Doctrine of God 0002 - Lesson 1

  1. THE ESSENCE OF GOD
    1. His Spirituality
      1. Key verse: John 4:24
        1. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
        2. Translation conflict
          1. Modern scholarship criticizes the King James reading and prefers “God is spirit.” The argument is that “God is a Spirit” makes God just another spiritual being.
          2. Counter argument:
            1. “God is a Spirit” simply identifies the essential nature of God. He is not made up of a fleshly body, but is a spiritual being.
            2. “God is spirit” tends towards the idea that God is not a distinct being but is identified with all that is spiritual. This lends support to a dangerous form of pantheism.
            3. Many older Bible commentators and theologians had no problem with “God is a Spirit.” This is one of those faddish theological arguments designed to make the theologian look wiser than the earlier translators (like Yahweh for Jehovah). The text should be allowed to stand as it is.
        3. Argument in context
          1. John 4:19-24 makes up one unified piece.
          2. In order to take Jesus off track in His witnessing approach, the Samaritan woman brings up the argument between the Jews and the Samaritans as to where God should be worshipped. Should He be worshipped in Samaria as the Samaritans say or in Jerusalem as the Jews claim?
          3. Although Jesus maintains the authority of the Jewish teachings (“salvation is of the Jews”), He points to the time when the Father will not be worshipped in a particular location (“neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem").
          4. The reason for this development has to do with the essential nature of God. He is a Spirit and therefore His worship is not limited to a physical location. True worship of Him is not physical worship in a physical location; it is spiritual worship.
          5. The point of the argument contrasts the physical with the spiritual and declares that God is spiritual; not physical.
      2. Distinction between flesh and spirit
        1. Numerous scriptures contrast flesh and spirit as two opposites (Matthew 26:41; Luke 24:39; John 3:6; John 6:63).
        2. Men and horses as flesh are contrasted to God as spirit. Isaiah 31:3 states, "Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the LORD shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together."
        3. The biblically-defined distinctions between flesh and spirit can help us to understand the significance of God being a Spirit.
          1. Flesh is visible; but spirit is invisible--as is God (Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16; Hebrews 11:27).
          2. Flesh as matter takes up space and has weight; but spirit is not matter and is incorporeal (Isaiah 31:3; Luke 24:39).
          3. Flesh is corruptible; but spirit is incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:50).
          4. Flesh is temporal and time-limited; but spirit is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).
          5. Flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41); but spirit is powerful (Luke 4:14; Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 5:4).
          6. Note: Men often think of flesh as being real and spirit as being not quite so real. This is an absolute fallacy brought on by our complete lack of understanding the divine perspective. It is the flesh that is fleeting and temporary and the spirit that is permanent in the universe. We have very little knowledge of the spiritual, but we must begin by questioning our assumptions about the spirit in the light of biblical teaching.
      3. Warnings against thinking of God the Father in physical terms
        1. Isaiah 40:18 asks, "To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" This is in the context of the sin of making idols of God in any form. God is not to be conceived of as having a likeness understandable to man.
        2. The Lord pointed out to the Israelites that when He appeared to them they "saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female" (Deuteronomy 4:15-16). That is, God did not appear to them in any form; therefore, they are not to think of Him in any form--even in human form, either male of female.
        3. In Psalm 50:21, God reproves the wicked because, “thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” We are not to imagine or picture God as being like ourselves.
        4. Romans 1:23 states that depraved men "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." Some may think that this only has to do with physical idols that are worshipped. However, images come from the imaginations of the heart. We are not to imagine (or put into an image) the glory of God in the form of a man.
    2. His Self-existence (Exodus 3:14) – This doctrine is covered in the previous notes dealing with the name Jehovah as referring to the self-sufficient God.
      1. Here is a repetition of some of those notes:
        1. He revealed Himself to Moses as the great I AM (Exodus 3:13-15). He calls Himself. I AM THAT I AM. This is an identification of who the LORD is.
        2. According to John 5:26, "the Father hath life in himself." That is, the life of God comes from God. According to John 5:26, "the Father hath life in himself." That is, the life of God comes from God.
        3. Of Him scripture declares, "Who only hath immortality" (1 Timothy 6:16). Only God has full control over His own existence.
        4. God powerfully proclaims His own existence in Deuteronomy 32:40 - “For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever." Coming from anyone other than God, this would be the ravings of a madman. From God, it is simply the truth.
        5. Seven times in the Bible, God declares Himself to be the first and the last (Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 44:6; Isaiah 48:12; Revelation 1:11, 17; Revelation 2:8; Revelation 22:13). Nothing came before Him and nothing will exist beyond Him.
        6. Thirty times the scriptures refer to him as the “living God” (Deuteronomy 5:26 [first reference]; 1 Samuel 17:36; Psalm 42:2; Jeremiah 10:10; Jeremiah 23:36; Daniel 6:20; John 6:69; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Timothy 4:10; Revelation 7:2 [last reference]).
      2. Further thoughts on the self-existence of God
        1. Theologically, this is called the aseity of God. This word is from a Latin phrase meaning from himself. Other synonyms for this quality are independence, self-existence, and self-sufficiency.
        2. In this matter of independence, the relationship of God to His creation is one of great contrast:
          1. God is the possessor of all things (Genesis 14:19; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 50:10-12)
          2. Everything we possess came from God (1 Chronicles 29:11-16; John 3:27; 1 Corinthians 4:7)
          3. We can only give back to God that which He has already given us (1 Chronicles 29:11)
          4. No man can give to God anything that makes God obligated to Him (Job 22:2; Job 35:7-8; Job 41:11; Luke 17:10; Romans 11:35-36).
          5. God needs nothing from man that He cannot accomplish for Himself without man (Psalm 50:8-15).
          6. Therefore, God is independent of man and has no need of him. His dealings with man are purely from the motives of love and grace; not need (Exodus 3:14).
          7. Man, on the other hand, must depend on God for everything. Even his ability to breathe (Job 12:10), live, move, and to have our very being (Acts 17:28).
    3. His Eternity
      1. Related titles
        1. The everlasting God (Genesis 21:33; Isaiah 40:28; Romans 16:26)
        2. The eternal God (Deuteronomy 33:27)
        3. The everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
        4. The King eternal (1 Timothy 1:17)
        5. The eternal Spirit (Hebrews 9:14)
      2. The everlasting existence of God (Psalm 90:2; Psalm 93:2; Habakkuk 1:12)
        1. Unto everlasting: His days will never end
        2. From everlasting:
          1. He never had a beginning
          2. Also an attribute of the Son (Micah 5:2)
      3. The habitation of eternity
        1. God is the One who inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).
        2. This is much more than eternal existence. God exists without time and outside of time. His true dwelling is timeless.
        3. This eternal existence gives special quality to His power (Romans 1:20) and sovereign authority (1 Timothy 1:17; Psalm 145:13).
        4. God’s habitation in eternity is connected to His immutability (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8).
        5. God’s habitation in eternity is connected to His full knowledge of the future (Isaiah 46:9-10). All events at all times are alike present to Him.
        6. As such, God is a secure dwelling place for His people (Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 90:1-2)
      4. The balance of time and eternity
        1. As to who He is, God inhabits eternity and is unaffected by the events of history.
        2. As to what He does, God works with His creation in time and operates throughout history.
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 1:12

Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: