In our last post, we spent time defining the terms "spirit" and "spirituality". Such conceptual ground clearing was deemed important due to the prevailing climate of atheistic materialism on the one hand and Eastern spirituality on the other hand. Christian people are more affected by these two worldviews than realized. By getting our bearings on what these terms mean in their linguistic history and general use in the Bible, we can now dive into God's spirituality. As I noted in the last post, theologian Wayne Grudem defined God's spirituality as,
"God's spirituality means that God exists as a being that is not made of any matter, has no parts or dimensions, is unable to be perceived by our bodily senses, and is more excellent than any other kind of existence."
Theologian and speaker Steven J. Lawson, in his study on the attributes of God, has noted three terms that are helpful in getting our minds and hearts to track with this attribute. Lawson's terminology below meshes well with what we just observed in Grudem’s quote above.
1. Immaterial, without a physical or material nature.
2. Infinite, without limitations in regards to any attribute, His being, and thus His character.
3. Invisible or not having ever been directly viewed or comprehended by any creature.
As a final review note, we offered the following definition of "spirit" - that animating, immaterial, vital energy of a being that moves, causes, produces, and affects whatever it touches, influences, or acts. Readers may review the commentary on this definition in the last post here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/09/post-13-doctrine-of-god-p1-gods.html
How the Living God in His spirituality is different from angels and humans.
We can note other scriptures which remind us that God "does not dwell in temples made with hands; neither is He served by men's hands, as though He needed anything" (Acts 17:24-25). One phrase we find throughout the Bible is where God is revealed as "the Living God". This phrase contrasts God with the mute idols, which in Psalm 115:3-8 have no spirit in them, nor are even spiritual in nature, and thus cannot see, hear, talk, or do anything.
Some 27 times this phrase "the living God is found" to indicate the spirituality of God who, by nature, is that eternal animating, immaterial, vital energy of His own being that moves, causes, produces, and affects whatever He touches, influences, or acts.
As He is as an infinite spirit (John 4:24; Hebrews 12:9), God is not composed of parts like animals, angels, or humans.
Angels for instance, though being spirit by nature, nonetheless still have other qualities that depend on their spiritual nature to move, learn, and exercise power. The angels are created spirit beings (Job 38; Psalm 104). God on the other hand is spirit, and thus He depends on nothing that causes Him to be one way and then another or having to move from one place and then to another (Isaiah 46:9-10).
As the eternal spirit being, God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient (Psalm 139:1-7). Human beings are at least two-part beings (having physical bodies, for instance Genesis 2:7 and a soul or seat of personality that is immaterial, also Genesis 2:7). Other Scriptures clarify that when viewing human beings in light of their contact with God or Scripture, there appears then a third aspect of mankind in what is called his or her human spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12).
Human beings as composite physical/non-physical creatures are limited to time and space. The spirit of a person is confined to their body until death (Luke 16; 2 Corinthians 5:5-6). God on the otherhand is not (remember, He is a pure, eternal spirit, with no physical body).
One author has noted that the spirit in a person is their center of "God-awareness". This point makes sense, for in the spirit of a person we find the imprint of God's very image, as well as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Colossians 3).
How Scripture uses figurative language to help us connect to God's spirituality.
We have discussed before in this blog series of how God reveals Himself two ways in the Bible http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/08/post-10-doctrine-of-god-gods-attribute.html. He speaks to us in direct language or "univocal language", meaning that there is a one-to-one correspondance to something like "God is omnipotent" and our understanding that God means He is all powerful. Then there is a second sense Scripture speaks about God, namely analogical language in which God accomodates Himself in His revelation to us through human language in figures of speech.
This second means of God's self-disclosure or revelation to us is important to note, since often we find human body parts (anthropomorphisms) and human emotions (anthrpopathisms) often describe God. By keeping in mind that these are figures of speech, and not literal attributes of God, we can avoid the error of thinking God is physical or somehow a bigger version of ourselves. More importantly, such figures of speech aid us in relating to God as He is as the eternal, spiritual being revealed in the Bible.
Nineteenth century Baptist theologian J.P. Boice on page 63 of his "Abstract of Theology" summarized how God is described by these various figures of speech in the analogical language of the Bible. Interested readers may view these references and the way they reveal God in the endnote following this post. 1
How God's spirituality relates to the Person of the Holy Spirit.
As we wrap this post, I would be remiss if I did not mention how this attribute of Divine spirituality relates to the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 9:14 reminds us,
"how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
In all we have explored in this post, we can say that the Divine nature of God as being spiritual, including those eternal attributes that are the actions of His spiritual, eternal essence, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit as a member of the Trinity truly and entirely is eternally spiritual by nature as God.
We know that the Holy Spirit is by nature Yahweh or Jehovah God (Acts 5:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:16-17). We know Scriptures equate the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son (Genesis 1:2; John 14:16-17; 15:26), being of the same essence or "kind" as the Son, who in turn is of the same essence or kind as the Father, with all three being One God in Trinity.
Applying God's spirituality.
As Steve Lawson noted in a lecture on this attribute, it is comforting to know that God is as much here as He is with loved ones in a hospital room or who are alone without nearby family. Jeremiah 23:23-24 reminds us, “Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord, “And not a God far off? 24 “Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.
Second, we can note that as spiritual by nature, God in the Person of the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian, and all true believers. He is able to be truly and entirely present in my life and all Christians without diminishment. This comforts me because as a Christian, I never have to fear of being ultimately alone.
Lastly, the third Person of the Trinity, having that same eternal spiritual nature of God as the Father and Son, pursues after those sinners whom the Father has pledged to His Son. This means no sinner is too far off from the grace and influence of God, since His spirituality is not limited by any barrier.
1. J.P. Boice's listing of figure of speech used in the Bible to describe God,
1. Those which speak of him as having location: Gen. 4:16; Ex. 19:17-20; 20:21; 33:14, 15.
2. As having motion: Gen. 17:22; 18:33; Ex. 19:20; Num. 12:5; 23:4; Deut. 33:2; Judg. 5:4; 1 Sam. 4:7; Ps. 47:5; 68:7, 8; Ezek. 11:23; Micah 1:3; Hab. 3:3; Zech. 2:13.
3. As using vehicles: 2 Sam. 22:11; Ps. 18:10; 104:3; Hab. 3:8, 15; Zech. 9:14.
4. He is said to dwell on the earth: Ex. 25:8; 29:43, 44; 1 Kings 6:13; 8:12, 13; 2 Chron. 6:1, 2; Ps. 132:14; Mic. 1:2, 3; Hab. 2:20.
5. He dwells with man: Ex. 29:45; Lev. 26:11, 12; 2 Chron. 6:18; Zech. 2:10; Rev. 21:3.
6. He dwells in men: 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19.
7. He has face: Gen. 32:30; Ex. 33:11, 20; Deut. 5:4; 34:10; Rev. 20:11; eyes: 2 Chron. 16:9; Prov. 22:12; nostrils: 2 Sam. 22:9, 16; Ps. 18:15; mouth: Num. 12:8; Ps. 18:8; lips and tongue: Isa. 30:27; breath: Isa. 30:28; shoulders: Deut. 33:12; hand and arms: Ex. 33: 22, 23; Ps. 21:8; 74:11; 89:13; 118:16; Isa. 52:10; Hab. 3:4; fingers: Ps. 8:3; back: Ex. 33:23; feet: Ps. 18:9; voice: Ex. 19:19; 20:22; Lev. 1:1; Num. 7:89; 12:4; 22:9; Deut. 4:12, 36; 1 Kings 19:12, 13; Ps. 29:3-9; 68:33; Jer. 25:30, 31; Ezek. 43:6.
8. His voice is spoken of as dreaded: Ex. 20:19; Deut. 4:33; 5:24-26; Joel 2:11; 3:16; Amos 1:2; Heb. 12:19, 26.
9. He is said to exercise laughter: Ps. 2:4.
10. He appears to men: Gen. 35:9; 48:3; Ex. 3:2-6; 19:9; 1 Kings 9:2; Job 42:5, 6; Amos 9:1.
11. His appearance is described: Ex. 24:10; Deut. 31:15; Isa. 6:1; Ezek. 8:1, 2, 4; 43:2; Dan. 7:9, 10; Rev. 4:5.
12. He is in human form: Gen. 18:1; Ezek. 1:26, 27; Rev. 4:2, 3.