God and Evil – The Problem of Evil

  • God the Father 16Introduction

Is the problem of evil a crack in the foundation of the Christian faith? Are Christians forced to fill these cracks with putty-like responses which seemingly reduce God’s revealed attributes? Has God remained silent in answering the question of the problem of evil, leaving Christians to fideistically categorize this issue as one of the secret things which belongs to the Lord? Or, as Deuteronomy 29:29 concludes, is the problem of evil in the category of those “things that are revealed belonging to us and to our children forever”? With questions of “Why?” regarding sin, disease, war, starvation, pain, and suffering in this knowingly evil world, the Scriptures must be searched in an effort to provide adequate answers to help Christians stand firm when the foundations seem shaken. God is undoubtedly sovereign, all-knowing, and all-good; nevertheless, evil is clearly present in this fallen world. With this apparent dilemma at hand, a procession into biblical solutions must follow in bringing to the surface the solutions God gives in answering the question of the problem of evil.

God’s Sovereignty

First, God’s Word clearly reveals that God is in fact all-powerful and sovereign, giving Him the ability to say, “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10— NIV). The study of numerous biblical passages in conjunction with the systematic study of Scripture as a whole maintains that there is not one loose molecule running around this universe outside of the complete control and dominion of God.

  • Ephesians 1:11 (NKJV) — “In Him we also obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.”
  • Romans 11:36 (NKJV) — “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
  • Job 23:13 (NIV) — “But He stands alone, and who can oppose Him? He does whatever He pleases.”
  • Psalm 115:3 (NIV) — “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him
  • Psalm 135:6 (NIV) — “The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.”
  • Isaiah 46:10 (NIV) — “I make known the end from the beginnings, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.”
  • Daniel 4:35 (NIV) — “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have You done?”

The passages above just scratch the surface in giving biblical evidence for a God who is in control of everything. God is an all-powerful and sovereign being, in control of both evil and good-His will stands. This is an important element of the sovereignty of God: God is in control of everything, both evil and good. God has decreed evil in that He knew that Man would choose evil according to his free will. God could have prevented man from sinning by not creating man with free will, by not placing the forbidden tree in the garden, by not allowing Satan to tempt Eve, or God could have simply elected not to create man at all. However, God did create the world as good, but decreed to create a world in which He would allow sin to enter, according to the free will and responsibility of man, knowing that He would work it together for good in accordance with His perfect purposes (cf. Romans 8:28). Scripture reveals the sovereign hand of God in both good and evil as He decrees those things which come to pass.

  • Lamentations 3:37-38 (NIV) — “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?”
  • Isaiah 45:7 (NKJV) — “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.”

Foreordination and Man’s Responsibility

God has foreordained all of the things that have come to pass—including God’s decree of evil, in that He knew that free, morally responsible agents would choose evil. By permitting man to sin, the blame and responsibility for evil must never be placed upon God, but on those beings who chose evil.

A sovereign God’s ability to accomplish all of His purposes does not result in fatalism. God can maintain sovereignty through morally responsible beings freely choosing according to their desires, establishing man’s responsibility, while accomplishing the good and perfect will of God in accordance with all that God decrees. Man is not forced to act against His will in choosing evil, but has freely acted, unknowingly resulting in the fulfillment of the decrees of God.

  • Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) — “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”
  • Acts 2:23 (NIV) (In reference to Christ) — “This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing Him to the cross.”
  • Acts 4:27-28 (NKJV) — “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, where gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

Mankind is responsible for the wickedness of rejecting and crucifying Christ. Man alone is responsible for his own sin. Sin, however, has neither overtaken a sovereign God nor found a place outside of the things God had foreordained and determined by the good counsel of His will. Biblical Christianity demands a sovereign and all-powerful God. A biblical solution to the problem of evil must include a completely sovereign God.

God’s Omniscience

Secondly, the Bible clearly teaches that God is all-knowing. The Psalmist praised God for His incredible wisdom and knowledge.

  • Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV) — “O Lord, you have searched me and You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely,Lord. You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”
  • Psalm 147:4-5 (NIV) — “He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.”

God not only determines the number of stars but has no limit in His understanding. God has determined, understood, and known all things that would occur from eternity past. In attempting to reconcile evil in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God’s world, often one or more of God’s attributes are forfeited. The “Process Theologian” explains away the problem of evil by proclaiming that God did not know things would turn out as they have and has taken drastic measures in an attempt to reverse the evil present in the universe. God reveals, however, that “His understanding has no limit.” God knows now and has always known all things—and He is certainly not bound by the actions of man in order to know what will take place next. The Bible does not reveal a God who sits on the edge of His seat anxiously awaiting man’s next move in order that He might make a counter move. God has always known all things which would take place.

God’s Goodness

The final attribute for consideration is the goodness of God. The problem of evil in a sovereign and all-knowing God’s world would be simply solved by eliminating God’s goodness—if Scripture allowed such a solution. The Bible, however, clearly teaches that God is perfectly good.

  • Psalm 34:8 (NIV) — “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.”
  • Psalm 100:5 (NIV) — “For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”
  • Psalm 119:68 (NIV) — “You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees.”
  • James 1:17 (NIV) — “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God in His perfect goodness is not the author of sin nor has He in any way forced or coerced man to sin against his own free will. God’s decree and foreordination of sin in the world was accomplished by mankind freely choosing according to each individual’s own desires. God has never laid aside His goodness at any time in eternity nor has He forced or enticed man to sin—for such involvement would be sin in itself.

Deuteronomy 13:6-10 (NKJV) — “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, of the gods of the people which are all around you, near to you or far off from you from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth, you shall not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him; but you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. And you shall stone him with stones until he dies, because he sought to entice you away from the Lord your God . . .”

John Frame says that if God enticed or forced man to sin, this “would picture God as some kind of giant Mafia boss who keeps his hands clean by forcing underlings to carry out his nasty designs” (Frame, 166). God has clearly revealed that man sins as the result of his own desires rather than the coercion of God.

James 1:13-15 (NKJV) — “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

God Must Remain God

Any attempt to give answers for the problem of evil through dethroning God of his sovereign power, limiting God’s knowledge, or questioning God’s goodness, should be refuted as biblical impossibilities.

John Frame says, “It would be nice to have a solution to the problem of evil, but not at any price. If the price we must pay is the very sovereignty of God, the faithful Christian must say that the price is too high. After all, it is of little importance whether any of us discovers the answer to the problem of evil. It is possible to live a long and happy and faithful life without an answer. But it is all-important that we worship the true God, the God of Scripture. Without Him, human life is worth nothing” (Frame, 154).

Foreordination and Man’s Responsibility II

Are there any biblical answers for the problem of evil? One of the most frequently used answers amongst Christians is found in the Free-Will argument. Simply, the choices man makes are not foreordained or caused by God and, therefore, God cannot be held responsible for the existence of evil. Alvin Plantinga in God, Freedom and Evil has embraced this answer for the problem of evil (Frame, 159). The freedom of the will, as a gift from God, delivers God from His responsibility for evil and places it upon man. Undoubtedly, Scripture teaches that man is responsible for sin, however, Scripture also gives clear references to God foreordaining and decreeing all things which occur. The following verses are examples of God’s invisible hand providentially working in the lives of people as He enables those who are spiritually blind to see and repent. It is God who enables totally depraved sinners to will the things of God as He changes their hearts.

  • Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) — “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
  • Luke 24:45 (NKJV) — “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”
  • John 6:44 (NKJV) — “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
  • John 6:65 (NKJV) — “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
  • Acts 13:48 (NKJV) — “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”
  • Romans 9:15-16 (NKJV) — “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.”
  • Romans 9:19-21 “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? Who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”
  • Ephesians 2:8-10 (NKJV) — “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
  • Philippians 1:29 (NKJV) — “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

The Free-Will argument is lacking in its failure to give an answer to the vast biblical evidence of God foreordaining and decreeing all things, both good and evil. Jay Adams, in his book, The Grand Demonstration, provides a more biblical explanation for the problem of evil. Adams points to Romans 9:22-23 as a proof text for what he has coined, “the so-called problem of evil” (Adams, 14).

Romans 9:22-23 (NKJV) — “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory . . .”

In the ninth chapter of Romans, Paul is dealing specifically with election and reprobation, clearly supporting God’s righteousness and ability to display His sovereign prerogative as He shows mercy on some and demonstrates His perfectly just wrath upon others. Anticipating questions regarding the right of God to have mercy on whom He wills and hardening the hearts of those He wills (Romans 9:18), Paul answers by pointing to the sovereignty of God rather than emphasizing the free will of man.

Romans 9:19-21 (NKJV) — “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’ But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?”

A potter has every right to do as he desires with his clay. All people belong to the same lump of fallen humanity through the sin of Adam. All of mankind has willingly rejected God in active sin prior to God hardening their already sinful hearts. The person questioning the justice of God is not pointed to man’s free will for the answer, but rather, to a sovereign God who acts in perfection as He pleases.

All Things For Glory

In Romans 9:22-23, an explanation is given for God’s work in making “one vessel for honor and another for dishonor. These “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” were made for the specific reason of revealing God’s wrath and displaying His power. The “vessels of mercy” were prepared to “make known the riches of His glory.” Likewise, in reference to the wicked Pharaoh in the days of Moses, God says, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth” (Romans 9:17 — NKJV).

The Westminster Confession states that man’s chief end, or purpose in life, is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. What is God’s chief end? John Piper argues convincingly in several of his books (e.g., God’s Passion for His GloryThe Pleasures of God) that God’s chief end is to glorify Himself. God alone is worthy of all glory and honor. God is supreme over all of His creation and stands alone as the all-powerful, eternal, and infinite being over all that exists. For this reason, God’s chief end not only should, but must be to bring glory and honor unto Himself, for He alone is worthy.

As the perfections of God are displayed throughout creation, God is glorified. As a perfect God, He does not possess any possible attributes that will result in glory being removed. Every aspect of the person and character of God are infinitely perfect and good. There is no possibility of a more perfect being-and God alone possesses this quality. As a result, as God demonstrates the perfections of who He is, glory comes to His name.

Through God allowing and foreordaining evil, God works this together to accomplish the work of revealing His person. If God had not allowed sin to enter the world, could man truly know God and worship Him for all that He is? Would man be able to know the grace of God that extends blessings to sinners who deserve wrath? Could man know the love of God had God not displayed it in the greatest manner by laying down His life for those still dead in their sins? God’s holiness and justice are displayed through His wrath upon unrighteousness. The incredible humility and meekness of God was displayed for all creation as God became the least of all men in a fallen and depraved world. As the perfection of God’s holy character is contrasted with an evil world, God’s people are able to find Him alone to be the One who can satisfy their deepest needs as their fountain of living water.

If God’s chief end is to bring glory to His name and God does whatsoever He desires to do, then the existence of evil must be allowed and decreed by God ultimately bringing glory to His name. This does not necessarily mean that each instance of evil can be clearly understood by finite man today, but God can be trusted as He maintains His sovereignty, omniscience, and goodness.

John Frame concludes,

“We cannot always understand why God has chosen evil events to accomplish these good purposes. We do know that God never foreordains an evil event without a good purpose (Rom. 8:28). There may be other reasons than the ones we have mentioned, either to be found in Scripture or to remain locked up in God’s own mind. We know that God has a reason for everything he does. Everything he does reflects his wisdom. But he is under no obligation to give us his reasons. Nevertheless, as we see evil used for good again and again in Scripture, can we not accept in faith that those evils which are yet unexplained also have a purpose in the depths of God’s mind? Again, we do not have a complete theoretical answer to the problem of evil. What we do have is a strong encouragement to trust God even amid unexplained suffering. Indeed, the encouragement is so strong that one would be foolish not to accept it” (Frame, 187).

God has revealed His character to man through both creation and the special revelation of His Word. The skeptic often plays the “problem of evil” card as he raises doubts, confusion, and questions in the minds of many professing Christians. Sadly, the church is often not equipped to answer questions regarding the problem of evil because the theological foundations are not always stable. The cracks in the foundation of the Christian faith are not actual, but man-made by poor theology. Questions regarding evil are not merely trivial but largely impact the personal lives of all people. Emotions become stirred as the question of evil brings to the surface personal trials, difficulties, and tragedies. Looking to a sovereign and good God who allows and decrees evil to demonstrate His character with the ultimate goal of bringing glory and honor to His name does not always answer the details of each individual instance of evil. In the midst of severe trials, the question of “Why?” is often directed towards God. Christians, however, can stand firmly during the difficult times knowing that an sovereign, all-knowing, and all-good God is in complete control working all things together for good.

Bibliography

  • Adams, Jay. The Grand Demonstration. Santa Barbara: East Gate Publishers, 1991.
  • Frame, John. Apologetics to the Glory of God. Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1994.
  • Piper, John. The Pleasures of God. Portland: Multnomah, 1991.
  • Sproul, RC. The Invisible Hand. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996.

Study Resources :: The Problem of Evil. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/evil.cfm

 

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Arrogance of God?

God the Father 16

Question: Isn’t God prideful to demand that we worship him?

Answer: Often, in my youth, I thought smugly to myself, “Sure, God’s big and perfect and everything, but isn’t it rather arrogant of Him to send us to hell for not worshipping Him?” It was an honest question. Ignorant to be sure, but honest just the same. So then why is it okay for God to require we revere Him? It may be best to look at the reasons behind why the same would be wrong of us.

The sin of pride is only a sin because it involves raising the perception of our value above that which it truly is. For man, this is a fairly common event; we are constantly elevating ourselves in our own estimation. We, being corrupt and petty, have an almost insatiable appetite for valuing ourselves more highly than we ought. And this is impossible for God to do.

God, being the non-metaphorical model of perfection cannot be better than He is. In fact, nothing can—for one cannot improve upon perfection. Since God is perfect, there is neither anything wrong with His acknowledging such nor any reason He should not require our worship.

God is infinitely worthy our honor and glory; He deserves our praise. For Him to allow that anything else can be praised in His place would demonstrate Him to be less than perfect. It would be as if He were to say, “Yes, I truly am the only thing in all existence that is worthy of exaltation; but ‘No,’ I do not mind that you exalt a reddish-brown brick over Me.” Now that would just be silly, wouldn’t it?

For these reasons, we do not call God arrogant or prideful when He demands worship.

Study Resources :: Arrogance of God?. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/pride.cfm

 

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The Attributes of God

 

When we speak of God‘s attributes, we are talking about those characteristics that helps us to understand who He truly is. That which follows is a thorough, yet incomplete list and summary of His attributes.

 

Eternality

PROOF TEXTS:

SALIENT POINTS:
Not only will God exist undiminished everlastingly into the future, but He has existed identically throughout the infinite past. Not only has God himself existed eternally into the past, but so also has His plan for His creation. Before the foundations of the world, God ordained the Creation, the Fall, the Incarnation and Resurrection, and the Salvation of His people. This is a wondrous truth for the believer for it grants him confidence in the tenacity of his faith. Once a believer realizes that God has demanded his salvation and perseverance from this sin-stained world he can live without fear in the joy that God offers all of His children. Also of note is the fact that Christ is eternal in His sonship: He existed eternally before his incarnation as the First-Born over creation (though without human form) and will exist eternally post-resurrection as the glorified Son of God (and it seems that He will bear the scars of His sacrifice evermore — cf.Luke 24:36-40 and John 20:24-29).

Goodness

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Exodus 34:6-7 — The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.
  • Psalm 25:8 — Good and upright is the Lord.
  • James 1:17 — Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

SALIENT POINTS:
One of the most intrinsic attributes of God is His goodness. God is not good because it is attractive for Him to be so, nor does He follow after some sort of standard for goodness. God is actually so good that He is the source of goodness; He alone is the rule and measure of what we truly know to be good. To the Christian, the goodness of the Lord is a security. The Christian knows well that he has been bathed in the death and resurrection of Christ and now stands wholly righteous before God; and this being so, he also recognizes all that God will work in his life will be for his own good — for a good God would never work circumstances to the peril of the righteous. Romans 8.28tells that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This is the believer’s rest and assurance. But not so for the unbeliever: the goodness of God demands all circumstances to work together for the bad of those rebellious and hateful towards God. God’s goodness will manifest itself in a wrathful justice against those who are defiled of holiness, for True goodness cannot abide evil.

Grace

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Psalm 145:17 — The Lord is righteous in all His ways, gracious in all His works.
  • Romans 1:5 — Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.
  • Romans 3:24 — [We] being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 5:15,20 — But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one Jesus Christ, abounded to many. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.
  • Ephesians 4:7 — But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
  • Hebrews 4:16 — Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

SALIENT POINTS:
Grace is the bestowal of blessing unearned or unmerited. When we speak of God’s grace, we speak of those wonderful gifts (e.g., salvation) that no man deserves but God grants anyway. There are several methods by which God demonstrates His grace to us. There is what we call “common grace” — this is that grace that God shines upon the elect and the wicked alike. This kind of grace is God’s bestowal of non-eternal blessings (e.g., health, prosperity, good weather, the Sunday comics&c.); in fact, life itself is a gift of common grace to the non-believer since sinful man deserves nothing but death (cf.Genesis 2:15-17 and Romans 6:23). He does not have to give life to any one, no one can demand it from Him, and He can take it when He pleases. The other kind of grace is that special grace which God demonstrates on those whom he inexplicably chooses to be His people. Just as He did with national Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 7:6-8), God chooses His children not because they are more powerful, wise, intelligent, charismatic, pious, handsome, &c., but simply because that is what He wanted. This grace is amazing for it relies not at all upon us, but solely upon God and His will, rather than any service or good we are capable to render. This grace also causes us to throw ourselves at the feet of the Lord in praise and rejoicing for His pleasure in granting us salvation.

Holiness

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Exodus 3:5-6 — Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.
  • 1 Samuel 2:2 — “No one is holy like the Lord.”
  • Psalm 99:2-3 — The Lord is great in Zion, and He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name-He is holy.
  • Isaiah 6:3 — “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”
  • Revelation 4:8 — “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

SALIENT POINTS:
Holiness is synonymous with God’s total purity and separation from the rest of creation. Holiness is a moral purity, and different from Adam’s holiness, God’s is eternally incorruptible. This holiness so sets God apart from fallen man that in his natural state, no man may approach the incorruptible God (for man is tarnished, dirty, and corrupt, and True holiness cannot bear such) — this is evidenced by the special commands to those who would approach God (cf. Exodus 3:4-6Isaiah 6:1-6). God’s holiness is one of the primary reasons why the advent of Christ is so incredible: it allows men who were once unable to come before God the ability to kneel before the throne of God and worship forever and ever (Revelation 4:9-115:14).

Immanence

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Jeremiah 23:23-24 — “Am I a God near at hand?” says the LORD, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.
  • Acts 17:27-28 — He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being.
  • Haggai 2:5 — “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!”

SALIENT POINTS:
Immanence describes a God who is at hand, working through the minutiae of the lives of His creation to produce a love for and enjoyment of His Word, His Gospel, and Himself. God does not sit back and merely observe a creation which he set in motion millennia ago; he is present and actively participating in His world. This gives the believer rest in the knowledge that there is no place or situation that is too far to be under God’s protecting hand.

Immutability

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Malachi 3:6 — “For I am the Lord, I do not change.”
  • James 1:17 — Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

SALIENT POINTS:
In God’s immutability lies a great source of comfort for the believer. The fact that God does not change his mind, his characteristics, his plan, or anything else is a security better than any earthly insurance for it guarantees His quality of character and gives security to the believer that if He has saved one of us, that saved person WILL persevere to the end for God has chosen him and will not change his mind and let that man slip through His fingers into the breach of hell. No, God neither changes His plan, His covenants, His prophecies, nor His justice; this lends greatly to His dependability (“there is [in God] no variation or shadow of turning”).

Justice

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Genesis 18:25 — Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
  • Exodus 34:6-7 — The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.
  • Nehemiah 9:32-33 — However You are just in all that has befallen us.
  • Romans 9:14-33 — What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?
  • Psalm 99:4 — The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
  • Romans 1:32 — Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
  • 1 Peter 1:17 — The Father… without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.

SALIENT POINTS:
The Father of justice, God is the ultimate judge over the lives and actions of men. There seems to be so much injustice in the world (men lie, cheat, steal, and kill all the time with no seeming repercussions), but true justice is not meted out in this earthly realm, but in the true realm (the eternal heavenly realm). In the end, each man will receive his just deserts at the hands of an immutable God who cannot be persuaded or bribed. Christ will look at each man’s heart and if it is the least bit corrupted by sin, that man, not being pure, will receive the justice of hell. The believer too would fail this test, if he were not already made clean by his baptism into Christ’s death. Thus he is rightly judged clean by Christ and enters into eternal Sabbath. In God’s justice, we can find a comfort for all the wrongs perpetrated against us and against mankind. We know that our cruel boss who cheated us for so many years will receive what he deserves. We know that the politician who did wrong to gain personal power will receive justice. We know that killers like Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot will receive justice. And we know that we will receive justice as well. That can be scary for one who truly knows his heart’s deceitfulness and is not a believer, but the Christian rests in his sweet faith in Christ, knowing that he is judged in Christ (cf. Romans 2:16) and his safety is thus secured.

Love

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Deuteronomy 7:7-8 — “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a might hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
  • John 14:31 — “But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.”
  • Romans 5:5,8 — Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
  • Romans 8:35,39 — Who shall separate us from the love of God? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [Neither] height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • 1 John 4:8,16 — He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God abides in him, and who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

SALIENT POINTS:
We all have a basic understanding of what love is, but we are unable to comprehend the depths of True love. This is the love that God embodies. God is the genesis of love; He is its source; and it is by Him that we experience love. God’s love is based in a supreme desire to glorify Himself, for He is the being most worthy of love. By seeking His own glory, God pours forth His love upon His creation that it might better give glory to Him. God loves His creation and better than His creation, God loves His people — those whom He will take with Himself into eternal glory! This is one of the greatest truths of Scripture: in spite of who we are and though God hates the workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5), in spite of all this, God still loves us! It’s amazing.

Mercy

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Psalm 6:4 — Return, O Lord, deliver! Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake!
  • Hebrews 4:16 — Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
  • Romans 9:23,24 — And that he might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
  • Ephesians 2:4 — God, who is rich in mercy.
  • Titus 3:5 — Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 — Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a loving hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

SALIENT POINTS:
Mercy is when that which is deserved is withheld to the benefit of the object of the mercy. God has demonstrated this attribute in abundance with respect to mankind. We from nearly the beginning of our existence have deserved nothing but wrath; having sinned and fallen short of eternal life in glory, we can do nothing to commend ourselves to or defend ourselves before God. But thankfully, God has been so amazing in His mercy. Over and against merely having the mercy to allow us to live out our miserable lives without destroying us instantly, God has chosen us to greatness and glory by the hand of His Son. The believer finds himself in Christ and enjoys full well the fruits of God’s mercy.

Omnipotence

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Romans 11:36 — For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
  • Ephesians 1:11 — In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
  • Hebrews 1:3 — [God’s Son upholds] all things by the word of His power.
  • Mark 14:36 — And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
  • Jeremiah 32:17 — “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for you.”
  • Matthew 19:26 — “With God all things are possible.”
  • Psalm 115:3 — “But our God is in heaven; He does what He pleases.”

SALIENT POINTS:
God has the unlimited power to accomplish anything that can be accomplished — this is termed omnipotence. The things God does are neither difficult nor easy for God; they are only either done or not done. This is because difficulty is a factor that comes about only through the potential for not accomplishing a task. This does not apply to God for potentials do not apply to Him — only actuals. God’s power to do all that He desires is the fuel for the engine of sovereignty, which accomplishes His providence. A senseless challenge to God’s sovereignty is the question of whether He can make a rock so heavy that he couldn’t lift it. This is a senseless question because the feat requested is not a thing to be accomplished through power, but rather by contradiction of reality — the equivalent of asking whether Homer could write an epic so long that he couldn’t read it.

Omnipresence

PROOF TEXTS:

  • 1 Kings 8:27 — “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You.”
  • Job 11:7-9 — Can you search out deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than heaven – what can you do? Deeper than Sheol – what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.
  • Jeremiah 23:23-24 — “Am I a God near at hand?” says the LORD, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the LORD; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD.
  • Psalm 139:7-10 — “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your Spirit? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the utter most parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
  • Psalm 90:1-2 — LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

SALIENT POINTS:
By omnipresence — also referred to as “ubiquity” — we mean that God is everywhere present in the fullness of His being. This allows Him to interact in any places at any times (even in multiple places simultaneously). Being in all locations present in the whole of His being, there is no place we can go and not be in His presence; this is a comfort for Christians and a torment to nonBelievers. God is not spatial or dimensional in existence as we are; if He were, we would constantly be bumping our heads on Him. While it is beyond the scope of our understanding to work out how it is that God can be ubiquitous but act locally, we accept it in like manner as many other recalcitrant ideas: the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation, the ex nihilo Creation, etc.

Omniscience

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Psalm 147:5 — [God’s] understanding is infinite.
  • Ezekiel 11:5 — Then the Spirit of the LORD fell upon me, and said to me, “Speak! ‘Thus says the Lord: “Thus you have said, O house of Israel; for I know the things that come into your mind”‘.”
  • Acts 15:18 — “Known to God from all eternity are all His works.”
  • Romans 11:33 — Oh the depth of His riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
  • 1 John 3:20 — For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
  • Hebrews 4:13 — And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
  • Romans 2:16 — God will judge the secret things of men by Jesus Christ, according to [Paul’s] gospel.

SALIENT POINTS:
When we say God is omniscient, we mean that He knows all that there is to know. There is nothing that is outside the scope of His conception, understanding, or attention. God neither studies nor learns for one cannot increase a knowledge that is already insurmountable. Neither does probability exist for God; all things either are or are not in His perspective. There is no maybe. There are no potentially infinite realities as the faux-hip coffeehouse philosophers and comic book writers are so fond of speculating. There is one reality and God knows it in its entirety, as it exists by, through, and for Him. God is neither surprised by the way the world works itself out, nor shocked by the choices we make. Omniscience is the passive end of His providence — the working out of God’s predetermined purpose via His sovereignty (that is, His mastery over all that is) — in that it is the means by which providence can exist, but neither the engine nor the fuel that brings about His action.

Self-Existence

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Exodus 3:14 — And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
  • Psalm 90:2 — Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.
  • John 1:1-5 — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
  • John 5:26 — “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself.”
  • Colossians 1:15-17 — He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

SALIENT POINTS:
By self-existence, we refer to that unique attribute of God by which He has existed eternally and will always exist so. Unlike all other things that relate to our existence, God does not owe His being to any other thing. I owe my existence to my mother and father and all my varium of ancestors. My computer owes its existence to Compaq employees and a host of subcontractors. And our earth owes its existence to God who through whatever means and processes he saw fit, created the world. All events have causes. All creatures have been created. Except for God. God is the uncaused cause and the uncreated creator. God did not depend upon anything outside Himself for His existence, nor will He ever depend upon anyone for it.

Sovereignty

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Genesis 14:19 – “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
  • Exodus 18:11 – Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.
  • Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases.
  • Matthew 10:29 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”
  • Romans 9:15 – For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.”
  • Ephesians 1:11 – In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.
  • 1 Peter 3:17 – For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

SALIENT POINTS:
Sovereignty tells of God’s divine control over everything that happens. There is nothing outside the control of His loving Hand: not the designs of the wicked (even the plans of history’s most evil dictators), not the way the earth works itself seemingly against the lives of men (such as the recent earthquake in Turkey), not the workings of demons (or even Satan), and not my own free will. Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for the good of God’s children and verses 38-39 implies that there is nothing beyond the control of God’s sovereign hand. God’s sovereignty is a huge source of comfort to the believer, for it helps him to know that no matter how chaotic any situation may seem, he really need not fear for God is still in charge and on the throne (and that combined with His love is unassailable).

Transcendence

PROOF TEXTS:

  • Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
  • Isaiah 57:15 – For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
  • Psalm 113:5-6 – Who is like the Lord our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?
  • John 8:23 – And He said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin. Where I go you cannot come. You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”

SALIENT POINTS:
Transcendence refers to the fact that God is unlike any other being in our experience and so no analogy or comparison can come close to perfectly describing Him. His ways are so other than our ways that we cannot predict Him, categorize Him, or comprehend Him with any sort of accuracy. All that we truly know of God comes solely through what He has chosen to reveal about Himself to us through His Word. As queer as this might seem at first blush, this is really a comfort to the Christian for if God were comparable to us, He would likely have the same problems rectifying the seeming chaos and injustice that is now so rampant on our earth; but thankfully, we know and trust that He will eventually make all things right and pay back every iniquity and reward all righteousness.

Study Resources :: The Attributes of God. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/attributes.cfm

 

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How to Know God

Our Lord Jesus Christ

Did you know that God has offered forgiveness for your sins and assurance of eternal life through faith in His only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?

 

 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18, NKJV).

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3, NKJV).

You may be asking yourself: “How can I know God?” Man is able to know the true and living God through His Word, that is, the Bible. The Bible reveals God’s character and His plan for mankind. It is through reading His Word that we come to a knowledge of the righteousness of God and that which He requires of us.

What is it that prevents us from personally knowing God? Our sin has separated us from God — our corruption is to such a degree that we cannot know Him personally and cannot experience His love. God’s Word says,

“…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” — (Romans 3:23, NKJV).

Man was created to have fellowship with God, but because of his sin (i.e., anything that is against the righteousness revealed in God’s Law) he is prevented from that fellowship. This includes anything less than perfect obedience to God’s commands.

“For the wages of sin is death…” — (Romans 6:23a, NKJV).

The ultimate result of this death is an eternity in Hell. (Matthew 25:41Revelation 20:10). This spiritual death forces a separation from God. Man is sinful and God is holy. This creates a gulf unbridgeable by man making that intended fellowship impossible.

God’s eternal plan was to send His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross and take on our punishment (Romans 5:8Galatians 4:41 John 4:10). He knew no sin and yet became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He died in our place. This removed our burden of sin and allowed us to enter into that desired fellowship through faith in Jesus Christ, and Him alone (John 14:6Acts 4:12).

It is not just enough that you know these truths. We must individually place our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This means repenting of our sins and believing in Jesus Christ as God’s Son who came to earth as a human to die for our sins so that we might have everlasting life with Him. Placing our trust in Jesus requires faith, which is a hope-filled belief in Jesus even though we don’t see Him face to face (John 20:29;Hebrews 11:1). And salvation is by faith alone, not by any works we could do to please God (John 6:28-29).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; [it is] the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” — (Ephesians 2:8-10, NKJV).

“But as many as receive Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” — (John 1:12, NKJV).

Those who place their trust in Jesus become God’s children; and as heirs to heaven are promised the eternal pleasure of glorifying God (Rom. 8:16-17Gal. 3:29). As our life here on earth progresses, God will continue to work in our hearts, daily changing and conforming us into the image of Christ, Himself (1 John 3:2). We will begin to live lives of righteousness. Obedience to God will not be a burden to us, but rather a joy.

The invitation to place your trust in Jesus Christ by faith is open to all. Friend, if you are not a child of God, we pray that today would be the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” — Romans 10:9-10, NKJV

If you have placed your trust in Jesus Christ by faith, you may be wondering “What next?” Our greatest recommendation for believers, new and old, is fourfold:

  1. Locate a Bible-based church that soundly preaches the Word and rejoice in the fellowship of other Christians.
  2. Study the Bible for that is where we learn of the greatness of God and His plans.
  3. Pray to God, asking Him to strengthen your faith and increase your love toward Him.
  4. Enjoy the blessings given by God in the heavenly ordained sacraments: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

All of these are meant to encourage and build up your faith as well as the faith of those around you.

If you have any questions, search the Scriptures, ask your Pastor, or please feel free to ask us. If you would like some guidance in locating a Bible-based church, even in other parts of the world, we’d be privileged to help in any way possible.

Study Resources :: How to Know God. Retrieved from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/knowgod.cfm

 

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