of mankind, is attested by the three famous witnesses in heaven, who are above all exception, 1 John 5:7, 11; and consequently, that a portion infinitely rich, is insured by the covenant of grace to all those who believe, when it makes over all the three persons to them, as their God, Jer. 31:33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts
This mindmap represents my notes from the Doctrine Class this afternoon, the final one from Question 4:
How ‘Goodness’ differs from ‘Mercy’?
What are its properties
What it amounts to
How is God’s goodness seen in his design of salvation?
How does it appear in the execution of our redemption?
- Psalm 119:68. ‘Thou art good, and doest good.
- This relative goodness is nothing else but his mercy, which is an innate propenseness in God to pity and succour such as are in misery. TWatson
- ‘The Lord is good to all’ (Ps. 145:9) even the worst! Name your ‘Trophies of grace’
- Paul: ‘Who was before a persecutor, and injurious; but I obtained mercy’ (1 Tim. 1:13). [The example of Doreen Irvine was an inspiration to one of our number, who had said to themselves that ‘If she could be saved, then there was hope for me’! ]
- The Goodness of God leads you to repentance Rom 2:4
- He loves righteousness and justice: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD. Ps33:5
- ‘I will love them freely’ (Hos. 14:4)
- Rev 22:17 the Spirit and the bride say , Come . And let him that heareth say , Come . And let him that is athirst come . And whosoever will , let him take the water of life freely.
- Neh 9:17 And refused to obey , neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
- Psalm 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
- Go to God in prayer with confidence in this mercy; as when one goes to a fire, not doubtingly, saying, perhaps it will warm me, perhaps not.
- Do not abuse this goodness: ‘Mercy is not for them that sin and fear not, but for them that fear and sin not.’ TWatson
- Sheer extent is great topic for meditation: Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies’ (Ps. 103:4), “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” 1 Cor. 2:9. And Psalm 31:19 — “O! how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.” This is more than condescension… it is overwhelming, overflowing goodness
How it should affect us
O God, my hope, my heavenly rest,My all of happiness below,Grant my importunate request,To me, to me, thy goodness show;Thy beatific face display,The brightness of eternal day.2. Before my faith’s enlightened eyesMake all thy gracious goodness pass;Thy goodness is the sight I prize,O might I see thy smiling face!Thy nature in my soul proclaim,Reveal thy love, thy glorious name!3. There, in the place beside thy throne,Where all that find acceptance stand,Receive me up into thy Son;Cover me with thy mighty hand;Set me upon the rock, and hideMy soul in Jesu’s wounded side.4. O put me in the cleft; empowerMy soul the glorious sight to bear!Descend in this accepted hour,Pass by me, and thy name declare;Thy wrath withdraw, thy hand remove,And show thy self the God of love.5. To thee, great God of love! I bow,And prostrate in thy sight adore;By faith I see thee passing now;I have, but still I ask for more,A glimpse of love cannot suffice,My soul for all thy presence cries.6. I cannot see thy face, and live,Then let me see thy face, and die!Now, Lord, my gasping spirit receive,Give me on eagles’ wings to fly,With eagles’ eyes on thee to gaze,And plunge into the glorious blaze.7. The fulness of my vast rewardA blest eternity shall be;But hast thou not on earth preparedSome better thing than this for me?What, but one drop! one transient sight!I want a sun, a sea of light.8. Moses thy backward parts might view,But not a perfect sight obtain;The Gospel doth thy fulness showTo us, by the commandment slain;The dead to sin shall find the grace,The pure in heart shall see thy face.9. More favoured than the saints of old,Who now by faith approach to theeShall all with open face beholdIn Christ the glorious Deity;Shall see, and put the Godhead on,The nature of thy sinless Son.10. This, this is our high calling’s prize!Thine image in thy Son I claim;And still to higher glories rise,Till all transformed I know thy name,And glide to all my heaven above,My highest heaven in Jesu’s love.
These notes were used in the doctrine class held on Sunday the 28th May 2012.
Q4: What is God? Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
1. Introducing ‘Justice’
Indignant Justice stood in view, To Sinai’s firey mount I flew, But Justice cried with frowning face, “This mountain is no hiding place!” (Jehoiada Brewer)
Essential to God’s Character and even his creation: ‘moral universe’
2Cor5:11 ‘knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men’
Heb12: 29 ‘For our God is a consuming fire. ‘
Mat25:41 ‘Depart from me’
Bound up with God’s Name.
Ex 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, 7Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. 8And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
I would that we came to the place where we could give thanks at the remembrance of his justice (as we did for His ‘holiness’ before).
Justice is essential to the operation of the cosmos
Who makes the laws? Who decides what is right? Without God, all is up for grabs! Relativistic chaos.
The word “justice” itself is based on the latin word “jus,” which means “law.” Therefore, justice would seem to mean “carrying out of the law.” And, if law is the will of God expressed as a “rule of action,” then to do justice is to carry out the will of God when expressed as a legal rule. Studies in the Laws of Nature’s God by Gerald R. Thompson http://www.lonang.com/foundation/1/f1C.htm (link)
Law making and Law enforcing
Equity – where there is a shortfall in ‘law’, equity is called upon to see that the right outcome prevails
Holiness of God, How is holiness different?
Righteousness? Tozer says its the same.
Justice relies on Omniscience of God, Wisdom of God: Solomon’s wisdom was arguably most highly manifested in his equitable judgements
Inscrutability of God
Tozer: God is never at cross-purposes with himself!
Is55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Ex33:19 I ‘will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
Ex33:17 And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. 18And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. 19And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.
2. Justice of God in the Scriptures
Activity: Pick a passage – do you see God’s justice there?
Judges 11:27 “the Lord the Judge” : Jephthah’s speech to ‘the children of Ammon’: Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the LORD the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.
Gen18:25 ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?’
1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. 10Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
2 Chron Josiah commended but still the judgement would come
2 Pet 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Judgement seat of Christ and the ‘Day of Judgement’ itself.
1And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. 2And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. 3And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. 4Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.
2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Prov11:1 A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight.
Heb10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
3. Greatest display of Justice of God
How is the judgement/justice of God glorified in the gospel?
Sinners own his sentence and marvel at their redemption, unrepentants are damned and punished and continuously prove they are worthy of their deserts.
Luke5:8 When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.
‘Emmot’s testimony from John Ashworth’s Amazing Conversions (Tentmaker Publications)
At the cross – the nature of judgement is most glorious since the sentence was passed even upon the Son. God is ‘no respecter of persons’. Acts 10:34
And can we imagine ‘it’ll be alright’?!? That is the sinner’s recourse, ‘I’ll swing it’, banking on their personality. Even traffic wardens get familiar and lenient and have to be changed, but God is no repecter of persons and will reward the works of all.
Is28:15 Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.
God’s Justice ‘Guarantees the final safety of all who put their trust in Him’ Tozer p114 because payment was made in full at the cross and cannot be demanded twice.
Love for and vindication of fatherless and widows, James re. Rich men.
Jas1:27 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
cf. Divinity of Christ Acts10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
‘If God should delay judgement of UK he’s going to owe Sodom an apology’ non-sense. They have a point but thinking that ‘Justice’ requires God to do x, y or z, is silly. ‘All God’s reasons come from within His uncreated being’ Tozer p116
Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men. If the sovereignty of God blunts your evangelism, meditate on the justice of God and the gospel,
Golden rule of equity: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12
Lecture by Samuel Davies http://www.biblebb.com/files/davies/rule_of_equity.htm (link)
‘vengeance is mine’ Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
‘The Day shall reveal it’ Whitfield
Read Psalm 18, Sing ‘Praise my soul the King of Heaven’
Q4 What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Power: there is power to act,
Wisdom see ends and means, Power to enact them.
Q. 1. What is the Power of God?
Jeremiah 32:17. Ah Lord God, behold thou hast made the Heavens, and the Earth by thy great power, and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.
Child asks, ‘Can he lift a car?’ But we barely ascend higher as we try to grasp what God’s power this means… considering the difficulty we have envisaging anything outside our immediate experience. What is the heaviest thing you have lifted? At least that is within the realms of our understanding. We were sharing the hotel on Friday night with Newcastle Falcons professional rugby team and the size of rugby players is quite awesome, yet, as we have seen, there is still a place for smaller, nippy types. Great power struggles to be kept under control. But God is not some clumsy oversized oaf.
Man’s power is at it’s height in destruction – as a child I lived through the 70’s with the constant threat of ‘cold war’ supernova blowing the planet to bits. But if such an explosion should happen, God could track the path of every atom and bring them back into their right place. In fact he has undertaken to do just that! The resurrection! What power!
What is power? What types are there?
Ps18 the power to delegate, bestow, enable, or give power.
Power of God to make different forms of energy: light, heat, chemical, kinetic, potential,
But the ‘light in my darkness’ – what kind of power is that? Spiritual too – over ‘shadow of death’
Power to endure…
Creativity – world thinks discord or graffiti as creative, vacuum cleaner music, ‘new’, but God…
He can do one thing as easily as anything else (but note redemption). But God is not diminished by this… Entropy does not affect Him, ‘He gives but He does not give away’ Tozer.
Cruise of oil, I think of the gospel like that, omnipotent blood of Jesus,
Flavel asks: Q. 4. Are there some things which God cannot do?
A. Yes, there are, but they are such things as are inconsistent with his truth and holiness. Titus 1:2. …which God that cannot lie. 2 Timothy 2:13. He cannot deny himself.
Q. If God’s power is unlimited, why do his people struggle under their burdens so?
A. His strength is made perfect in weakness. David encouraged himself in God.
- 1 Samuel 30:6 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. 1 Samuel 30:5-7 (in Context) 1 Samuel 30 (Whole Chapter)
But power can also mean Authority:
Contrast David’s authority and legitimacy with pretenders to the throne: Absalom: schemer, Mephibosheth: even the idea!, Sheba: man of Beliel, Adonijah: userper.
Power to set laws, ‘an external rule enforced by authority’, laws of ‘nature’ (Tozer). But this force is a Person!
Applications: Our motto should be ‘By his grace’
14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.
16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.
Jas 4 14-17
God is not a miser. ‘My grace is sufficient’, ask of me, anything!
As we age, fade and diminish, ‘God endures unchanging on’. Hang upon him.
Flavel: Q. 5. What is the first thing inferred from God’s Power?
A. That all the Creatures necessarily depend on him for what ability they have, and without the permission of the supreme Power they can do us no hurt. John 19:11. Thou couldest have no power against me except it were given thee from above.
Q. 6. What is the second Inference from hence?
A. That the difficulties which lie in the way of the Promises, need be no stumbling-blocks to our Faith. Romans 4:20-21. He staggered not at the Promises through unbelief, being fully persuaded, that what he had promised he was able also to perform.
Q. 7. What is the third Inference from this Attribute?
A. The Saints need not be scared at the greatness of their sufferings: their God can carry them through. Daniel 3:17. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.
Q. 8. What is the fourth Inference?
A. That the Salvation of God’s People is certain, whatever their dangers be, being kept by this mighty Power. 2 Peter 1:5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith to Salvation.
Q. 9. What is the last Inference hence?
A. That the state of the damned is unconceivably miserable. Their Punishment proceeding from the glory of the Almighty. 2 Thessalonians 1:9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.
These ‘inferences’ and some other points are from John Flavel’s work on the shorter catechism.
Q. 2. What evidence have we before our eyes of the Almighty Power of God?
A. It appears in the Creation of the World. Romans 1:20. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal Power and Godhead. And its Sustentation. Hebrews 1:3. Who upholdeth all things by the word of his Power.
Q. 3. Did God’s Power ever act its utmost?
A. No, he can do more than ever he did, or ever will do. Matthew 3:9. God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. Matthew 26:53.