“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” Psalm 1331
Unity in man is good and pleasant. In God it must be much more. What is unity? Let us look at a couple of places where we should find unity.
In The Church: Bringing together under a common purpose. Having a common mind in a common direction. Lack of division. Show me a church like this and I will show you a church that is doing a real work for the Lord. Most churches are like congress. Everyone is out to get what they want and the body is being pulled three dozen directions. The result is the church remains in about the shape it was in ten years ago.
The churches today that are progressing are the ones that have set common goals toward a point in the future, and have a congregation that is working toward those goals.
In The Godhead: The God head always was together. There always was a common purpose. There was and always will be a common mind. There always has been a common direction. Never was there a difference of opinion. Never was there less than complete unity in all areas. Never was God anything but ONE.
Can finite human beings comprehend complete eternal unity? I doubt it. Pardington states “There is but one God. The trinity must be held in harmony with the singleness of the divine essence or substance:”
(Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 85)
Theissen tells us, “By the unity of God we mean that there is but one God and that the divine nature is undivided and indivisible. (Thiessen, Henry C.; “Lectures In Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, p 134)
Indivisible seems to be a mute statement. Even the thought of division is foreign to the concept of the unity of God. He is one and there is not room for any other thought, possibility or concept.
Man has two parts to his being, the material and the spiritual. God on the other hand is purely spirit and has a unity which man does not have at this present time, nor will he in eternity. Jesus mentions this contrast between spirit, and the flesh and bone that he had in Luke 24:39.
Why won’t we ever have this unity? We are only one. God is three and we speak of His unity in relation to this. We being only one cannot have unity. Exodus 20:3-7, tells of the commands against idols. It does not stress unity in word, however if these verses were followed there would be a worship of one God — a unity. (See also Deuteronomy 4:35)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:4,5
Chew on that for a few years. Love with all thine heart. Love with all thy soul. Love with all thy might.
How does that relate to things like: I want to be a doctor instead of a pastor. I want to build a house instead of give to missions. I want to enjoy life rather than work in a church. I want to have a date instead of study. I want to instead of .
If you pour all your heart, all your soul and all your might into loving God how can you possibly have time to: Do your own thing. Build a career of your choosing. Amass a fortune. .
If we are really fulfilling this verse we won’t have time for the things of this world. We can’t.
2 Samuel 7:22,
“Wherefore, thou art great, O Lord God; for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”
We’ve heard with our ear that anything between us and the Lord is idolatry — other gods. Yet, many of us constantly put our own desires and our own wants before God. We hear with our ears but say no with our minds and hearts.
1 Kings 8:60,
“That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.”
Psalm 86:10, “For thou art great, and doest wondrous things; thou art God alone.”
He has done wondrous things. Yet, how do we react to a new situation of trouble? As if He is inactive on our behalf and we need to worry and work through this new trouble.
The Israelites saw God part the Red Sea — depart the Red Sea and yet they doubted at the edge of the promised land. They saw the victory of taking the land yet went their own way.
Think of the neatest thing that God has ever done for you. Contemplate it. He can do the same in any situation you find yourself in. Don’t forget those past “wondrous things.”
Isaiah 43:10, “…I am he; before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
It would seem by, “was no God formed” is referring to idols. Before God was, there were no idols formed. Indeed, before God — man was not even formed. The thought seems to run along the line of logic. Before me — no idols. I am before ALL. Idols would be illogical. Unity should eliminate idolatry of all sorts.
“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” Zechariah 14:9, “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one.”
Finally, in the eternal state the Lord will again be the only God instead of the God among all the other gods.
Being the only God creating man and finding that man creates many gods, don’t you think that God deserves to be a bit frustrated with man? Yet, he is truly longsuffering and puts up with us. I suspect that He might be looking forward to eternity future when He is again given His rightful position and place and all of mankind recognizes Him for whom and What He is.
Read and consider the following texts: Mark 12:32, John 17:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Galatians 3:20, 1 Timothy 2:5.
A misconception in the area of unity could lead to a rejection of the trinity. The trinity is a hard doctrine to fit into the unity of God however the scriptures plainly teach both thus we must accept their compatibility.
Was there and has there always been unity in the trinity? Why would I ask such a dumb question? When Christ died on the cross, was there a separation between God the Father and God the Son? The words of the Lord would indicate it. (Father why hast thou forsaken me.) I don’t intend to answer this question, but here are some thoughts that may relate.
1. Unity is not unity if it is division.
2. Were the words of Christ the words of the human that had submitted totally to God’s will and now found Himself totally alone on the cross to die? This does not seem possible, for we teach that Christ was just as much man as if he had never been God and just as much God as if He had never been man. To suggest, that God left Christ the man, to hang on the cross, teaches that God and Christ were not as we teach.
3. There can be no break in unity or God is less that God. He is unity, so as such, must always be unity.
4. Forsaken probably does not mean division. I can be unified with my wife yet be on the other side of the earth. We are one according to the Bible no matter if we are together or not. God may only have moved away from Christ for the time that is in view.
5. Some suggest God turned His back on Christ because He could not view sin. The lack of logic in this should be obvious.
a. Christ is God. If God had to turn His back on sin, then Christ also would have to turn His back from the sin. How can God the Son turn his back on Himself?
b. Was sin present on Christ, or the cross? Was sin present on the Old Testament sacrifices? No, the sacrifice was to care for the sin. Christ died to care for sin. Sin is immaterial and cannot be placed — seen — or turned away from.
6. I submit that forsaken has something to do with things far removed from division or the breaking of unity.
I think that many things have been taught in years past in our fundamental circles that ought not to have been taught. The fact that God turned from sin when Christ was on the cross, needs some further study.
1. God is a unity. Thus we may bank on the fact that the Holy Spirit won’t lead us contrary to what God the Father wants. Indeed, the Father hath revealed Himself through the Word. The Holy Spirit will never be contrary to the Word either.
2. This may be on the light side but you only have one quiet time to have so you can make it longer. Can you imagine having six idols to go to on a regular basis and worship? This doctrine certainly refutes the possibility of multiple God’s as well.
3. The unity of God lends credibility to the purpose of God. There is “one purpose, one mind, one goal for all things.” (Buswell, James Oliver; “A Systematic Theology Of The Christian Religion”; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962, p 103)
GOD IS GREAT
This is an attempt to look at the great God that we worship. His greatness is not a thing that we can comprehend for He has not even revealed all of it to us. We are limited to seeing His greatness in the Scriptures and that directs us to observe His greatness in the creation.
Indeed, we do not really comprehend that amount of His greatness that He has revealed to us in the Scripture and nature. We do not really, even in a lifetime of study, gain all there is to know of His greatness from these sources. We are limited in scope and mentality.
It has occurred to me in this study of His attributes that there may be many other attributes that God possesses which He has not revealed to us. There may be parts of Him that we could never comprehend so He just did not even mention them. We may have a long theology class when we get there to help us understand even more about Him than He revealed to us in the Word.
Since we are finite beings and deal with only what we can comprehend, we cannot imagine what other attributes He might have. He is a great God, an infinite God thus we must probably assume that He does have other attributes as well.
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and an awesome, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”
Mighty and awesome. He is not a God to be trifled with, yet lost mankind does just that on a daily basis. They talk of their praying to Him, yet never approach Him in the area of salvation. They talk of him in their everyday conversation as if He is a personal friend, yet never make Him a personal Savior. God ought not be treated this way. Indeed, there are believers that use the Lord’s name in vain that ought to be aware of their error.
1 Chronicles 29:10-13,
“Wherefore, David blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and David said, Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel, our father, forever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the Heaven and in the earth is thine. Thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.”
“…..in thine hand it is to make great…..” Don’t be so bold as to decide that you are going to make yourself great. Leave all that in God’s hands and allow Him to mold and shape you into something great — something that he can use. If you mold yourself into something great, the chances are that the Lord will not be able to use you.
Nehemiah 9:32, “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awe-inspiring God…..” Years ago in a Sunday School class the teacher assigned each person a verse, and asked us to define God in one word based on the verse. My verse was in the Psalm and ran along this same vein. My one word definition of God from the verse was “aweful”. He is full of things that should bring us to our knees in awe, or else He truly will be an awful God.
Psalm 145:3, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” Yes, try to learn all you can of God’s greatness, but don’t get frustrated if you never find an end to the study, for the topic is unsearchable. Even if we had time to do all the research we wanted to do on the subject, we could not search out all there is to know of His greatness. His greatness will continue to be revealed throughout eternity. We will be constant witnesses of the things that He will do.
“Ah, Lord God. Behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and outstretched arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee; Thou showest loving-kindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them; the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work; for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings;”
Within the greatness of God we have some subdivisions. He is self-existent and eternal.
GOD IS SELF-EXISTANT
It is logical to assume that either you believe in a self-existent God or a self-existent universe.
The term “aseity” is sometimes used instead of self-existence. You many run into it in your studies. It means, to have a free, or independent existence. To have an existence apart from all other things, be it being or material.
Thomas Aquinas said of God, “the first cause, Himself uncaused.” In saying this he was stating his believe that God being the cause of all that exists was not caused by anything or anyone not even Himself. The last part of the phrase is something that would bother someone that is logical in thinking. How could a being bring itself into existence? If it could bring itself into existence, then it had to have existed prior to the act. Something that does not exist cannot bring anything into existence, much less itself.
In the past many have tried to define the self existence of God. The thinking went along the line that God was the cause of Himself.
Lactantius: “God, before all things, was procreated from Himself. God, of His own power, made Himself. He is of Himself; therefore He is such as He willed Himself to be.”
Jerome: “God is the origin of Himself and the cause of His own substance.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. pp 72-73)
Their error was in assuming that every effect must have a cause. God did not have a beginning; these two definitions are automatically defective.
Their thought allows for God bringing Himself into existence and this would dictate the possibility of God taking Himself out of existence. Self annihilation is not an option for God for He has revealed Himself to us as eternal and has promised man and angels eternal future existence.
God does not depend on anything or anyone for his continued existence. God is independent. He is not dependent on anything for continued existence, not even Himself.
As animals, man, and all created creatures depend upon God for their existence, God depends on nothing. He exists because of all that is within Him and nothing that which is without.
Indeed, He does not depend upon Himself for continued existence. He, by His nature exists. Continued existence is automatic within His nature. To cease to exist would require a shift in His nature — a nature that is unchangeable. Can He cease to exist? A totally mute question. To cease to exist is not consistent with His nature. In fact the idea of continued existence may well be foreign to His nature. He is that He is. This eliminates even the need for continued existence. He exists as He exists.
He could wipe out all of creation, all of the angelic host, and all of mankind and there would be nothing left but Him. He would not be hindered or decreased by one smidgeon.
We not only depend upon God for our existence in the first place, but we depend upon Him for our continued existence. He preserves the creation. He on the other hand depends on nothing.
Bancroft quotes Pendleton as saying, “When He [God] interposes His
oath to confirm His word He swears by Himself saying, ‘As I live,’ leaving His oath to rest on the immutable basis of His self-existence. In the boundless range of human and angelic thought there will never be found a deeper mystery than the self-existence of God. It defies finite comprehension. God alone knows how He exists, why He has always existed, and why He will exist forever.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 73)
Now, I would challenge you to consider that statement. Realize fully there are things that God knows that we cannot possibly ever know, unless we can talk Him into telling us someday 30 billion years into eternity when he has taught us a little bit about Himself.
Exodus 3:14, “And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. . . .” I am all that I am. There is no more or no less than what I am. In short might we somewhat tongue in cheek say, “Don’t try to stick me in a pigeon hole.”
John 5:26, “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;”
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
Bancroft quotes Harris, “God is. His name is evermore, I AM. It certainly can be no limitation of God that He is absolutely unlimited and independent, that He is uncreated and eternal, endowed from all eternity with all possible perfection as the absolute Spirit” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. pp 73- 74)
Bancroft mentions that it is God’s nature to exist. That seems to be what God said when He said, “I Am That I Am.”
1. We can be assured that if God is self-existent that we are at the source of all life, and as such, if we have accepted His conditions and promises then those promises will assuredly come to pass.
2. God is the source of life and thus is the only one that has the right or ability to offer eternal life a commodity which He controls. He may offer this to whomever He so desires, and indeed He offers it to whomsoever will come. This should help us with election and predestination. It isn’t mean. It isn’t arbitrary. He controls all of eternity — His will is what will be.
GOD IS ETERNAL
There are three usages of the term eternal:
The eternal mountains suggesting great age from the beginning, of the mountains.
The eternal life or damnation of man. A beginning in time with eternal future existence. This would apply equally to the angelic host.
True eternal existence is found only in God Himself. He alone has the eternal attribute of existence from eternity past to eternity future.
All else can be viewed as everlasting, rather than eternal, for all else has a beginning since eternity past.
Years ago I witnessed to a young man about the fact that we can have eternal life. He replied that he agreed 100 percent, in fact he had eternal life, indeed, all of mankind had eternal life. I asked him to take a moment and explain to me just how he could state that all of mankind had eternal life. He mentioned that he believed that one of Einstein’s theories states that as we travel in space time slows down and we actually can get ahead of time. He went on to explain that if we go fast enough and long enough out into space that at some point we could stop and look behind us and see ourselves coming. This was his “eternal life.” We can keep going out into space and keep looking back to see ourselves coming. I trust that your concept of eternality is a bit more promising than that.
In dealing with the eternality of God we must take Schleiermacher’s advice, when he suggests that we eliminate from God all limits of time, indeed, time itself. Time is a medium which the Lord created for us to operate in. (Schleiermacher was a liberal theologian.)
God has, at any moment of His existence, the total of His duration. We have our existence in a sequential order and gain it piece by piece through our experience and living in time.
The attribute of self-existence suggests and requires the eternality of God. To have always existed, would demand that He always has been.
There are past, present and future to God however due to his knowledge of past, present and future events He is actually in an ever present or “now” existence. He is the perfect NOW generation. He knows all events; he can combine some past and future events into those events going on in the present.
SOME QUOTES TO CONSIDER
Bancroft states that “The Bible asserts the fact that God is eternal; His existence had no beginning and will have no ending; He always was, always is, and always will be.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 75)
Buswell puts it this way, “The Bible writers explicitly teach and continuously assume that the being of God is eternal, both as to the past and as to the future. God has always existed and always will exist; He never began to be. He never will cease to be.” (Buswell, p 40)
Ryrie quotes Berkhof as saying, “that perfection of God whereby He is elevated above all temporal limits and all succession of moments, and possesses the whole of His existence in one indivisible present” (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; “Basic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, pp 36-37)
Pardington states, “Eternity means existence without beginning or end:” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D.; “OUTLINE STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 85)
“And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba,
and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.”
Deuteronomy 32:40, “For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live forever.”
Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms;”
“Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”
“Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.”
“For thus saith the high and lofty One
who inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy….”
Habakkuk 1:12, “Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, mine Holy One….”
Romans 1:20 mentions his eternal power and Godhead. 1 Timothy 1:17,
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
1 Timothy 6:18,
“Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Revelation 4:10 tells of the 24 elders casting their crowns before the one that “liveth forever and ever,”.
“And swore by him that liveth forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, and the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things which are in it, that there should be delay no longer;”
Shedd mentions that the French Bible translates Jehovah by the term “l’Eternel”.
Wordsworth related man’s time in this life as an intervention of noise in God’s eternal silence. Parents find times when their children get on their nerves noise wise and long for a moment of silence. I wonder if God gets sick and tired of the noise His children raise?
Bancroft quotes J. M. Pendleton on p 75. Pendleton relates that God is the only true eternal being. He existed in all of eternity past, which no other being has. He also mentions that God only will sit on God’s throne.
“Eternity transcends all finite bounds of time, Knows nothing of Duration, with successive years, Before Thy vision, panoramic and sublime
Past, present, future, at one glance appears, Unnumbered cycles pass before thy review, The new is as the old, the old is as the new.”
(From an unnamed poet, Taken from the book, ELEMENTAL THEOLOGY by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. pp 74-75)
The doctrine has three aspects to it.
a. God’s existence cannot be measured in time.
b. God’s existence is above time. Men live in time.
c. God is the originator and ruler of time. Indeed, we could even say that God’s existence cannot be measured.
Man is a finite being and is limited to time. We overcome this limitation at times through memory of the past and predictions for the future. Haley’s comet is predictable and is a very limited sense in which we know the future.
In closing a quote from Bancroft which is from an institutionalized person that was ask to describe God’s eternity.
“It is duration, without beginning or end; existence, without bounds or dimension; present, without past or future. His eternity is youth without infancy or old age; life without birth or death; today, without yesterday or tomorrow.” (Taken from the book, Elemental Theology by Emery H. Bancroft. Copyright 1977 by Baptist Bible College. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. p 75) I am left to wonder why he was institutionalized.
The logical application is that if God is eternal then that is our guarantee of our own eternal existence from this point forward. That is why we can have a real trust in our salvation.
 Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D. B.A. (n.d.). DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.