09.04.22 Evening - Baptist Catechism Q8 - Part 2
Good evening. •We are continuing our study of the Baptist Catechism. •Specifically, we are using the edition found in the white catechism booklets that we give away here at the church. •And this evening, we come once again to Question 8. •Our question this evening is this: “What is God?” Last time we considered that “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being…” •And now we will consider some of His other attributes this evening. •We’re going to consider some more things that are true about God. And they are all infinite, eternal, and unchangeable as well. NOTE: Though we must distinguish the attributes of God because of our finite human minds, all of what we call God’s “attributes” are really one in Him because God is one. •God is not made up of attributes or parts like you and me. God is one. (Theologians say that God is “simple.”) •But we lack adequate language to speak about God as He is in Himself. And that’s because we are finite and He is infinite. •So all of our talk about God, while it can be true, it is not describing God in the absolute, total fullness of who He is. (Again, we lack that kind of language because God is infinite and incomprehensible and we are finite.) •So then, even though God is one and is not made up of parts, we must consider His attributes individually because of our human finitude and frailty. •So that’s what we will do this evening, by God’s grace. •And the attributes that we will be considering are these: His wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. As I said last time we were in the catechism, the subject of God is beyond me. It’s too deep. •And, to be completely honest, it makes me very nervous to speak to you this evening. To try to preach and answer the question “What is God?” is incredibly intimidating and humbling. •To my own shame, and as a confession of my own ignorance, I want to tell you that I’ve just in the past year begun to really study and consider theology proper (the doctrine of God). •So, I’m sill very, very much a novice in these things. •Add to that the fact that God is incomprehensible and you begin to see why the subject of God makes a preacher nervous to speak. But I am going to do my best. And I simply want to affirm what our catechism says about God and then flesh it out a little from Scripture. •And we will barely even begin to scratch the surface of our incomprehensibly great God. •And, like last time, I believe we will be knocked to the ground in awe of who God is. •And we will be led to worship Him because He is worthy simply because of who He is. NOTE: Just a heads up: I will be reading from a lot of different places in Scripture. And for the sake of time, I won’t be waiting for you to follow me there. •If you’d like to have a copy of all my Scripture references, tell me and I’ll give them to you. So, with that said, I will pray for God’s blessing on the preaching of His Word and then we will consider our question for this evening. (PRAY) Holy God, You are beyond us. You are greater than our greatest words can tell. You are simply God. And we stand in awe of you. And in our weakness, we ask that you would help us to understand more of who you are. We know that we will never fathom your infinite depths. But we also know that we can understand you more than we currently do. So we ask that you would reveal yourself to us in your Word and by your Holy Spirit this evening. Teach us. And knock us to the ground in awe of who you are. Give us a glimpse of your glory this evening. And grant that we would worship you more sincerely and deeply because of it. We ask these things in Jesus’ Name and for His sake. Amen. Our question for this evening. I ask that you would read the answer with me. Q. What is God? A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. •(Let’s do that again.) 1.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His WISDOM. •Now what are we talking about when we say “wisdom?” •I believe there are two parts to this: 1. God’s knowledge of all things. 2. God’s proper use of His knowledge of all things to direct the world to His holy purposes. •You must have knowledge to have wisdom. And you must know how to properly use and apply knowledge in order to be wise. •So then, once again, when we talk about God’s wisdom we are talking about His omniscience and His unquestionably good use of that knowledge. With regard to God’s knowledge of all things, we turn to Job 21:22. •“Will any teach God knowledge, seeing that He judges those who are on high?” •This is a rhetorical question. And the answer is a flat “No. Nobody will teach God knowledge.” •Why is that? Because God is not in need of a teacher. Because God does not need a lesson in anything. •All knowledge is His. •For Him to have a teacher would mean that His knowledge is dependent upon another. But the Word of God is clear that God is not dependent upon anything. He does not depend upon His creation for anything. •So then, He does not depend upon anything for knowledge. All knowledge is His. God does not learn. He has no teacher. And I also love the fact that Job 21:22 says that “He judges those who are on high.” •It’s mocking the idea that God would have a teacher since God is the one who judges the judges of the earth. •God judges the ones who are supposed to have the most knowledge and wisdom on earth: Kings, judges, civil magistrates, etc. •So, of course nobody teaches God. The wisest of men are judged by Him. Why? Because He is wiser and more knowledgeable than they are. Because wisdom and knowledge are HIS. Another text to consider is Romans 11:34. •“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?” •Again, the Apostle Paul asks the question, “Who has ever taught God? Who has ever given Him advice? Who has God ever sought out for wise counsel?” •The answer, of course, is NOBODY. •God has never asked anyone for advice EVER. Because He has no need of it. He is wise. He doesn’t just know all things, He perfectly knows what to do with His knowledge. •Proverbs 2:6-7 says, “For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright…” •Solomon tells us that God gives wisdom. •So if a man has wisdom, it has been given from God. •This means that all wisdom proceeds from God. That’s why Solomon says, “from His mouth come knowledge and understanding…” Wisdom PROCEEDS from God. •Wisdom is His to give because He has all of it. Brothers and sisters, our God always knows what to do. •His actions are unquestionably wise. •Paul says that they are “unsearchable and inscrutable.” And the Apostle can say that because God is infinitely wise. There is no lacking in God for wisdom. •And He is eternally wise. He has always been this wise. He has always been infinitely wise. It’s who He is. •And He is unchangeably wise. He will never grow in knowledge or wisdom. He will never know more or less. And He will never be in need of advice from any of His creatures, for He knows perfectly what to do. Marvel at this, Christian: •God has never said, “I hadn’t thought of that. I didn’t know that. I hadn’t considered that. I wish I had known that. I wish I had done differently.” •All of those things are foreign to Him because He is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably wise. •Consider this: God has never said, “I WONDER…” •How different He is from His ignorant and unwise creatures. 2.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His POWER. •When we talk about God’s power, we’re talking about His ability to do all His holy will. His ability to DO everything that He desires, as He sees fit. Consider with me Psalm 62:11. •“Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God…” •Hear that again: “POWER BELONGS TO GOD.” •The ability to “DO” belongs to Him. •The ability to act and produce an effect (that is the definition of power), BELONGS TO GOD. •Power as a concept, belongs to HIM. (That’s wild.) •And that means that if anyone has power, they have received it from God. If anyone has any ability to do, exist, anything whatsoever, it is because God has given it. •This is why the Apostle Paul can say, “In Him we live and move and have our being…” (Acts 17:28) •Power belongs to the LORD. And that means that God is all-powerful. God is omnipotent. •There is nothing He cannot do, that He desires to do. •Jeremiah 32:27 says, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” •What a question that God asks! “Is anything too hard for me?” •If you say “Yes,” you are a blasphemer. •There is nothing that our Lord cannot do that He desires to do. NOT ONE SINGLE THING. God cannot be overpowered by another. •Daniel 4:35 says, “all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to His will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” •The entire creation is accounted as NOTHING before Him. He does all that He pleases. And no one can stop Him or even QUESTION HIM. And His power cannot be exhausted. •Isaiah 59:1 says, “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that is cannot save…” •God’s hand is never shortened. That is metaphorical language to say that God never runs out of power. •He will never lack the ability to do what He desires to do. Our God is infinite in power. •And He has always been this way. •And He will always be this way. •That’s why He calls Himself “God Almighty” so many times in the Scriptures. •He is the all-mighty God. Infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His power. Consider this and be amazed: •God has never tried. “Tried to do what?” ANYTHING. •To “try” implies the possibility of failure. And to “fail” means that you lacked the ability to “do.” •God has never made an attempt to do anything. He just DOES what He wills. •God has never failed to do exactly what He willed to do. •And He has never been tired. For Him, to “do” takes no effort. He is pure power. In fact, for Him to “will” something is to “do” it because He is almighty. •He has never had to take a break. He has never been overpowered. •God has never said, “I wish I could…” •He is not like us. We are weak. But He is power itself. 3.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His HOLINESS. •I believe there are two things we’re talking about when we talk about the holiness of God: 1. The “other-ness” of God. His transcendence. His uniqueness as God. 2. God’s hatred of sin and being separate from sin and sinners unless an atonement is present. First, let’s consider His “other-ness.” •In Isaiah 6:3, we read how the angels fly around the throne of God, covering their faces and bodies so as not to look upon God in the fullness of His glory. •And they all cry out, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” •The word “holy” is repeated three times. This is a Hebrew way to express the superlative. •In other words, God is most holy, the holiest, the highest, the most unique. There are none like Him. He IS holy. He doesn’t have holiness. HE IS HOLY. God is utterly distinct from His creation. He is “other” from His creation. •Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” His ways are not our ways. They are higher. They are beyond us. •Numbers 23:19 declares, “God is not man…” He is not one of us. He is different from us. •In Acts 14 we read of how the pagans tried to worship Paul and Barnabas. An in v15 they told the pagans, “We are also men, of like nature with you…” This means that men do not share the same nature as God. God is of a wholly different nature than His creation. •In Psalm 50:21 God rebukes His People and says, “you thought that I was one like yourself.” God is not like us. •1 Timothy 6:16 says that God, “dwells in unapproachable light…” We cannot approach God in His God-ness. •In Exodus 3:14 God declares, “I AM WHO I AM.” He simply is who He is, in and of Himself. His essence is one undivided essence. He is dependent upon none. He is pure being. He is unchanging. He simply IS. Brothers and sisters, God is OTHER. God is HOLY. •That’s why He says in Isaiah 40:25, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him?” •He has no equal. He has no parallel. He has no one for us to truly, in every regard, compare Him to. •And it is therefore an INSULT to His majesty to compare Him, without caveat, to anyone or anything. •Our God is above all that He has made in every single way. •He is not simply a bigger, more powerful version of us. He is unlike us. He is holy, holy, holy. And He is pure. He is the true hater of sin and has no fellowship with sin. •Isaiah 59:2 says, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.” •1 Corinthians 6:9 says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” •Psalm 5:4-5 says, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” •Brothers and sisters, God hates sin. •Sin is repulsive to Him. Sin is the opposite of holiness. Sin is defilement. •He will have no fellowship with it whatsoever. And He will have no fellowship with sinful men apart from an atonement. •Consider all the texts of Scripture that talk about the necessity of sacrifice, the necessity of being made clean, the necessity of an atonement or propitiation for sin. •God’s demand for a sacrifice for sin in order to forgive and have restored fellowship with sinners PROVES His holiness. •The fact that God required the Lord Jesus Christ to die on a cross in our place in order to make us clean and pure in His sight, is proof that God is holy, holy, holy. Our God is infinite in His holiness. It knows no bounds. He is perfectly pure and innocent and spotless and “other.” •And He has always been this way. And He will always be this way. •He will never change His holy nature. He will never have fellowship with sin. He will never countenance sinners apart from the atoning work of Christ. •And He will never be like us. Ever. Marvel at this: •We cannot imagine what it is like to be unlike anything else. To have no comparison. To have no equal or rival in any way whatsoever. •We are so easily compared to so many things in this world. But God is beyond all comparison. And we cannot imagine what is is like to INTRINSICALLY hate sin so purely and perfectly that the thought of sin is detestable to us. •Yes, we who have been born again hate sin. But we do not hate it perfectly. And we only hate it because God has wrought a change in us to do so. •But God hates it intrinsically. •And He is so perfectly holy that He planned the work of Christ to make reconciliation between Him and sinners. We cannot imagine what it is like to be this. •But this is our God. And this is who He is. 4.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His JUSTICE. •God’s justice means that He always deals perfectly with His creatures. He never does them wrong. •Specifically, He always deals perfectly with His creatures with regard to their relationship to His Moral Law. All throughout Scripture God tells us that He is JUST. •The Psalmist says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne…” (Psalm 89:14) •He is seated in righteousness. And He never leaves His throne. Righteousness is who He is. •Psalm 145:17 tells us, “The LORD is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works.” •Hear that! ALL HIS WAYS are righteous. He never misjudges. And He never mistreats anyone. He always does what is right. And He is the Judge of all mankind. •Romans 12:19 says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” •He takes vengeance on the wicked. He ensures that justice is always done in the end, in some way, according to His righteous will. •And, as we have seen, He has the POWER to execute judgment. And as Creator, He has the RIGHT to execute judgment. And all the all-wise God, His judgments are always right and proper. •All of creation will render an account to God. And His judgments are always perfectly righteous and just. •He has never and will never misjudge or over-punish or make a bad call. •He is justice itself. NOTE: God does not give justice to all. He does give mercy to many through Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. •So then, not all receive justice from God. •But to give mercy to some and not all is NOT an injustice. It is not unjust of Him. •To give mercy is His prerogative. And He does not owe all men mercy. He owes, so to speak, all men justice. •But even when He gives no mercy to the wicked, He still does not over-judge or punish them too harshly. He simply gives them what they deserve: damnation. •He NEVER DOES INJUSTICE to anyone. •Furthermore, the fact that His mercy toward the Elect came at the cost of the Son of God on a cross shows that God never sets aside His justice in order to show mercy. •Justice was done on Christ, in place of His People, at the Cross. Justice was served, just not on the Elect. And let’s flesh that out a little now: •Exodus 34:7 says, that God is, “…forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty…” •God forgives sin. But He will by no means clear the guilty. He will not pass by their sin. God forgives, but still demands justice even as He forgives. •What does this mean? It means that an atonement must be made for the guilty. •Someone has to pay for the sins of the wicked in order for God to forgive them and yet remain just. •Justice must be served. And God demands it because He is justice. •And this is why the atoning work of Christ is necessary for us to be forgiven. •And, praise God, this is why John tells us that God is “faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) •God forgives sinners. But not at the expense of justice. And that is why we need Christ. Marvel at this: •God’s judgments and dealings with His creation are absolutely above question. •He may not always do what we want, but there is NO UNRIGHTEOUSNESS in God. Unlike us, He has never mistreated anyone. •Even His forgiveness does not compromise His justice. Unlike us, He has never winked at sin or compromised righteousness. •He has never done an injustice. And He never will. For He is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably just. 5.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His GOODNESS. •God’s goodness is His benevolence and general care of all He has made. One of the most often repeated statements in Scripture is that God is good. •Psalm 34:8 famously tells us, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!” •And again Psalm 145:9 says, “The LORD is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.” •God is simply good. And He is good to all. •And He cares for His creation. He governs everything with His kind and good Providence. •He made and sustains His creation with all the things we need and many kindnesses that we do not need. Consider that the transcendent God even cares at all about creatures so far beneath Him. •This is surely a sign of His goodness. That He takes notice of us at all. Consider James 1:17: •“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” •Hear me: If it is good, it is from God. If there is any joy in it, it is from God. •Sinners often abuse God’s gifts. But the fact that there is any pleasure or enjoyment in anything whatsoever means that God has given it. •Every good thing comes from the all-good God down to us because He is good and delights in doing good for His creation. God is even good to sinners. •Jesus tells us, “For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) •Even those who do not fear Him, love Him, respect Him, or give Him any thought still receive goodness and kindness from His holy hands. •Surely, this is infinite goodness that staggers our imagination. And He is good to some in a special way: He sovereignly chooses to save His Elect. •That means that He has chosen to be especially good to some. •Consider how good and benevolent God must be to plan and execute redemption for sinners! •Especially when you consider that He did not need to save us at all. His glory is not diminished by our sin. He receives nothing from us that He does not already have. •He saved us simply because He is good and desired to show us His goodness and do good for us. The goodness of our God knows no bounds. He is infinitely good. •And He has always been and always will be. •And how good it is to know that He is unchangeably good! That means that we cannot bring about a change in Him that makes Him ever cease to be good to His creation. •He will always care for the works of His hands. Especially His redeemed People. Marvel at this: •God is unceasingly good. Even to the wicked. Even to us. 6.) God is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His TRUTH. •What is the truth of God? What does it mean that God is the truth? •It means that He always does exactly what He has said He will do. And that He can do no other than what He has promised to do. •In other words, God being truth means that God is FAITHFUL. Consider 1 Peter 1:24-25. •“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” •Peter tells us that the Word of God will never fail. •Why does he say that? How does he know that? •It won’t fail because God will make sure that all that He has promised will come to pass. •God will do all that He has said. He is no liar. He is never mistaken. He will do it. Hebrews 10:23 is another text to consider: •“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” •God is true. God is faithful. •God does not know how to be anything other than faithful and true. •When God promises, He does it. •When He threatens, He does it if the condition is met. •His word will never fail because He will never fail. Please, hear me: He is TRUTH. •He will not forget to keep His Word, for He is wisdom. •He will not be unable to keep His Word, for He is power. •He will lie to you, for He is holy. •He will not back down from His threats, for He is just. •He will not fail to keep His promises for He is good. •Brothers and sisters, our God is the truth. And that means that He is trustworthy to the fullest. •He will never deceive you. He will never let you down. Our God is infinitely, eternally, and unchangeably true. •Brothers and sisters, He cannot be anything other than true. •Marvel at this: It is literally NOT WITHIN GOD to lie or break a promise or be unable to keep His Word. •Unlike us, who are so frail and so often cannot or do not keep our word to others, God has never failed. •Our God is truth. 7.) Brothers and sisters, as we end our time together in the Word this evening, hear me: •Worship this God. •He is simply worthy. •Stand in awe of Him. Contemplate Him in all His glory as best as you can. •And WORSHIP HIM simply for who He is in Himself. And know this and be glad: •This God, who is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in all that He is, has made you His child by grace. •He is FOR you. As unbelievable as that may sound, He really is. He really loves you. He really cares for you. •And He has willingly obligated Himself to you in covenant through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be comforted in every circumstance of life. •This God, Christian, is your God. •And there are none like Him. •Amen.