God is a Spirit, not having a physical body:
Therefore, Christianity is a religion of the ear, not of the eye; hence, no graven images or visual representations of God are allowed in worship (Ex. 20:4). (245)
Any worship we offer Him must be characterized by these two traits: (1) Worship must be consistent with God’s being, character and perfections, i.e. “in spirit;” and (2) Worship must be regulated by God’s Word, i.e., “in truth.” (245)
God is perpetually Self-knowing, Self-contemplating and Self-communing, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (246)
Having created man in His image, He has given him consciousness, self-consciousness and God-consciousness. (246)
[W]e live in a personal environment, conducive to life and meaning, not an environment filled with horror and controlled by irrational, terrifying evil. (246)
We must learn to understand ourselves in terms of this living, personal God, and not in terms of some empty, chaotic void around us. (246)
Being “Spirit,” God is uncreated, immaterial and non-physical. He does not have a body like human beings. (247)
He may not be worshipped by pictures, images, or by any other physical, visible
representation (Deut. 4:15f). (247)
At this point, it might be asked: Then, how are we to conceive God, if not by a visible or intellectual form? The answer is this: we are to conceive God, under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, as He has revealed Himself in the Bible—in His perfections, His works, and supremely in His Son, Jesus Christ, Who is “the exposition of God” (John 1:18). (247)
His “face” denotes His sight and His presence before which we live (Gen. 19:13). His “eyes” signify His omniscience and all-seeing providence (Prov. 15:3). His “ears” are His readiness to hear and answer prayer (Ps. 34:15). His “nose” is His
acceptance of the persons and worship of His people in Christ (Gen. 8:21). His “mouth” is His expressed commands and promises (Jer. 3:16). His “arms” and “hands” are His power and its execution (Ps. 102:27). His “wings” signify His protection of us (Ps. 91:4). It is obvious that none of these phrases should be taken as a literal and physical description of God, although they are to be taken as really true of Him. (248)
There is no distinction between His being and His perfections, such as His goodness, justice, holiness and truth. Every Divine perfection is identical with God’s being. He is what He has. (248)
In His Being, glory, blessedness and perfection, God is boundless, limitless and immeasurable. In everything God is, He is a God of absolute perfection. His understanding is infinite—it reaches to and comprehends everything. His power is infinite—He is full of it, the earth is full of it, yet it still abounds profusely throughout the future. His justice and holiness are infinite—none is as holy and as
just as He. He is infinitely perfect. (249)
Because God is infinite in His perfections, He is all-glorious. The word for glory in
the Old Testament, kabod, signifies the splendor and brightness of appearance. In the New Testament the word for glory, doxa, signifies the recognition to which a person is entitled. (250)
When God is called “blessed,” three perfections are ascribed to Him. (1) God is absolutely perfect, “for blessedness is the property of every being that is perfect or
complete: that has life, and is free from disturbance, whether inwardly or outwardly.”13 (2) God knows fully and takes great pleasure in His own absolute perfection. He is fully conscious of His infinite glory and He is “happy” in it. (3) God delights in everything He is. He rests in Himself, takes pleasure in Himself, and is perfectly satisfied in His all-sufficient self. 13. Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 248. (250-251)
God is totally and absolutely perfect. He is infinitely exalted above all shortcomings and limitations. (251)
Jehovah is self-sufficient, self-contained, and independent of His creation, while causing His creation to be utterly dependent upon Him. He stands in need of nothing He has made. He possesses in Himself all that is necessary for His glorious self-existence. (252)
Without this perfection of self-sufficiency, God would not be God, for He would be helplessly dependent upon the energies, processes and goodwill of man and the universe. (252)
Unbelieving man’s concept of God is quite the contrary. Rather than a God-centered God, he worships a man-centered god. Such a god is one who needs man in order to be truly fulfilled...But a man-centered god is no God. (253)
In making and executing His plans, God seeks no one’s counsel, assistance or advice. Man in no way supplies any ingredient to the definition of the plans of God; nor does man contribute anything to the working out of those plans.
Creation and providence are derived from God’s sovereign will...
World government is derived from God’s sovereign will...
Christ’s suffering resulted from the will of God...
Election and reprobation result from the will of God...
Regeneration, (the new birth), results from the will of God...
Sanctification results from the will of God...
The Christian’s suffering and affliction result from the will of God...
Our lives and destinies are determined by the will of God...
The smallest and least significant things result from the will of God...
Even things that appear to be “chance-happenings” result from the will of God...(254-255)
In speaking of God’s will, we must distinguish two aspects of His will: (1) God’s revealed will in the Bible, which prescribes what we should do (Matt. 7:21; 12:50; John 4:34; 7:17; Rom 12:2), and (2) God’s secret will, which is what He desires to do (Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:17, 25, 32, 35; Rom. 9:18f.; Eph. 1:5, 9, 11; Rev. 11). (255)
Just as a father forbids his child to touch a sharp knife though he himself uses it without injury or damage, so God forbids us to sin though he himself is able to use and does use sin as a means of self-glorification. The usual objection advanced
against the decretive (secret) will [i.e., what He has decreed but not revealed] and the perceptive (revealed) will [i.e., what He has revealed in the Bible] namely, that they are in conflict with each other, is not justifiable, for: the preceptive will is really not God’s will but his precept for our conduct; by means of it God does not reveal to us what he will do; it is not a law for his conduct; but it tells us what we must do; it is a rule for our conduct, Deut. 29:29… God’s revealed will instead of being opposed to the secret will is the means whereby the latter is carried out: by means of warnings and admonitions, prohibitions and threatenings, conditions and commandments, God’s counsel is accomplished; while because of the decretive will man, when he transgresses God’s commandment, does not for a moment become independent of God but in the very act of transgressing serves God’s
counsel, and becomes an instrument (however unwillingly) of God’s glory. 18
18. Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 240–241. (255-256)
God is infinite in reference to time...God has no beginning of life or end of days. He has no succession of thought or change of state. It is impossible for Him to age or decay. He is neither young nor old. (257)
To speak of time is to speak of motion, change, process, limits, finiteness, and decay. Time is the measure of created reality, creaturely existence. (257)
God is unchangeable in His being, thoughts, desires, and in all His perfections. God is, at one and the same time, changeless and the author of all change in His creation...His knowledge, thoughts, plans, character and will remain forever the same. (258)
This means no change in his [God’s] attributes and character, but only in his manner of treating men. ‘Repentance in God is not a change of will, but a will to change.’ If God had treated the Ninevites after their repentance, as he had threatened to treat them before their repentance, this would have proved him to be mutable [changeable]. It would have showed him to be at one time displeased with impenitence, and at another with penitence.… It is one thing for God to will a change in created things external to himself, and another thing for him to change in his own nature and character. God can will a change in the affairs of men; such as the abrogation of the Levitical priesthood and ceremonial; and yet his own will remain immutable, because He had from eternity willed and decreed the change. In like manner, promises and threatenings that are made conditionally, and suppose a change in man, imply no change in the essence or attributes of God… Jer. 18:7–0.” 22. W.G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3 vols. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), 1:352–353. (258-259)
God is incomprehensible...
Although God can be known truly, He cannot be known exhaustively or completely by us. And being the God He is, He cannot be reached by human reason or experience unaided by divine revelation and divine illumination. To be known, He must reveal Himself to His creatures. (260)
Modern liberal theology has substituted the idea of God’s unknowability for His incomprehensibility, advancing the falsehood that God cannot be known at all by man, that He cannot reveal Himself to us, because He is the “Wholly Other,” and because we live in a “closed universe,” i.e., closed to any revelation from God. (260)
God is incomprehensible. Because He is infinitely glorious, He is incapable of being comprehensibly understood by finite human beings. He is inconceivable, i.e., incapable of being reached by human reason unaided by divine revelation. He is unfathomable, i.e., no one can plumb the depths of His being and knowledge. But
by His own self-revelation, He is knowable. He may be known personally and truly by Christians in Christ by the Holy Spirit through the Bible. (260-261)
Lord willing, next week, I shall pick up at God's omnipresence...