“probably the best definition of God ever penned by man.”

That is what no less than Charles Hodge said about the following quote:

“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

Where is that definition found?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.4. (“What is God?”)

Not only did Hodge give high praise to that particular question in the above quote (see title of this post), but he went a lot further than that.

If you look at the table of contents of his 3-volume Systematic Theology, you will notice that he actually uses Westminster Shorter Catechism Q.4 as an outline of sorts for nearly his entire treatment of the attributes of God (p.376-439 in particular).  He goes through every word in the definition (i.e. Spirit, infinite, eternal, unchangeable, etc.) one by one and provides a detailed treatment of each one!

Clearly Dr. Hodge held the Shorter Catechism (and all of the Westminster Standards) in very high regard, particularly Q.4.

Take some time to dig into the Shorter Catechism.  You will be glad that you did!

Knowing God

One of my favorite books.  It would definitely be on my “desert island” list (i.e. “If you were on a desert island, and could only have five books, which ones would you take with you?”).

If you have never read this book before, I highly recommend it to you.

If you have read it before, I highly recommend that you read it again . . .and then maybe again.  It’s that good.

If you want to purchase a copy, click here.

For a limited time, a free copy of the audio book is available here.

A.W. Tozer wrote,

“What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (The Knowledge of the Holy, p.9).

That being the case, Packer’s book (and Tozer’s!) will be a tremendous help to us.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).  So the essence of eternal life itself is knowing God, knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.  What, then, could be more important?

In closing, here is a helpful reminder from Packer’s book:

“Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are. As he is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so He must himself be the end of it. We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, p.23).

“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?!?”

Maybe THE classic scene from the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve is the one where Superman rescues Lois Lane for the first time.  You can watch it below. (And you even get to listen to the coolest movie theme song ever – I still get chills from that score!)

So Superman swoops up and scoops up Lois Lane, saving her from a fatal fall from a skyscraper – because that’s just what Superman does.  He tells her not to worry, because he has her.  Her response is classic:

“You’ve got me? Who’s got you?!?”

We laugh at that line, but it reminds me of my wrestling with the self-existence (or aseity) of God when I was a child.  I remember asking someone the question, “Who made God?” or “Where did God come from?”  And it was left to some poor, well-meaning adult in my church at the time to try to explain the self-existence & eternity of God to a boy who had probably not even reached his 10th birthday yet.  It can be a hard concept to get your mind wrapped around even for an adult!

Everything in the entire universe had a beginning, a starting point.  But not God.  He has always been.  There has never been a time when God (Father, Son & Spirit) was not.  The very first verse of the Bible tells us that “In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1).

Psalm 90:2 tells us:

“Before the mountains were brought forth,

or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

In his classic book on the attributes of God called, The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer writes,

“A more positive assertion of selfhood could not be imagined than those words of God to Moses: I AM THAT I AM [Exodus 3:14]. Everything God is, everything that is God, is set forth in that unqualified declaration of independent being” (p.36-7).

The self-existence of God is the first of many things that separates or distinguishes us from God.  It reminds us that He is God, and we are not; He is the Creator, and we are but His creature, the work of His hands.

And for believers in Jesus Christ, there can be no more secure place than in His hands.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)

Not to worry – He has us!

Here’s the movie clip:

There can be only one!

“There can be only one!”

If you instantly recognize that movie line, then you are no doubt an 80’s B-movie connoisseur. That line, of course, comes from the movie, “The Highlander.” It is pretty much known for two things: 1) that one memorable movie line, and 2) sword fights in the strangest times & places.

Here is the basic premise of the movie: there are a number of “immortals” roaming the earth. They cannot die (or even age!) . . . that is, unless they lose their head.  So basically whenever one of them would meet a fellow immortal, there would have to be a fight to the death – a sword fight.  They can’t coexist because (you guessed it), there can be only one.

I know, I know, a Presbyterian quoting a movie involving a Scotsman – how shocking, right? (Maybe I will try to work in a “Braveheart” reference in a post at some point – probably something involving the word “freedom!”)

That brings us to our topic: Monotheism.

Not exactly a popular concept these days, as it doesn’t play well with today’s pluralistic mindset.  It’s one thing to tell people that you believe in God – even the God of the Bible – many will at least appear to tolerate that view. That is, until you explain that the God of the Bible makes the ultimate claim to exclusivity – that He and He alone is the one true and living God.  And there is no other.

There can be only one.

In the 10th chapter of the book of Jeremiah the LORD tells the house of Israel that the idols of the nations are vanity because they are nothing but the works of their own hands.  He says,

“Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” (Jeremiah 10:5)

All other gods are figments of the imaginations of men or the work of their hands.  And yet men put their hope or trust in them?  They can’t even talk.  And they can’t walk, but must be carried by their worshipers!  Nothing but helpless nothings!

But what about the LORD?

Jeremiah 10:10 says,

“But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation.”

The LORD is no scarecrow.  His power and wrath are truly to be feared.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way:

Q.5. Are there more Gods than one? There is but one only, the living and true God.”

If you want the Cliff Notes version, the answer is a resounding “No!”

And the true and living God will tolerate no rival for our worship, fear, and love.  The very first of the 10 Commandments makes that clear:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

No other gods.  There can be only one. And there can be only one because there is only one. So pluralism is not an option for believers.  Accommodation to the pluralistic age that we live in is a violation of the first commandment.  We do not worship one God among many – we worship the one true & living God!

There can be only One!

Good question!

The 3rd question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks what the Bible is primarily or ultimately all about.  It is about “what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.”

The next question is one that everyone should ask, but many people seem to assume that they already know the answer.  What is that question?

“Q.4 What is God?”

That is a really good question.  (Who is this One whom we are to glorify and enjoy forever?) What is the answer?

“God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

That brief definition speaks volumes.

God is not a physical being – He is a Spirit.  No wonder we are not to attempt to worship Him through images (Exodus:20:4-6).

God is infinite.  He is without limits.

God is eternal.  He has always been.  He alone is self-existent.  Where did God come from? Nowhere – He just is!

God is unchangeable. He is perfect and never needs to change.  He is incorruptible and not subject to change in any  way.

And He is all of these things in His very being, His wisdom, His power, His holiness, His justice, His goodness, and His truth.

In other words, while God is know-able because He has revealed Himself in Christ Jesus (John 1:1-18; Hebrews 1:1-3), he is incomprehensible to our finite minds.  We can never know all that there is to know about or of Him.

J.I. Packer wrote, “No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God . . . ” (Knowing God, p.18).  Maybe that is why so many people seem to prefer not to think about God.

Someone recently asked what we are going to do in heaven.  The implication of the question was (more or less) to ask, “Are we going to be bored in heaven?”

Could the God described above ever be “boring”?  It seems almost unthinkable to even ask such a thing.  The one true and living God is the most un-boring subject imaginable.

Look at Isaiah’s vision of the LORD in Isaiah chapter 6.  Needless to say, he wasn’t bored.  He was in awe.  And the mighty seraphim (literally “flaming ones”) in that vision were just as in awe of God as Isaiah was.  And keep in mind that Isaiah’s vision was really just a glimpse of what God is really like.  That glimpse was so powerful that the prophet Isaiah thought he was undone (v.5).  The thresholds of the temple probably were not the only things that were trembling at the voice of the LORD (v.4)!

And what will we be doing forever in heaven?  We will be with the Lord Himself forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18), getting to know Him more and more in all of His infinite nature and attributes.

And there is quite literally no end to that learning or knowledge.

And that will lead us to praise Him – to glorify & to enjoy Him forever!