What We Believe: Our Triune God (part 2)

See Part 1 here.

Our God: Infinity
BFM: God is infinite in holiness and all other perfections.

There are several ways to think about God’s “infinity”: he is infinite in terms of time (eternal), he is infinite in terms of space (omnipresent); and he is infinite in terms of attributes, meaning all things that are true of God are completely true.  When we say he is “infinite in holiness”, we mean that he is perfectly and completely holy. This is true in everything we say about God. There are no flaws in anything about him. His love, wisdom, justice, knowledge, grace, mercy are all completely and totally true, all at the same time, in every way, in every action. This is why they are called “perfections.”

Two of God’s most fundamental perfections are:
1. Holiness. God is holy, the whole Bible tells us over and over. He commands Israel to be holy, because he is holy (Lev 19:2). Bruce Ware explains that God’s attributes of love, grace, and mercy flow from his infinite goodness.
2. Goodness. The Psalmist cries, “You are good and do good” (Ps 119:68). Wayne Grudem says, “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval.”  Ultimately, God has demonstrated his goodness through Jesus and the Gospel, saving from damnation all who believe. Bruce Ware explains that God’s righteousness and justice flow from his holiness.

Our God: Immensity
BFM:
God is all powerful and all knowing; and His perfect knowledge extends to all things, past, present, and future, including the future decisions of His free creatures.

1. God is all powerful (omnipotent). Jeremiahs 32:27 says, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” Likewise, Isaiah 59:1 says, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” These are just two verses that affirm the same truth: God is all-powerful. John Frame says God’s omnipotence refers to “two biblical ideas, closely related to one another: God can do anything he pleases” and that  “nothing is too hard for God.”  Three things to keep in mind in view of God’s omnipotence are:
a. God is free. This is the idea that God “does whatever he pleases” (Ps 115:3, 135:6; Eccl 8:3; Job 23:13). Humans can make “free” choices that, in reality, are constrained to an incredible degree by time and space and ability, not to mention financial, emotional, and health considerations. God is not limited in these ways. He has done, can do, and will do “whatever he pleases.” This is why the Gospel is good news. Because did not have to save us, but he freely chose to.
b. God is sovereign. This is closely related to both omnipotence and freedom. This is the idea that God is the King, the Ruler.
c. God is good. All of the talk about God being all powerful and free and sovereign terrifies the one who does not recognize his goodness. But he is good, and he has proven this in the Gospel.

2. God is all knowing (omniscient).
a. Recently, a heresy called “Open Theism” has arisen in the church, which says that God does not know the future decisions of free creatures (people). This statement in BFM 2000, in part, was drafted to combat this teaching. The Scripture clearly teaches that God knows the future, including the decisions people will make.
b. God also, in a mysterious way, knows what would have been. Matthew 11:21 says, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

Our God: Worthy
BFM: To Him we owe the highest love, reverence, and obedience.

Our response should be:

1. Love. It’s interesting that Moses, after announcing the grand truth of the unity of the one true God in the Shema, immediately adds: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). Jesus said this command from Deuteronomy is the greatest and summary commandment of the Old Testament. The truth of who God is should always lead to love for him, a love that transcends all other competitors (especially the most lovely ones) and leads to likewise loving others.
2. Reverence. All of Old Testament faith is summed up in the injunction, “Fear the Lord.” We should have a healthy trepidation for a God so holy and majestic, yet approach with confidence as his beloved children.
3. Obedience. True love and true reverence will have legs; the person who loves God will obey God; the person who fears God will obey God. God says “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22). Theology should breed doxology, a life of worship (Rom 12:2).

OUR GOD IS THREE
BFM: The eternal triune God reveals Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with distinct personal attributes, but without division of nature, essence, or being.

There is one God. This is the absolute, clear testimony of the Bible. But even in the Old Testament there are hints of plurality within this unity; when we get to the New Testament this plurality becomes explicit. Theologians early in the church began working through this testimony of the Scripture regarding God’s oneness and threeness, and eventually formulated the term “trinity” to describe God’s “tri-unity” (three-and-one-ness). There are a number of facets of the doctrine of the Trinity that are seen Scripture.
1.  There is only one God.
2.  This one God exists as three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
3.  Each Person (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) is God:
a. Equally. Though each Person has a different “role” within the Godhead, all three are “co-equals” as God.
b. Eternally. God has existed as a Trinity for all eternity. “There was not, when the Son (or Spirit) was not,” as the fathers of the church would have said.
c. Distinctly. The Father is not the Son or the Spirit, and so on. There was an early heresy in the early church called Sabellianism or Modalism, which taught that each Person was a really only a different “mask” that God would wear at different times, for different reasons.
d. Indivisibly. Though there are three Persons, there is only one God, “without division of nature, essence, or being.”

The Trinity stretches the limits of our understanding. And it should more than stretch us; it should knock our legs out from under us and put us on our faces in worship of our ineffable God.

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About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
This entry was posted in BFM 2000, PRBC, Theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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