Cornerstone Bible InstituteTheology I Class Session #6The Attributes of God
I. Review and Reflection from “Attributes of God” • An attribute is simply something that is true about God. • An attribute is not something that is true of part of God. • An attribute is not something that is added to God. • An “incommunicable attribute” is a character quality of God that is less reflected by man. • There is a infinitely vast gap between the Creator and the Creation.
“God’s being is. . . something totally unique. . . The difference between the creature and the Creator is an immensely vast difference. .. God exists in a fundamentally different order of being. . . The difference between God’s being and ours is more than the difference between the sun and a candle, more than the difference between the ocean and a raindrop, more than the difference between the arctic ice cap and a snow flack, more thant eh difference between the universe and the room we are sitting in: God’s being is qualitatively different. . . He is the Creator; all else is creaturely. All else can pass away in an instant; he necessarily exists forever.”-Wayne Grudem (emphasis mine)
Incommunicable Attributes of God (Last Week) • The Incomprehensibility of God • Psalm 145:3 – Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable. • Because God is infinite and we are finite, we can never fully understand God. • Although we cannot know God fully, we can know Him accurately. • Within each single attribute there is an incomprehensible depth of understanding to be explored.
Theof God • Exodus 3:14 – And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.” • God is uncreated and uncaused. • His essence and being exists eternally without external condition or contingencies. • Augustine – “God is the absolute IS”.
Theof God • Malachi 3:6 – “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” • God is unchangeable in His essence, attributes, consciousness and will. • God’s immutability is closed tied into His self-existence. • God’s immutability is of great comfort to the believer in Christ.
Theof God • Psalm 90:2 – Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. • God is infinite in relation to time. • “God has no beginning, end, or succession of moments in his own being, and he sees all time equally vividly, yet God sees events in time and acts in time.” • God’s eternity is closely related to His immutability and self-existence.
Reflections on the Incommunicable Attributes of God • The influence of sin is to see man as big and God as small. • The key to experiencing joy and fulfillment is not making much of yourself, but making much of God. • The bigger our view of God gets, the bigger our view of the cross must also get. • The privilege of the believer in Christ is to know this God in an intimate, personal way. (Rom. 8:15) • The gospel is not that I pursued God but that God pursued me.
Break Please return in 10 minutes
II. The Sovereign Freedom of God • Introduction • Last week’s teaching can be summed up in the one sentence: I AM WHO I AM. • Exodus 3:14 – And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” • The implication for Moses was not just the message “I AM”, but also “I will be with you“ • Hebrews 13:5 – He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” • Matthew 28:20 – lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. • Isaiah 40:31 – Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.
This week’s teaching can be summed up in the one sentence: • “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” (Exodus 33:19)
The Attribute of God’s Sovereign Freedom • This attribute is really a combination of two distinct attributes, God’s Sovereignty and God’s freedom. • God’s Sovereignty: God is infinite in power. • Isaiah 46:9-10 – “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure; • 1 Chronicles 29:11 – “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O LORD, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all.
God’s Freedom: God does whatever He pleases. • Psalm 115:3 – But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. • Psalm 135:6 – Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all the deeps.
The Doctrine of Sovereign Freedom: God does all for the sake of His sovereign good pleasure • Isaiah 46:10 – Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure; • Ephesians 1:11 – having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
We must handle this doctrine carefully because many believers struggle with accepting this teaching. • Jonathan Edwards – “From childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. . . It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember the time very well, when I seemed to be convinced, and full satisfied, as to this sovereignty of God, and his justice in thus eternally . . . [dealing with] men, according to his sovereign pleasure. . . there has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, in respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against it, in the most absolute sense, in God’s shewing mercy to whom he will show mercy. . . (bold-This doctrine has very often appeared exceeding pleasant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.” (emphasis mine)
John Piper – “I believed. . . in the [self-determination of man]. . . I had not learned this from the Bible; I absorbed it from the independent, self-sufficient, self-esteeming, self-exalting air that you and I breathe every day of our lives in America. The sovereignty of God meant that he can do anything with me that I give him permission to do. . . Emotions run high when you feel your man-centered world crumbling around you. . . But thanks be to God’s mercy and patience, at the end of the semester I wrote in my blue book for the final exam, “Romans 9 is like a tiger going about devouring free-willers like me.” That was the end of my love affair with human autonomy and the ultimate self-determination of my will. My worldview simply could not stand against the scriptures, especially Romans 9. And it was the beginning of a lifelong passion to see and savor the supremacy of God in absolutely everything.”
Typical Process • Passionate objection • Intellectual persuasion • Heart affection • Passionate rejoicing • . . .in the end, the attribute of God’s sovereign freedom is not a doctrine to be debated, but a truth to be rejoiced over!
Implications of God’s Sovereign Freedom • Humility • Security • Hope • No self-boasting
Questions for Discussion and Application • What is your immediate response to the doctrine of God’s sovereign freedom? Do you have any questions regarding this teaching? • Can you relate to Jonathan Edwards’ and John Piper’s struggle with this doctrine? Why and how? Discuss.
Break Please return in 10 minutes
III. God’s Sovereign Freedom in Salvation: An Overview of Romans 9 • Introduction • Because we live in a culture where man-centeredness is prized, it is difficult for us to understand the attribute of God’s sovereign freedom. • This doctrine must be handled carefully, with pastoral care and concern because many believers have taken time to be able to accept and rejoice in this doctrine. • Yet the doctrine of God’s sovereign freedom is not a doctrine to debate but to rejoice over. This is who our God is: absolutely in control of everything! • Psalm 47:2 – For the LORD Most High is to be feared, A great King over all the earth.
God’s Sovereign Freedom Seen in: • Creation • Revelation 4:11 – “Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created.” • Colossians 1:16 – For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created by Him and for Him. • Proverbs 16:4 – The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil. • Administration • Ephesians 1:11 – having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, • Psalm 103:19 – The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all. • Daniel 4:35 - . . . He does according to His will in the host of heaven And among the inhabitants of earth; And no one can ward off His hand Or say to Him, ‘What hast Thou done?’
God’s Sovereign Freedom in Salvation • Biblical Terms • Chosen (Eph. 1:3-4) – • Called (Rom. 8:30) – • Predestined (Eph. 1:5) – • Regeneration (Titus 3:5) -
Romans 9 – An Overview • The Problem: Israel's Unbelief (9:1-5) • The Observation: Not all physical Israel is spiritual Israel(9:6) • The Illustration: Jacob and Esau (9:7-10) • The Explanation: God’s sovereign choice (9:11-12) • The Attribute: God’s sovereign freedom (9:14-17) • The Objection: Is God just? (9:19-21) • Paul’s Answer: "who are you, O man, who answers back to God?" (Rom 9:20)
IV. Conclusion: Review and Reflection • “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (Rom. 9:15) • God the Initiator: Salvation is not that I sought God, but God sought me (1 John 4:19) • God the Savior: it was God’s good pleasure to send Jesus to die for my sins (Isa. 53:10) • God the Regenerator: God sovereignly brought me out of death to life! (Eph. 2:1-4. Titus 3:5). • God the Sustainer: If God started my salvation, then God will finish it (Rom. 8:30, Phil 1:6) • If I understand the sovereign freedom of God, I will have nothing to boast of, and I will have nothing to be afraid of. (Rom 8:28-39).