Theology: God (INTRODUCTION TO THEOLOGY PROPER)

Tozer said of his God, “O Lord God Almighty, not the God of the philosophers and the wise but the God of the prophets and apostles; and better than all, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, may I express Thee unblamed?

 

“They that know Thee not may call upon Thee as other than Thou art, and so worship not Thee but a creature of their own fancy; therefore enlighten our minds that we may know Thee as Thou art, so that we may perfectly love Thee and worthily praise Thee.” (Tozer, A.W.; “The Knowledge Of The Holy”; Lincoln, NE: Back to the Bible, 1961, p 7)

 

The term theology proper refers to the study of the true theology, the study of God Himself. This section will deal with God, His attributes, and His nature. Some state that it deals also with His existence, however if a person is dealing with nature and attributes, there is existence.

 

Please define the term God for me. A hard task? Yes, a very hard task. Let me share other people’s attempts to define God.

 

I read in an Oregon newspaper of a pilot that told the newspaper that God had licensed him. He did not need the government telling him if he could fly or not. God told him he could, so that settled it. The story came to light after the man had crashed his plane. He told the reporter that his faith in God did not require him to have licenses, be it a pilot’s, driver’s, or pickup.

 

Is this really God that this man serves?

 

Still, others see God in other ways. The United Presbyterian General Assembly was introduced to a female God by The Revelation Wallace M. Alston, Jr. of Princeton, N.J. He told the assembly of the God he serves using female pronouns.

 

I read a story by Danny Dutton where he described God as a God that makes people, babies actually, so that there will be enough people here on earth to take care of things. He figured that the babies could be trained by the people down here, rather than take His time to do it.

 

He went on to describe his idea of God. It was the description of an eight- year-old boy, but that description was quite practical and thought provoking. We grownups ought to take God for what He is and not try to make Him over in our own image. (Dutton, Danny, an essay “An Explanation Of God”; Sword of the Lord, Feb. 1986, quoting Evangelical Press News Service.)

 

The thoughts of a Jewish man that lived in A.D. 1200 depict well the reverence with which he discussed his God. It also depicts the God of the Word quite well from the Old Testament standpoint. He mentions His creation, unity, eternality, and many other attributes. “Thirteen Principles of Faith (Ani Ma’amin) Lieberman, Leo/Beringause, Arthur, editors; “Classics Of Jewish Literature”; Secaucus, NJ: Castle, p 226-227. (I would have included it but could not find an address so I could seek permission.)

 

Let us look at other definitions of God.

 

1. “By God we understand the one absolutely and infinitely perfect Spirit who is the creator of all” (Pardington, Revelation George P. Ph.D. quoting the Catholic Dictionary; “Outline Studies In Christian Doctrine”; Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1926, p 58)

 

2. “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being,  wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth” (Pardington quoting The Westminster Shorter Catechism, p 58)

 

3. “God is the infinite and perfect Spirit in whom all things have their source, support, and end.” (Strong, Augustus H.. “Systematic Theology”; Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1907, p 52)

 

4. Bill Bright mentions that God is not a “cosmic policeman,” nor a “dictator,” nor a “big bully.” He also mentions that “to know Him intimately is to love Him supremely.” (Bright, Bill; article from Worldwide Challenge, “Getting to Know God”)

 

5. Unger mentions, “He is purely spiritual, the Supreme Personal Intelligence, the Creator and Preserver of all things, the Perfect Moral Ruler of the universe; He is the only proper object of worship; He is the tri-personal — the Father, Son, and Holy spirit constituting one God- head.” (Taken from: “Unger’s Bible Dictionary”; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. p 410)

 

He is distinct from any other God that might be fabricated in man’s mind. Scripture declares that God is a God among many gods. He is pictured as THE GOD among other gods. He is the TRUE GOD among the gods of men’s minds.

 

In Isaiah 45:5,6 God declares that He is the only God.

 

“I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me; I girded thee, though thou hast not known me, that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.”

 

Yet, Exodus 15:11 and other texts declare Him to be The One God among other gods. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Psalm 136:2 states, “Oh, give thanks unto the God of gods; for his mercy endureth forever.” (See also: Ezra 1:2-4; Jeremiah 10:11; Exodus 18:1-12; Exodus 20:3; Exodus 23:24; 2 Kings 17:26.)

 

The next item to examine is the question, “How do we know God exists?” There are four indications of God’s existence that I would like to mention at this point.

 

Intuition: We know God exists due to man’s intuition. All men of all ages have had a sense of God. There have been burial sites of hundreds of civilizations that have shown the people prepared their dead for the afterlife. Intuition is “. . .what the normal natural mind assumes to be true.” (Reprinted by permission: Walvoord, John F. editor; “Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology”; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1988, Vol. I, p 111)

 

Romans 1:18-20 tells us that God will hold all mankind responsible based in part upon this intuitive knowledge of Him. Nature itself reveals God and the book of Romans is clear that, based on these two revelations, the lost are without excuse.

 

 

Tradition: We also know that God exists due to tradition. Tradition comes from those things that man knew from ages past that were handed down through the ages. There are also the Scriptures that contain this earlier tradition and they record for us those things we can know of God from times past.

 

Reason: By viewing the creation and using the mind, man can know that God exists. We will cover this in detail later.

 

Revelation: We have just studied the doctrine of the Bible which is God revealing Himself to us. He tells us much of Himself in His Word.

 

God is one. God is three. There is one God and within God are three personalities. There is one essence and there is one nature. There are three persons.

 

The term “God” normally in Scripture relates to, not a particular person of the Trinity, but to the essence and nature of God. It refers to “deity.” There are times when “God” is used and elsewhere in the context the Word identifies “God” as one particular person of the Trinity.

 

SOME DEFINITIONS

 

Essence: Essence is that which gives attributes residence and is the proof of existence. Thiessen mentions of essence, “. . .that which underlies all outward manifestation; the reality itself, whether material or immaterial; the substratum of anything that in which the qualities of attributes inhere.” (Thiessen, Henry C.; “Lectures In Systematic Theology”; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1949, p 119)

 

Being: Being is a state of existence and essence.

 

Person: Person is a term that defines the totality of essence and being.

 

Nature: Nature is the outworking of essence and attributes. It is the total of all that a being is.

 

Attributes: Attributes are the qualities of essence.

 

Personality: Personality is that which causes distinctness between different essences.

 

 

Take some time to consider these terms as they relate to God.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

We want to study God so that we can know more about the Lord, but also that we might know the Lord. There is a vast difference between knowing about God and knowing God. I trust that not only will you learn facts about your God, but that you would also get to know Him in a more special way.

 

Tertullian said, “. . .the knowledge of God is the dowry of the soul.” (Warfield, B.B.; “Calvin And Augustine”; New York: 1931, p 147) Knowledge of Him should be of great importance to each of us.

 

I trust that in years to come that you might well fit into the category of man that Theophilus mentions. “If you say, ‘Show me thy God,’ I reply, ‘Show me your man and I will show you my God.’“ (Warfield. B.B., p 147)

 

Strauss mentions, “The nature of God is not fully comprehensible by the human, finite mind; however, we must pursue that which is apprehensible and which God himself has been pleased to reveal.” (Strauss, Lehman; “The First Person”; Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1967, p 43)

 

Tozer indicates that we can know a nation by knowing it’s concept of God (p 7). We can also know a church by it’s idea of God. Likewise we may know a man by his concept of God.

 

As you converse with a person or observe the actions of a church or nation you may gain knowledge of what that person, church, or nation thinks of God.

 

That is an awesome thought, that people can know what we feel and think about God by observing us. What do you tell by your lifestyle to the people around you? What does your church tell the neighbors about God by their lifestyle?

 

I met a man when working as a janitor. He knew that I was a preacher and talked to me from time to time. He swore, drank, and smoked each night after work with the other men. He would talk to me of knowing the Lord, and knowing that he was not living correctly. He also mentioned how important it is to affect those around you spiritually. The problem with his affect on others was that it was not a Godly affect.

 

We must, as believers, portray the God that we serve. We cannot reflect our God if we are abusive, if we are nasty, if we are short tempered, if we are dishonest, if we are unpleasant, if we are   . You fill in the blank with your improper personal traits.

 

Consider daily how you have portrayed your God as you lay down to sleep.[1]

 


[1] by Stanley L. Derickson. DERICKSON’S NOTES ON THEOLOGY: A STUDY BOOK IN THEOLOGY.

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