Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. Chapter 12 Communicable Attributes of God. Truth Bible Church Sunday School 24 July 2011. Communicable Attributes. How is God like us in His being, and in mental and moral attributes?
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Systematic Theologyby Wayne Grudem Chapter 12 Communicable Attributes of God Truth Bible Church Sunday School 24 July 2011
Communicable Attributes • How is God like us in His being, and in mental and moral attributes? • I would phrase this differently: How are we like God or What are some of the attributes of God that He determine to communicate to us? • The division between the categories of “incommunicable” and “communicable” is not necessarily rigid or absolute • This is a man made distinction that helps us study God and His attributes • Systematic Theology is a tool to help us
Communicable Attributes • In studying the attributes of God it is gaining an understanding of His wholly integrated nature that is most important; not the division of these attributes into categories • This study intends to find the most effective way to present the biblical material in order to study and know God • Five major categories are presented along with the individual attributes that make up each category
Five Major Categories • Attributes Describing God’s Being • Mental Attributes • Moral Attributes • Attributes of Purpose • “Summary” Attributes
Attributes Describing God’s Being • Spirituality • Invisibility
Spirituality • What is God made of? • Flesh and blood? • Is God made of matter at all? • Pure energy? • Or pure thought? • A correct understanding of this attribute of God is vital • A correct and biblical understanding will maintain correct theology and refute false teaching
Spirituality • We must search the Scriptures, study and maintain a biblical understanding of God • Jesus said: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24 • “for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” Phil 3:3 • “Spirit”= pneuma/pneu/ma and ruach/x:Wr • Both mean: breath, spirit, wind
Spirituality • “God is in no way limited to a spatial location” p 186 • Is not limited to any size or dimension, even infinite ones • “It is not part of God but all of God that is in every point of space” – p. 186 • “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” Psalm 139:7-10
Spirituality • Omnipresence vs. • Pantheism: everything is god • Panentheism: god is in everything • God is wholly present everywhere • “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!” – Solomon on dedication of the temple recorded in 1 Kings 8:27
Spirituality • In the first of the Ten Commandments, God forbids thinking of Him in any way that equates Him with anything in His creation: • “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” – Ex 20:4-6 and also read Deut 4:23-24 • We are to completely avoid idolatry of any kind!
Spirituality “… to picture God as existing in a form or mode of being that is like anything else in creation is to think of God in a horribly misleading and dishonoring way.” - p 187 “…we must say that God is spirit. Whatever this means, it is a kind of existence that is unlike anything else in creation.” • This is why God says, “I am that I am” Ex 3:14 • hayah (hyh) or ego eimi (evgw, eimi)
Spirituality • Defined: “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 perceieved by our bodily senses, and is more excellent that any other kind of existence.” p 187-188
This attribute can be considered communicable because all humans possess a spirit that will endure for eternity (either in heaven or in hell) In order to correctly worship God we must do so in “spirit” as Jesus instructed in John 4:24 In our natural or unspiritual state we cannot accept the things of the “Spirit of God” because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14-16) Also read: 1 Cor 14:14 and 1 Cor 6:17 Spirituality
Invisibility • Def: “God’s invisibility means that God’s total essence, all of his spiritual being, will never be able to be seen by us, yet God still shows himself to us through visible, created things.” • This is related to God’s spirituality
Invisibility • “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” - John 1:18 • “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.” - John 6:46 • “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” - 1 Tim 1:17 • Invisible: aoratos /avo,ratoj; invisible, unseen
Invisibility • The previous New Testament verses were written after the events recorded in Exodus 33:11, 20-23: • “11 Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.” • “20 But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ 21 Then the LORD said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.’”
Invisibility • “If we are to think of God, we must think of Him somehow. God understands this and gives us hundreds of different analogies taken from our human lives or from the creative world.” pp 188-189
Invisibility • “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” - Col 1:15 • We see in Scripture occasions when God appears as a man or an angel and described as: “the angel of the LORD”, “the LORD”, “a man”, and “God”, “son of the gods” • Appeared to: Hagar in Gen 16:7, Abram in Gen 18 & 22, Jacob in Gen 32, Moses in the burning bush in Ex 3, Balaam in Num 22, Samson’s parents in Judges 13, in the furnace in Dan 3
Invisibility • These instances from the Old Testament were indeed the appearance of God in a human form and those who saw this being lived! • This could only be the pre-incarnate Jesus, a theophany or more specifically a Christophany, a visible appearance of the invisible God!
Invisibility • We will never see the full Glory of God but we will see Him: • “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God…” - Matt 5:8 • “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads. Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;” - Rev 4:2-5
Invisibility • “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” - Rev 22:3-4 • “but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” - 1 Cor 13:10-12 • “Perhaps the nature of this ‘seeing’ will not be known to us until we reach heaven.” - p 189 • “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” - 2 Cor 3:18
Mental Attributes • Knowledge (or omniscience) • Wisdom • Truthfulness (and faithfulness)
Moral Attributes • Goodness • Love • Mercy • Holiness • Peace • Righteousness • Jealousy • Wrath
Attributes of Purpose • Will • Freedom • Omnipotence
“Summary” Attributes • Perfection • Blessedness • Beauty • Glory