Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 9:23-24
Moments of Wonder
Most of us have experienced one or more remarkable “moments of wonder” in our lives. A six-year-old child on Christmas morning, the groom seeing the bride appear at the other end of the aisle. How about Indiana Jones felt when he busted through and saw the gold. But that’s just fake gold!
Anyway, think about Isaiah, who in ch. 6 of his great book of prophecy, tells of the life-changing vision God gave him when he saw angels circling the throne of God singing Holy, Holy, Holy –wow! He was confronted by the unfiltered brilliance of God’s holiness – as real as possible, standing in awe of God.
God’s person & presence elicits deep, life-changing wonder in us. Today’s study will send us down the path of that wonder. Go slowly, drink in the richness of Who God is. Allow Him to manifest His wisdom and power in your heart & life. Like Jacob struggling with the angel of God (Gen. 32:22ff), get alone with God (Tozer would have said “grab hold of God”) and don’t let go until He reveals His rich holiness to you in a way that influences your walk & ministry. What a privilege we have to be given this revelation of Who He is! Also note that the result of this vision was Isaiah’s calling to ministry!
The doctrine of what God has revealed about Himself basically falls into two segments which express how He stands unique and alone above all His creation:
- His Being & Attributes – Intrinsic, indispensable, permanent and inseparable qualities that characterize or identify the being of God above (or outside of) all creation
- His Activities & Works – Expressed in creation, observable by man, moving forward the completion of God’s purpose for all His creation & our redemption
We Believe that God is…
- The One True God – Deut. 6:4
- Transcendent over all creation – Isa. 55:8-9
- Holy and infinitely perfect – Deut. 32:4
- Never changes (immutability) – Num. 23:19
- Sovereign – Prov. 16:1-4; Rom. 9:19-21
- Source and sustainer of all things
- Pursues and maintains relationship with His creation – Hosea 6:2; 11:1-4; Jn. 3:16; Phil.2:5-8; Heb. 7:25 (What do you think? One could suggest that Hebrews is summarized as the “Relentless Pursuit of Man for Salvation”)
- Compassionate and forgiving – Deut. 30:9; Lament.3:22-23; Rom. 5:6-10; 2 Pet. 3:9
One of the best ways you can expand your awareness of Biblical Doctrine is to read “Doctrinal Statements”. These documents might 5 pages or 50, possibly shallow or verbose, or perhaps succinct summary or significant explanation of biblical truth. You can find them on the web by searching for Christian leaders, colleges, or churches where they might post there document online. Here is a sample from three good sources of their statement for the doctrine of Theology Proper.
- Exo 33:20, 23 – no man can see God… the glory of God as He passes by
- Deut 6:4 – hear O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is One!
- Jn. 4:24 – God is spirit
- Jn. 4:34 – Jesus said… My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish His work
- Jn. 16:8-13 – 13 – when He the Spirit of Truth come, He will guide you into all truth
- Eph. 1:11 – having been predestined according to His purpose
- Eph. 3:11 – in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ
- 1 Tim. 2:5 – there is one God and one mediator
- 1 Cor. 2:10 – God is revealed through the Spirit, for the Spirit teaches all things, even the depths of God – power & wisdom
- 2 Cor. 13:4 – He lives because of the power of God
- Heb. 10:7 – I (Christ) have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God
Names of God
The names of God that occur in the Old Testament help to express God’s character. These names are revealed by God Himself. Consider Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one. Here is the Hebrew for that verse:Look up these names using the references give to see some of these names:
- El Shaddai: Almighty God or All Sufficient God (Gen 17:1- 20)—He makes promises and keeps each one.
- El Elyon–Most High [“Strongest Mighty One”] (Gen 14:18)— He delivered Abram from Lot’s enemies
- El Olam—Everlasting God or God of Eternity (Gen 21:33)— Abimelech made a covenant with Abraham, because “God is with you in all that you do.”
- Yahweh-Yireh—Yahweh will provide (Gen 22:8-14)
- Yahweh-Sabboth—Yahweh of hosts [armies] (1 Sam 1:3; 17:45)—David and Goliath
- Yahweh-Tsidkenu—Yahweh our righteousness (Jer 23:6)—The name He is to be called when He saves Judah
- Yahweh-Shalom—Yahweh is peace (Judges 6:24)
The Chief End of Man
From the Westminster Catechism, we are challenged with the question “What is the chief end of man?” What should every person consider their primary end goal, their purpose while alive on the earth? The simple answer: To glorify God. Our actions should glorify Him. And the Catechism continues “… and to enjoy Him forever.”
Here is wise counsel from Jeremiah 9:23-24 which expands on how this purpose plays out in the believer’s life: “Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.
It is important to understand that this all-powerful and all-wise One True God is not just a demanding potentate. He does what us to obey and glorify Him. Yet isn’t it interesting that God’s perspective is that to “glorify” Him, we are to delight in His provisions!
As we should expect, there are unfathomable depths of knowledge and understanding in the Bible about the person of God Himself. Hopefully this study session will “prime the pump” for you to get started or continue studying these important truths. Here are a series of related subject areas, verses to look at and leading thoughts to pursue.
- God never changes
- Num. 23:19; 1 Sam. 15:29; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17
- The immutability of God – all of His attributes, His nature, never change; He will be faithful to His word, including judgment of sin, but also eternal blessing for the believer
- He keeps His promises
- Deut. 7:9; Josh. 21:45; Isaiah 14:27; Rom. 14:21: Heb. 10:23
- God has promised many blessings in His Word – to Israel, to the Church, to individuals, to Christians, to unbelievers
- Sovereign over all processes and activities of creation
- 1 Chron. 29:11-12;Psa. 99:1-3;103:19; Prov. 16:1-4; Mal. 2:17-3:7; Col. 1:16-17
- He possesses supreme power and authority in all the creation and can accomplish whatever He desires; He facilitates (administers) relationship with man
- Holiness – God’s innate moral purity
- Exo. 15:11; 1 Sam. 2:2; Isa. 6:1-10; 40:25; 57:15
- He is “separated out”, transcendent, expressed the complete and utter essence of moral purity
- 18:25; Exo. 34:6-7; Isa. 30:18; Lament. 3:22;1 Pet. 1:17; 1 Pet. 3:8-9Rev. 4:8
- God requires adherence to His holiness, which in turn requires judgment to identify/punish those who choose to rebel; but He is also longsuffering, longing to bring the “prodigal” back home, pursuing the sinner and seeking to draw him to salvation and His presence
- 2 Chron. 30:9; Psa. 59:16; 78:38-39; Lament. 3:22-23; Isa. 54:10; 63:7; Hosea 2:18-20; Rom, 5:6-9
- The Hebrew “hesed” means longsuffering lovingkindness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy, His “pursuing love”
- God’s loyalty and faithful love in action, based on His covenant relationship with His people; persistent, unconditional tenderness
- Gen. 22:8; Isa. 63:1; Jn. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:20; 1 Jn. 4:10
- Jn 5-7, the close relationship of Father & Son
- In Isaiah, God is the “Holy One of Israel” (over 20x) Who is identified as Redeemer
- Redemption existed in the mind & heart of God before time began
- God never changes
Christian apologetics is not an effort to apologize to agnostic critics. It is an effort to reasonably explain the strength of our Christian beliefs. Apologetics presents various systems or approaches to logic that establish a reasonable platform for faith in God. Some of these systems:
- Moral Argument
- Man’s intellectual and moral nature demands a superior origin
- Every generation of man’s existence across all cultures has had moral law, an innate sense of right & wrong; man’s intellectual and moral nature demands a superior origin
- Teleological Argument
- The Universe is not a chaos but a cosmos (organized system) with immense complexity at both micro and macro level – The seamless integration of these complex systems requires intelligent design
- Intelligent Design is presupposed based on simple scientific observation of all phenomena in the universe from galaxies 30,000 light years away to the amazing complexity of our body’s DNA and molecular structure
- Cosmological Argument
- There is no search for a “first cause” – everything that exists has a cause: the universe exists, the universe must have a cause
- God is the only sufficient cause for the universe – the cause of space, time & matter has to be timeless, spaceless & immaterial
- Ontological Argument
- Man’s universal, innate sense that there is a God Who is perfect, independent, infinite – civilized or uncivilized
- This belief must be real, and can lead to believe there is a true God
The Tragedy of Unbelief
- Man has chosen to rebel against the holiness of God. Romans 1:18-33 is a graphic depiction of man’s horrible hatred of anything related to God. Then 1 Cor. 2:14 helps us to understand this sad estate by explaining that the mind of a man who has not bowed before out Holy God doesn’t accept the teaching of God, the Bible’s words are nothing but foolishness.
- This rebellion shows itself in many forms today:
- Atheism, an open denial of God. Psa. 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart ‘There is no God.’
- Absolute Unbeliever, “I have examined all the facts as to the existence of God and I deny that they are sufficient to believe God exists”. He elevates himself above the wisdom of the Bible.
- Providential Blindness – “I doubt the existence of God, and deny His providential dealings and care of the world.”
- Deist – He wants to have freedom from accountability before a holy God. – Jn. 3:19-20
- Practical – “I don’t publicly deny God, but He is irrelevant to me.”
- Denial by life – Titus 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
- Biblical Theism is the right perspective – bow before the sovereign God Who is our creator and sustainer, take by faith the complete dependency on the Bible
- What the Bible says about the reality, essence and works of God is the only foundation of Truth
- God is assumed in the Bible – “believe that He is”, Heb. 11:6
- Either God is all that the Bible says, or it is the biggest and most deceptive hoax ever compiled
- The strongest evidence comes from Christ, which, if in error, repudiates the nature of Christ.
- The historical fact of Jesus Christ’s resurrection puts aside all ability to protest
- In spite of the evidence, without the illumination of the Spirit, man will not believe or understand. Jn. 16:7-15
Study this week in the Word!
- In Deut. 6:4 – how many true Gods are there?
- What attribute(s) does Col. 1:16-17 tell us God has?
- In Jn. 4:24, Jesus tells us that God is what? This fact tells us we need what kind of relationship with God?
- According to Eph. 3:9-11, how long ago did God set His plans in place for His chosen people?
- According to 1 Cor. 2:11-12, what are we receiving and how?
- From Isa. 6:3 and 5, what did God reveal to Isaiah?
- How much knowledge does God have according to Psa. 139?
- What is the chief end of man? 1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36; Ps. 73:25-28.
- What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him? 2 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 2:20; 1 John 1:3-4.
- What do the scriptures principally teach? 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:16.
- How is God described in these verses? John 4:24; Job 11:7-9. Ps. 90:2; James 1:17; Exo. 3:14; Ps. 147:5; Rev. 4:8; 15:4; Exod. 34:6
- How many persons are there in the Godhead? 1 Jn 5:7; Mt. 28:19
- What are the decrees of God? Eph. 1:4, 11; Rom. 9:22-23