Monday, March 17, 2014

The Sovereignty of God as Displayed in His Character and Nature

The Attributes of God
God constantly purposes to act in sustaining the universe (Ephesians 1.11, Colossians 1.17), and this activity reveals to us his character and nature in several different ways.  God has, in his sovereignty, allowed human beings to have at least some knowledge of who he is and what he is like in a personal manner.  in this sense the extent of God's revelation of his character and nature to human beings is determined by his will and wisdom (Deuteronomy 29.29).  God has revealed these attributes through a variety of ways.  These attributes include, but are not limited to faithfulness (Deuteronomy 7.5), goodness (Psalm 52.1, 106.1, 107.1), love (1 John 4.8), mercy (Exodus 34.6, Deuteronomy 4.31), grace (Romans 3.24), holiness (Leviticus 19.2), righteousness, and justice (Deuteronomy 32.4.  Human beings can and do experience these attributes of God on an a finite and incomplete level.

Considering that God is an infinite being and human beings are not, their ability to grasp the character and nature of God is limited (Isaiah 40.13, Romans 11.34).  God manifests several attributes that human beings are not able to fully comprehend, such as independence.  Unlike humans, who require such things as water and oxygen and even physical contact to exist, God is completely independent (Psalm 121.4, Acts 17.25).  He does not require anything to exist.  God is also eternal in that he has no beginning and no end (Psalm 90.2).  All other created beings (and even matter itself) have a beginning and end.  Therefore our knowledge of God's eternality is limited.  God is furthermore omnipresent int hat he exists everywhere (Psalm 139.8, Jeremiah 23.23-24).  He is not limited by space.  This means that God exists in all locations at one time.  Additionally, God possesses all knowledge in the universe (Psalm 147.4-5, 1 John 3.20).  This knowledge includes all physical and spiritual knowledge about every thing and every one that has ever existed.  God displays his attributes to the created order through his infinite wisdom and omnipotence (Psalm 78.4-7).

The Trinity
God is one God, living and existing in three distinct persons for all eternity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 6.4, Isaiah 46.10).  God the Father exists as the eternal One, and all things flow from his being.  God the Son exists eternally, without having been created (John 1.1, Colossians 1.14-17).  God the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son in an eternal state (1 Corinthians 2.10-11).  While the trinity is not specifically detailed in scripture, the concept is referenced several times throughout the Bible.

The Works of God: Creation
God created the universe and everything in it from nothing (Genesis 1.1).  HIs creative activity is brought about by the power of his word (Genesis 1.3).  God's purpose in creating arose not out of need for fellowship with an external being (such as human beings, as he was content with the fellowship he enjoyed with himself), but for the purpose of bringing glory to himself (Acts 17.25).  The created order exists to glorify God in whatever way it exists (Psalm 19.1).

I believe the biblical account of creation to not be so much a matter of how the universe came to be, but rather an account testifying to its Creator.  This Creator created the earth in perfection, patterning all life around his existence and making all life dependent upon his sustaining power.  That being said, I find the notion of creation having taken place in six literal, 24-hour days to be most natural reading of the creation account.  The pinnacle of God's creation is human kind, being made in the image and likeness of God himself.

The Works of God: Providence
God works to sustain and maintain all things in the universe by his power.  He is not passive.  God is continuously at work in his creation.  Indeed, he is ever watchful over his creation, and the movement of his hand in creation is constantly visible (Isaiah 46.9-10).  There is nothing that exists that is not continually sustained by God's power or outside of his controlling influences (Proverbs 16.33).  God is eternally watchful over the universe, and continually acts within creation to bring about his purposes.  This includes forces of nature (Job 37.6-13, Mark 4.39-41), the personal lives of human beings, the political intentions of rulers and nations (Proverbs 21.1), and even activity at the molecular level (Colossians 1.16-17).  All this God does for the sake of his glory and purposes, yet doing so justly, without ever being culpable for accusations of sin or wickedness.

Because God is intimately involved in the sustaining of the universe, he is therefore omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent (Job 38-40).  In his wisdom, God foreknows and ordains all things that take place in the universe, to the extent described above (Isaiah 14.24).  Furthermore, he possess all knowledge of events in the universe that have taken place, are currently taking place, and will take place.  As the all-powerful God, he is able to work and move within the universe as he pleases.  Nothing in the universe is exempt from feeling the effects of his far-reaching influence.  For God to be able to affect his desired outcome in any circumstance, he must also exist in all places at the same time.  Therefore, God is constantly aware of the needs, desires, and goings on of his creation, and is able to act within it as he pleases (Genesis 16.13).

The Works of God: Redemption
Redemption refers to God's plan of salvation for not only human beings, but for all of creation (Romans 8.22-23).  God is continually at work within creation in order to redeem it - to bring it back to the way that it was first created (Romans 8.19-20).  God's redemption of the pinnacle of this creation - human beings - is God's divine purpose for creation in order to receive glory for his work of redemption. T hat is, God foresaw the fall of humankind into sin - the separation of human beings from relationship with God - and planned to bring about redemption through Christ for the purpose of his own glory (Ephesians 1.4, 1 Peter 1.20).  God gives human beings freedom to determine right from wrong.  This freedom necessitates a plan of redemption on God's part, as human beings have, in their freedom, chosen to put themselves in the place of God and decide right and wrong.  Therefore God, before the foundation of the world, created a means of redemption through the sending of his Son to live a perfect life and die a sinner's death to pay the price required to redeem all those who would believe.

Furthermore, God has a plan of redemption for creation, which is likewise fallen as a result of sin.  God's plan of redemption includes the redemption of those physical realms that have been affected by sin through this same process.  Human beings enter into this plan of redemption for creation by agreeing with God in his desires and purposes for creation.

The Works of God: Angels and Demons
God created an order of spiritual beings called angels to serve him and do his will (Psalm 148.1-5, Colossians 1.16).  The work of angels consists of total obedience to God, minister to the saints, and bringing glory to God.  Other angels, called demons, through deliberate choice, fell from their heavenly position (Revelation 12.7-9).  They now tempt individuals to rebel against God (1 Timothy 4.1, 1 Peter 5.8), but only to the extent that God allows.  All demons are destined for hell because of Christ's victory over sin (Hebrews 2.14, Revelation 20.10).

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