The Attributes of God (Part Three)

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a NIV).

God is infinite.

However, people are finite; we are very limited beings. A man might have many cars, but he can only drive one at a time. A woman might have many clothes, but she can only wear one outfit at a time. You might have a couple dream vacation destinations and the means to get to them, but you can only be one place at a time. And we could go on and on! To be infinite means to be without limits. When we use this term in reference to being, we say that God has no limits in regard to time (he is eternal), space (he is everywhere present), and power (he is all-powerful). To think of a Being without limits is beyond our comprehension, because as creatures we are limited in each of these ways. Therefore, we must be careful not to allow our limited concepts to restructure God’s revelation. We must accept by faith what he says, though we lack the ability to extend out to his unlimited nature.

Let us begin with the concept of God’s eternality. Our minds are bound to the concept of time. Everything about us is bound to the endless procession of seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc. But God has no personal relation to time, because he created everything (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17). He stands outside of time, but he can and does act inside of it. God uses the word eternal to convey this idea about his being to us (Genesis 21:33; Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:16). To help us grasp what he is like, he uses phrases like “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2) and “who inhabits eternity” (Isaiah 57:15 NKJV). We can also think of God’s “eternal power” (Romans 1:20). God lives forever (Deuteronomy 32:40), and reigns forever (Psalm 9:7; 146:10). His “years never end” (Psalm 102:27), so he is the “eternal King” (Jeremiah 10:10). Consider also Psalm 90:4. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night (NIV).

“When we have enlarged our captions to the utmost, they still utterly fail to comprehend the vast subject. We stretch out thoughts backward and forward; but no beginning or end of God’s existence appears. To relieve our overstretched imagination, and to stop the unavailing effort to comprehend what is incomprehensible, we bring in the negative idea—no beginning, no end. Duration without beginning and without end, becomes the expression of God’s eternity… We dwell in time, a habitation with its various apartments; and we pass from one to another in order; but God’s habitation is undivided eternity. Our lifetime has its parts, childhood, boyhood, manhood, and old age; but God’s life is as indivisible as his essence” (Dagg, Manual of Theology, pp. 64-65).

God is unlike creation, which is subject to time and decay (Hebrews 1:10-12). Humans are bound by time and our life passes quickly (Psalm 39:4-5; James 4:14). His “years” and vitality never become less or diminish in any way.

The consideration of God’s eternal nature means has numerous practical benefits. First, God warns us not to judge him or to become overly curious (Job 38:4). Second, if we know the Lord, we can always count on him to “be there” for us (Psalm 48:14; 90:2), unlike family and friends that pass away. Third, we have a firm foundation for constant trust (Isaiah 26:4). By grace, we have the confident expectation of life with the Lord forever.

Grace and peace, David

The Believer’s Happiness a Reason for Praise (Part Two)

img_4412Psalm 146:1-10

In this psalm, we read of praise to the true and the living God. The Lord’s praise ought always to be on our lips, but sometimes we might feel lethargic or even depressed. The psalmist knew this and spoke to his own soul to stir himself to praise. Next, the spiritually invigorated psalmist gave a warning, a warning against an empty hope. Do not trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save. When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die (146:3-4 HCSB).

He warned against making a fatally wrong investment (146:3). A person’s faculty of trust or confidence is like the money of the soul. Be sure you make a wise and sound investment. People are prone to trust in human power, because we rely on our physical senses. Yet the Bible gives such confidence a bad rating (Jeremiah 17:5-6), and points us to a better place (Psalm 118:8-9). He explained the reason that human power is such a bad risk. It cannot save. Yes, even though the godless person sneers, every humans great need is to be saved or rescued.

The psalmist elucidated the reason for this warning (146:4). Humans are a bad risk, for we are victims of mortality. “His breath goes from his body, and his body goes to the grave. His spirit goes one way, and his body another. High as he stood, the want of a little air brings him down to the ground, and lays him under it.” [Spurgeon] Humans are a bad risk, because our plans do not outlast us. For long years a philosopher is hailed as the greatest thinker of the age. But then he dies. After he is dead, a new intellect appears who ridicules all the ideas of the former great one, who can no longer defend his views. Soon the dead philosopher is only remembered to be dismissed as incorrect. Therefore, who would put his money in a bank that was sure to fail? Who would invest in a company that soon was to go bankrupt? Yet many do this everyday. What a valuable asset we have: life given and sustained by God! Yet how easily we throw it away on the world that passes away. O my friends, especially my young friends, do not act so foolishly!

Eager to ensure the happiness of his readers and the honor of his God, the psalmist points us in the right direction. He gave reasons for the blessedness of the believers (146:5-10) Verse five is his thesis, the point he wants to convey and the truth for which he praises God. How happy is the man who has the living God as his help and hope! This is the last of the 25 or 26 times that this “blessed” formula occurs in the Psalms.

People whose help and hope is the Lord are blessed because…

  • The Lord is the Creator (146:6). The God who could create all things out of nothing is surely able to save and to uphold those who put their confidence in him. This is a sound investment, one with unlimited resources. The God who designed the universe surely understands how it operates. Therefore, we do not need to fear the as-yet-unseen. Investment counselors my make “educated” guesses about the economy of 2017, but no one really knows what will happen.
  • The Lord is the Controller (146:7-9). To continue our analogy, here is a company with a perfect performance record. The Christian has good and substantial reasons for trusting the Lord. First is God’s benevolence (146:7a-b). The Lord does what is good for his creatures (cf. Psalm 145:15-16). “For all grow hungry, man and beast, and it is God who satisfies their hunger, not the independent operations of the law of nature.” [Leupold] God is also able to reverse circumstances (146:7c-8b). God is able to help those in the greatest, most desperate need. The Lord “consoles the bereaved, cheers the defeated, solaces the despondent, comforts the despairing. Let those who are bowed to the ground appeal to him, and he will speedily up raise them.” [Spurgeon] These abilities are clearly seen in the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 7:22; cf. Isaiah 35:5; 61:1). And God’s rule is righteous (146:8c-9). God loves those who do right. This should inspire confidence in God’s people as we live in a world where so many do wrong. He cares for those in poverty, and he opposes the wicked (Proverbs 19:21).
  • The Lord is eternal (146:10; cf. Exodus 15:18; Revelation 11:15). Here is a business that will never close or go bankrupt. Your spiritual money is safe here. In spite of all the bitter malice of the powers of evil, God’s kingdom endures forever. “There will always be a Zion; Zion will always have Jehovah for her King; for her he will always prove himself to be reigning in great power.” [Spurgeon] “They who have such an everlasting kingdom awaiting them in the end can afford to bear trials patiently, not yielding to despair on the way.” [Fausett]

All who have the Lord God as their help and hope listen! We have a great joy, a wonderful privilege, and a delightful responsibility. Let us join together to praise the Lord from the depths of our hearts. Our God is worthy of all our praise! To you without hope, there is good news in the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have his salvation today. He offers himself to you today. Do not refuse him. How happy you would be if Christ saved you today. This then would be your best Thanksgiving weekend ever! You will be surprised by the joy he gives, an inexpressible and glorious joy. Trust the Lord Jesus today!

Grace and peace, David