The first Sunday of each month of 2018 we’re tackling a selected question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (yes, we’re Baptists, but we get along with them Presbyterians fairly often!). Question 4 asks “What is God?” I had the honor of preaching it…this was about the hardest I’ve had to prepare for a sermon. There are some brain benders in it so watch at your own risk I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
I really appreciated that study, Ben. There are so many instances in Scripture where God’s identity/make-up is given as the answer to our struggles in this life. Isaiah 6 pops up into my mind instantly: “In the year that King Uzziah died…[Oh no! What are we gonna do?!?..I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted… [phew].”
“The only way you can have no fear is if the One who tells you not to fear the future is the same One who has told the future what it will be.”
In your study, have you ever dug into Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5; 32:35 where Yahweh says, “…it never even entered into my mind”? That juxtaposed with the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God?
Did you buy that Bible cover, or did it come that way?
I bought the Bible here.
Yes, there are many times in Scripture that seems to point to God changing his mind, finding something out, entering his mind, relenting, etc. The technical term for that language is anthropopathism, which is when human thought processes are ascribed to God so that we relate to his actions.
We actually use this technique all the time with other subjects. What time did the sun rise this morning? According to my weather app, it was 6:42AM. But did the sun really rise? No, the earth rotated so that the sun became visible upon the horizon at that time. But that doesn’t make the term “sunrise” illegitimate–it’s simply a term that makes the solar system’s actions relatable to us, in our own language.
The same is true with some of the language used to describe God’s actions. But when we think about those Jeremiah passages, to say that something really enters God’s mind for the first time is to say he must discover something. We know from other passages that it can’t mean that.
“Their sin has come up before me.” Where was God? He was spending time with his other universe. You know the good one that never gives him any trouble.
I want to go there!
Is this series going to take the whole year? I looked them up and there are 107 of them.
What is great is I have a series coming up in about four weeks that covers the Nicene Creed. This looks like a real in-depth step over that even.
Being that we’re Baptists, we’re not going to affirm all 107. I’m a 1689 Confession guy myself: https://founders.org/1689-confession/
We’ve selected 12 of the 107 WSC questions and preaching on one per month. There are many more I’d like to do, but we chose some that go along with our study of Romans.
Yeah I could see someone doing them all at once but could be a bit heavy.
A portion of chapter 3 of the 1689 Baptist Confession that consolidates some of the theology in my message above:
- From all eternity God decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself.1 He did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably. Yet God did this in such a way that he is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin.2 This decree does not violate the will of the creature or take away the free working or contingency of second causes. On the contrary, these are established by God’s decree.3 In this decree God’s wisdom is displayed in directing all things, and his power and faithfulness are demonstrated in accomplishing his decree.4
1Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18. 2James 1:13; 1 John 1:5. 3Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11. 4Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3–5.
- God knows everything that could happen under any given conditions.5 However, his decree of anything is not based on foreseeing it in the future or foreseeing that it would occur under such conditions.6
5Acts 15:18. 6Romans 9:11, 13, 16, 18.
Chapter 5 addresses it as well: https://founders.org/1689-confession/chapter-5-divine-providence/
Very nice. That totally could help in this upcoming series on Creed.
Great sermon. I appreciate the passion in your voice. It makes those points very real concerning the magnitude of God.
@BanjoBen you’re an illustration machine! This is something that I wish I was so much better at. (It’s actually on my New Year’s Preaching Resolutions List)
I used your tension like a guitar string illustration this past Sunday. I taught a class on grace that is 1. Great enough to cover any and all sin (Room 5:21-22) and also 2. Teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness (Titus 2:12). So which side is grace on? Tension, Baby!
Except I said the perfect tension on a banjo string makes a beautiful noise…and then I offered my repentance for lying about perfectly tuned banjo strings.
I’m totally with you that the Scriptures can’t contradict themselves…God can’t discover something new while simultaneously knowing all things.
Where I’m at, people are always trying to make the Bible attack itself. Therefore I’m always trying to refine my responses to such alleged contradictions.
Every major truth of God I can think of produces tension in our tiny brains, and every false gospel I can think of tries to relieve that tension in some way.
I had to come back to this post. Genesis 7, “God remembered Noah…” Like he forgot the Roast in the oven. lol This passage coming up this week.
'Bout like Exodus 2:24.
“Oh ya! Those people I left in Egypt 400 years ago. I been wondering what coat pocket I left them in…” Yeah right (Gen 15:13).