I. THE NATURE OF GOD
A. The Spirituality of God “God is Spirit.”
1. STATEMENT OF THE FACT, JOHN 4:24: “GOD IS SPIRIT.”
Meaning: The Samaritan woman’s question,“Where is God to be found?” etc. On Mt. Zion or Gerizim? Christ’s answer: God is not to be confined to any one place (cf. Acts 7:48; 17:25; 1 Kings 8:27). God must be worshipped in spirit as distinguished from place, form, or other sensual limitations (John 4:21); and in truth as distinguished from false conceptions resulting from imperfect knowledge (4:22).
Luke 24:39: “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Col. 1:15: “The image of the invisible God.”
1 Tim. 1:17 (R.V.): “Now unto the King incorruptible, invisible.”
These passages teach that God has nothing of a material or bodily nature. Sight sees only objects of the material world, but God is not of the nature of the material world, hence He cannot be seen with the material eye—at least not now.
2. CAUTIONS AGAINST REPRESENTING GOD BY GRAVEN IMAGES
Exod. 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself [a]an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.” (Deut. 4:15–23; Isa. 40:25).
3. DEFINITION OF “GOD IS SPIRIT” IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THIS
God is invisible, incorporeal, without parts, without body, without passions, and therefore free from all limitations; He is apprehended not by the senses, but by the soul; hence God is above sensuous perceptions.
4. QUESTIONS AND PROBLEMS WITH REFERENCE TO THE STATEMENT THAT “GOD IS SPIRIT.”
(a) What shall we do with statements like MAN WAS MADE “IN THE IMAGE OF GOD”?
(Gen 1:26-27; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24) By that is Meant that the Image of God in Man Consisted in Intellectual and Moral Likeness Rather Than Physical Resemblance.
(b) WHAT IS MEANT BY THE ANTHROPOMORPHIC EXPRESSIONS USED OF GOD?
For example: God is said to have hands, feet, arms, eyes, ears; He sees, feels, hears, walks, etc. Such expressions are to be understood only in the sense of being human expressions used in order to bring the infinite within the comprehension of the finite. How otherwise could we understand God saving by means of human expressions, in figures that we all can understand!
(c) HOW ARE SUCH PASSAGES AS EXOD. 24:10 AND 33:18–23, IN WHICH IT IS DISTINCTLY STATED THAT MEN SAW THE GOD OF ISRAEL, TO BE RECONCILED WITH SUCH PASSAGES AS JOHN 1:18: “NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD AT ANY TIME,” AND EXOD. 33:20: “THERE SHALL NO MAN SEE ME AND LIVE”? ANSWER:
(aa) Spirit Can Be Manifested in Visible Form:
John 1:32: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove [or in the form of a dove].” So throughout the ages the invisible God has manifested Himself in visible form. (See Judges 6:34: The Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon.)
(bb) On This Truth is Based the Doctrine of “The Angel of the Lord”
In the Old Testament: Gen. 16:7, 10, 13. Note here how the Angel of the Lord is identified with Jehovah Himself, cf. vv. 10, 13. Also Gen. 22:12—“The angel of the Lord … not withheld from me.” In 18:1–16, one of the three angels clearly and definitely identifies himself with Jehovah. Compare chapter 19, where it is seen that only two of the angels have come to Sodom; the other has remained behind. Who was this one, this remaining angel? Gen. 18:17, 20 answers the question; v. 22 reads: “And Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” In Exod. 13:21 it is Jehovah, while in 14:19 it is the Angel that went before Israel. Thus was the way prepared for the incarnation, for the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament is undoubtedly the second person of the Trinity. This seems evident from Judges 13:18 compared with Isa. 9:6, in both of which passages, clearly referring to Christ, the name “Wonderful” occurs. Also the omission of the definite article “the” from before the expression “Angel of the Lord,” and the substitution of “an” points to the same truth. This change is made in the Revised Version.
- While man’s ground of existence is outside of himself, God’s existence is not dependent upon anything outside of himself.
Exod 3:14 “I am who I am.”
John 8:58 “Before Abraham I am.”
Isaiah 41:4 “Who has performed and accomplished it, Calling forth the generations from the beginning?
‘I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last. I am He.’”
Rev 1:8 ““I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “ who is and who was and who [a]is to come, the Almighty.”
- God is infinite in relation to space.
- He is not limited or circumscribed by space
- On the contrary, all finite space is dependent upon him.
- He is, in fact, above space.
1 Kings 8:27 ““But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!
2 Chron 2:6 “But who is able to build a house for Him, for the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain Him? So who am I, that I should build a house for Him, except to [a]burn incense before Him?”
Ps 113:4-6; 139:7f; Isa 66:1; Jer 23:24; Acts 17:24-28
- God is also infinite in relation to time
- He is without beginning or end
- He is free from all succession of time
- He is the cause of time
Gen 21:33 He is called “the Everlasting God”
Ps 90:2 “From everlasting to everlasting, you are God.”
Ps 102:27 “You are the same, and your years will not come to an end.”
Isa 57:15 “The high and exalted One Who lives forever.”
1 Tim 6:16 “God alone possesses immortality.”
II. The Attributes of God
A. Incommunicable Attrbiutes
1. THE OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD
- By the omnipresence of God is meant that God is everywhere present.
- This attribute is closely connected with the omniscience and omnipotence of God, for if God is everywhere present He is everywhere active and possesses full knowledge of all that transpires in every place.
- This does not mean that God is everywhere present in a bodily sense, nor even in the same sense; for there is a sense in which He may be in heaven, His dwelling place, in which He cannot be said to be elsewhere.
- God is everywhere and in every place; His center is everywhere; His boundaries nowhere.
- But this presence is a spiritual and not a material presence; yet it is a real presence.
(1) SCRIPTURAL STATEMENT OF THE FACT
Jer. 23:23, 24 ““Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? 24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “ Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” (Psa. 10:1-14).
Psa. 139:7-12 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
Isaiah 66:1 “Thus says the Lord, “ Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool.
Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest?”
Acts 17:24-28—“For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”
- Without His upholding hand we must perish;
- God is our nearest environment.
- From these and many other scriptures we are clearly taught that God is everywhere present and acting; there is no place where God is not.
This does not mean that God is everywhere present in the same sense. For we are told that He is in heaven, His dwelling place (1 Kings 8:30); that Christ is at His right hand in heaven (Eph. 1:20); that God’s throne is in heaven (Rev. 21:2; Isa. 66:1).
(2) SOME PRACTICAL INFERENCES FROM THIS DOCTRINE
First, of Comfort: The nearness of God to the believer. After dwelling on this great and awful attribute in Psalm 139, the psalmist, in vv. 17, 18, exclaims: “How precious are your thoughts to me … when I awake, I am still with You.” By this is meant that God stands by our side to help, and as One who loves and understands us (Matt. 28:20).
Second, of Warning: “As in the Roman empire the whole world was one great prison to a malefactor, and in his flight to the most distant lands the emperor could track him, so under the government of God no sinner can escape the eye of the judge.”
Hebrews 4:13 “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
2. THE OMNISCIENCE OF GOD
- God is infinite in Knowledge
- He knows himself and all other things perfectly from all eternity, whether they be actual or merely possible, whether they be past, present, or future.
- He knows things immediately, at the same time, exhaustively, and truly.
(1) SCRIPTURES SETTING FORTH THE FACT OF GOD’S OMNISCIENCE
Isa. 40:28—“There is no searching of his understanding.” Israel’s captive condition might lead to loss of trust and faith in God. But Israel has not seen all God’s plans—no man has.
Job 37:16—“The wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge.” Could Job explain the wonders of the natural phenomena around him? Much less the purposes and judgments of God.
Psa. 147:5—“His understanding is infinite.”
1 John 3:20—“God knows all things.” Our hearts may pass over certain things, and fail to see some things that should be confessed. God, however, sees all things.
Rom. 11:33—“How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out.” The mysterious purposes and decrees of God touching man and his salvation are beyond all human comprehension.
In detail, and by way of illustration:
(aa) His Knowledge is Absolutely Comprehensive.
Prov. 15:3—“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good.” How could He reward and punish otherwise? Not one single thing occurring in any place escapes His knowledge.
Prov 5:21—“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponder all his goings.” We may have habits hidden from our fellow creatures, but not from God.
(bb) God Has a Perfect Knowledge of All that is in Nature.
Psa. 147:4—“He tell the number of the stars; he call them all by their names.” Man cannot (Gen. 15:5).
How, then, can Israel say, “My way is hid from the Lord”? Cf. Isa. 40:26, 27.
Matt. 10: 29—“One … sparrow shall not fall to the ground without your Father.” Much less would one of His children who perchance might be killed for His name’s sake fall without His knowledge.
(cc) God Has a Perfect Knowledge of All that Transpires in Human Experience.
Prov. 5:21—“For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponder all his goings.” All a man’s doings are weighed by God. How this should affect his conduct!
Psa. 139:2, 3—“You know my down sitting and my uprising, you understand my thought afar off. You compass my path and my lying down, and You are acquainted with all my ways.” Before our thoughts are fully developed, our unspoken sentences, the rising feeling in our hearts, our activity, our resting, all that we do from day to day is known and sifted by God. v. 4—“There is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.” Not only thoughts and purposes, but words spoken, idle, good, or bad.
Exod. 3:7—“I have seen the affliction … heard the cry: know the sorrows of my people which are in Egypt.” The tears and grief which they dared not show to their taskmasters, God saw and noted. Did God know of their trouble in Egypt? It seemed to them as though He did not. But He did.
Matt. 10:29, 30—“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Exod. 3:19—“And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.” Here is intimate knowledge as to what a single individual will do.
Isa. 48:18—“O that thou hadst harkened to my commandments! then had thy peace have been as a river,” etc. God knows what our lives would have been if only we had acted and decided differently.
(dd) God Has a Perfect Knowledge of All that Transpires in Human History.
With what precision are national changes and destinies foretold and depicted in Dan. 2 and 8!
Acts 15:18—“Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world [ages].” In the context surrounding this verse are clearly set forth the religious changes that were to characterize the generations to come, the which have been so far literally, though not fully, fulfilled.
(ee) God Knows from All Eternity to All Eternity What Will Take Place.
Isa. 48:5-8—“I have even from the beginning declared it unto thee; before it came to pass I showed it thee.… I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things,” etc.
Isa 46:9, 10—“I am God … 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.”
3. THE OMNIPOTENCE OF GOD
The omnipotence of God is that attribute by which He can bring to pass everything which He wills. God’s power admits of no bounds or limitations. God’s declaration of His intention is the pledge of the thing intended being carried out. “Hath he said, and shall he not do it?”
(1) SCRIPTURAL DECLARATION OF THE FACT; IN GENERAL:
Job 42:2—“I know that you can do everything [all things], and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Gen. 18:14—“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” What had ceased to be possible by natural means comes to pass by supernatural means.
4. IMMUTABILITY OF GOD
- By the immutability of God is meant that God’s nature is absolutely unchangeable.
- It is not possible that He should possess one attribute at one time that He does not possess at another.
- Nor can there be any change in the Deity for better or for worse.
- God remains forever the same.
- He is without beginning and without end; the self-existent “I am”; He remains forever the same, and unchangeable.
(1) SCRIPTURAL STATEMENT OF THE FACT: THE ETERNITY OF GOD
Hab. 1:12—“Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One?” Chaldea had threatened to annihilate Israel. The prophet cannot believe it possible, for has not God eternal purposes for Israel? Is He not holy? How, then, can evil triumph?
Psa. 90:2—“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Short and transitory is the life of man; with God it is otherwise. The perishable nature of man is here compared with the imperishable nature of God.
Psa. 102:24-27—“I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old thou hast laid the foundations of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” With the perishable nature of the whole material creation the psalmist contrasts the imperishable nature of God.
Exod. 3:14—“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM.” The past, present and future lie in these words for the name of Jehovah.
Rev. 1:8—“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”