"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Questions on the Godhead - Part 7 - Theology Proper

Pressing on with our look at the UPCI's 60 Questions on the Godhead, I've reached the point of organizing the remaining questions into three groups, Theology Proper, Christology, and Trinitarianism. The Christology questions are by far the largest in number, and may require two posts.

Theology Proper is the study of the Godhead, including existance and attributes. This typically includes matters relating to the Trinity, but for the purposes of this study, many of those questions will be addressed in the last post on Trinitarianism. The questions in this section largely focus on questions about the nature of God.

Question 34. Will God give His glory to another? No. Isaiah 42:8.

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. (Isaiah 42:8 ESV)

The point of this passage is that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, alone is to be worshiped. We are not to turn to idols of wood or stone. This is a restatement of the 1 st and 2nd commandments: "You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." (Exodus 20:3-4 ESV) As with many of the remaining "questions" from the UPCI, there is only a problem if one assumes Trinitarians are polytheists (that Trinitarians believe that there is more than one God).

Trinitarians do not. We are firmly committed to the Scriptural assertion that God is One. But that one God exists eternally as Three Persons. We can understand that this is the Biblical teaching, but there is mystery here. But when we are talking about the infinite, eternal creator of the universe, we should expect mystery.

Question 35. Was there a God formed before Jehovah, or will there be one formed after? No. Isaiah 43:10.

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me." (Isaiah 43:10 ESV)

Question 36. What is one thing that God does not know? Another God. Isaiah 44:8.

"Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any." (Isaiah 44:8 ESV)

These are statements of God's holiness. We frequently think of holiness as moral purity, but the Biblical idea of holiness has more to due with being different and/or set apart. [As Christians, because we have been set apart (been made holy) by God, we should display that difference in part by moral purity.] God is different than anything else in existence. No other real gods exist.

Immediately following this in Isaiah is one of the most stinging indictment's of idolatry in all of Scripture. If you have never looked at it before, be sure to read Isaiah 44:9-20. The culminating verse is v. 19, "No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, 'Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?'" (Isaiah 44:19 ESV)

Question 37. What is one thing that God Cannot do? Lie. Titus 1:2.

in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Titus 1:2 ESV)

That God cannot lie (ESV "never lies") is also established in Hebrews 6:18 (so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. - ESV) where we are told that it is impossible for God to lie. However, is this really all that God cannot do?

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. (ESV) According to this verse, God cannot deny Himself. Why does God never lie? Because He is the truth (John 14:6). He remains faithful because He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9) and therefore cannot be unfaithful. In other words, God will never act contrary to His own character (attributes).

Question 38. How many Gods should we know? Only one. Hosea 13:4.

But I am the Lord your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but me, and besides me there is no savior. (Hosea 13:4 ESV)

As Deuteronomy 7:9 states, God is a God of covenant. He brought Israel out of Egypt to be a holy nation. But the Mosaic covenant was a conditional covenant, in which Israel would be blessed for obedience, but cursed for disobedience. Hosea is proclaiming to Israel that God is going to judge them, and since judgment comes from their only savior, there will be no escape.

Again, the UPCI, I assume, thinks this is a statement against Trinitarianism. But, as I've mentioned several times, Trinitarians embrace the unity of the Godhead.

40. Is it good to think upon the name of the Lord? Yes. Malachi 3:16.

Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed [KJV - thought upon] his name. (Malachi 3:16 ESV)

It is indeed good to think upon the name (character/attributes) of God. The context here is that of deliverance and judgment - Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. "They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him." (Malachi 3:16-18 ESV)

Salvation and deliverance is to those who fear God and think about who He is. One of the reasons Christianity is so weak in the Western world is that we have forgotten God. Our sermons and thoughts are self-help messages about how to live a better life. But we miss out on the real life if we do not think about who God is.

Calvin teaches in the Institutes that true knowledge is knowledge of God and of self. He argues that these to are linked, and interdependent. But that, "it is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until he have previously contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself." Let us strive to know God more truly as He has revealed Himself through the book of nature, but more especially through the book of revelation, the Bible.


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