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Mullins ReligionCh09

Mullins ReligionCh09

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Published by: truthwarrior007 on Feb 25, 2013
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Chapter 9. — The God Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
W
E
have reserved the discussion of the character and attributes of God for thepresent section for the reason that we can best understand the God of our Lord Jesus Christ in the light of the teachings of the gospel and our experience oGod’s gracious power in redemption In other words, we can best understandthe relation between this central doctrine of theology and the realities and factsof religion after we have given a general survey of the facts. In precedingsections we have defined the knowledge arising out of our experience of salvation. We have shown our dependence upon the Scriptures as theauthoritative source of our knowledge of God’s supreme revelation in Christ.We have pointed out the reasons for accepting Christ as that sufficientrevelation of God to us. We have also seen how it is made effectual in us onlythrough the operation of the Holy Spirit. We pass next to the consideration of the infinite and holy God thus made known and thus mediated to us. After thiswe shall be prepared to consider the great themes which deal with God’s workand purpose in Creation, Providence, and Redemption. In this way we areenabled to rise from our most intimate personal relations to God known inexperience, to an understanding of his great plan and purposes for the universe.In this way also God is for us a living reality and not an abstraction of thereason.
1. Definition Of God
We begin with a definition of God, as follows: God is the supreme personalSpirit; perfect in all his attributes; who is the source, support, and end of theuniverse; who guides it according to the wise, righteous, and loving purposerevealed in Jesus Christ; who indwells in all things by his Holy Spirit, seekingever to transform them according to his own will and brink them to the goal of his kingdom. This definition contains the following, elements, necessary to the Christianconception of God:
(1)
what God is in himself;
(2)
in his attributes;
(3)
in his relation to creation;
(4)
in his purpose in Christ;
(5)
in the progressive nature of his kingdom;
(6)
in the kingdom’s relations to the Holy Spirit;
(7)
in the kingdoms consummation and end.
 
By way of contrast we add two very much briefer definitions. Dr. A. H. Strongin his “Systematic Theology” defines
f12
God as “the infinite and perfect Spirit,in whom all things have their source, support; and end.” Dr William N. Clarkedefines
f13
God as “the personal Spirit, perfect y good, who in holy love creates,sustains, and orders all.”Both these definitions are admirable for their conciseness and clearness. If onecares most for brevity in a definition, it would be difficult to improve uponthese. The chief objection to them is that they lack the distinctive Christianelements in the idea of God. Of course the idea of God which these writerspresent in their later discussions is not lacking in the Christian elements. Buttheir definitions imply rather than state them, and a non-Christian might accepteither definition as his own.In general we may remark that there are a number of objections to the verybrief definitions of God, given in many works on theology.
First
they are too often abstract and philosophic rather than warm and livingconceptions of God.
Secondly
, being thus colorless they appeal rather to the intellect than to thefeelings, the moral nature, and the will.
 Thirdly
, they are usually not vitally related to the doctrinal views presented inthe later discussions of their authors. The philosophic conception is set asidefor the New Testament revelation of God when the doctrinal system isdeveloped.
Fourthly
the brief, abstract definition is usually better suited to apologeticsthan to theology. In defending theism against the non-theistic world-views, onemay need only to contend for a bare theism. The conception of God may thusbecome a dim outline with one or two distinctive features. But for the purposesof Christian theology far more is required. In other words, the length of theChristian definition is due to the wealth and fulness of the Christian idea of God.A
Fifth
objection to the brief abstract definitions of God is that they areusually derived from the field of natural rather than that of biblical theology.For the Christian theologian the revelation of God in Christ is primary andfundamental. We come to nature through. Christ, not to Christ through nature.While nature presents very strong evidence for God’s existence it tells us verylittle about God’s character. We attach due importance to all that nature canteach us. But the corner-stone of Christian teaching is God’s revelation inChrist.
 
2. The Christian Definition
We proceed next to develop more fully the contents of the Christian definitionof God. This entire volume is indeed an unfolding of the definition we havegiven. But before we deal with God’s relations with nature and history, andbefore setting forth the meaning of his redemptive purpose and his moralkingdom, it is necessary that we present the Christian teaching as to God’scharacter and attributes.
1.
We note first that God is Spirit. He has not a body. Matter is limited andchangeable. It is made up of parts. God is not compounded of parts. He hasnone of the limitations of matter. In the Scriptures God is often described ashaving hands, feet, arms, eyes, a mouth, and most of the bodily organs. Butthese are anthropomorphic expressions designed to set forth his actions in avivid human way for our apprehension. He is also described as having wings,and in many other ways figures of speech are employed to describe God. Theserepresentations are in no way opposed to the spirituality of God. There are four chief reasons for ascribing spirituality to God.
First
, our own higher nature is spirit, and from it we deduce thespirituality of God;
Secondly
, our spirits have fellowship with God as Spirit, and thus weknow him immediately;
 Thirdly
, Spirit is the highest form of existence known to us, and wenaturally think of God as a spiritual being; and finally, God’sspirituality is clearly and repeatedly taught in Scripture. Jesus said tothe woman at the well,
“God is a Spirit, and they that worship himmust worship him in spirit and in truth.”
2.
We remark next that God is a person. A personal being is one who isintelligent, self-conscious, self-determining, and moral. Perhaps the qualitiesby which we distinguish personality most clearly are self-consciousness andself-determination. Self-consciousness is the consciousness of self. A personalbeing can make himself an object of thought. He knows himself as distinctfrom other persons and other forms of existence. Self-determination is theactivity of the will. Our freedom inheres in the capacity for self-determination.It means that we are determined from within rather than from without. Godpossesses these attributes of personality in the highest possible degree of perfection.
(1)
We show the truth of God’s personality in several ways.

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