Sunday, July 17, 2016

Exploring a seven-fold description of God's nature

Isaiah 40:9 Get yourself up on a high mountain,O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; Lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”

Today's post is going to focus attention upon the seven-fold description of God's nature as given in the Baptist Faith & Message 2000. From the onset it must be recognized that any knowledge we derive about God's essence and being must be checked against scripture. The Bible is the ultimate rule and standard of faith and practice. Doctrinal statements, confessions and historic Christian creed represent Christian reflection on the primary source documents of faith which are the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. 

The Baptist Faith & Message 2000 represents what one would find in other reliable doctrinal statements such as the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creeds and other historic, conservative, Bible believing statements. Readers can access online the entire document of the BFM 2000 at Below I will lay out the second sentence contained in the BFM 2000 article on "God", followed by a brief exposition of the seven statements pertaining to God's nature. Relevant scriptures will  be included so as to round out the necessary Biblical foundation for each term.   

1. The BFM 2000 statement regarding God's nature
"He is an intelligent, spiritual, and personal Being, the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe."

2. The seven-fold description of God's nature

-Intelligent. God is an immaterial mind that stands in causal relation to the universe (Genesis 1:1-2; Psalm 33:6; 1 Corinthians 8:6-7). God's intelligence covers all knowledge of true facts concerning the created order past, present and future (Psalm 139:1-6; 147:5; Romans 11:33-36). 

-Spiritual. God's very essence is that of immaterial, not material. Unlike paganism, which asserts a mixture of immateriality and materiality or Mormonism, which conceives of a host of greater and lesser material-like deities stretching back through eternity, the Bible alone asserts the complete immateriality or spirituality of God. Jesus asserted such in John 4:24. Imagery such as fire and wind are used to convey the fact that God is not material, but immaterial, not compose of parts. Hence, God as ultimate, ultimate reality is spiritual and intelligent.

-Personal. This third description of the Divine nature of God speaks to the fact that this One God is endowed with freedom of the will, intentionality, emotions and of course intellect. Both Isaiah (Isaiah 41:21-25) and the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 8:1-6) contrast the mute, impersonal, lifeless idols worshipped by fallen man with the Personal God of Divine revelation. With respect to God's Triune identity, it would be correct to say that God is truly "inter-personal", since as One essence expressed and lived out in, through and by the Three Persons of the Trinity: Father, Son and Spirit, God's Personality is underscored. Sometimes it is asked how an infinite being life God could produce a finite universe if He, being the infinite cause of all things, should had produced an infinite effect. The answer to this lies in God being Personal. As God possess His own will, He could choose in eternity when to bring about the universe and all of its contents (Ephesians 1:11). Scripture asserts that God as the Personal Being holds together what He has made (Daniel 4:35). Jesus Christ, as the incarnation and full-revelation of God, is ascribed the same description as it pertains to His deity (Colossians 1:13-16).

-Creator, Redeemer, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe
These last four descriptions really outline the plot-line of scripture with respect to God's dominating presence. We've seen how God is the Creator of all things. Genesis 1-2 details how God alone is the Creator of all things. As Redeemer, God came to Adam and Eve after their fall in Genesis 3. From Genesis 3-Revelation 22 we find out that God in the Persons of the Father, Son and Spirit had planned from all eternity to redeem fallen human beings who so touched and opened by His grace would believe, repent and be saved. God as Redeemer chose to create a world including the cross. 

As Preserver, God sustains the whole created order, history and humanity by act of His ongoing Providence. The Father sustains such by His will (Ephesians 1:11); the Son does so by the Word of His power in concert with the Father (Colossians 1:13-16) and the Spirit animates all things by His uncreated, life-giving power that He shares with the Father and the Spirit (Psalm 104). 

Then finally, as Ruler of the universe, this covers God's ruling activity from before creation through the specifics of the Kingship of Jesus Christ to what will be the bringing about of the New Heavens and Earth (Psalm 90; 1 Corinthians 15:23-28).

Closing thoughts
Today we only sketched what is undoubtedly the incomprehensible nature of God. It is hoped that this exploration of the seven-fold description given in the BFM 2000 will cause all of us to know God in a deeper and richer way. 

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