Condensed Theology

A Primer in Systematic Theology

Theology Proper: The Doctrine of God
What does the Bible teach about God?

Where We’re Going
• Ten lectures covering four subjects:
– The existence of God – The attributes of God – God as Trinity – God’s works of creation & providence

The Attributes of God
What Is God Like?

General Categories of the Attributes

General Categories
1. Communicable
– The communicable attributes of God are those characteristics of God that are peculiar to him but which he shares with humanity

2. Incommunicable
– The incommunicable attributes of God are those characteristics of God that are peculiar to him but which he does not share with humanity

The Incommunicable Attributes of God
Qualities of God Peculiar to Himself that He Does Not Share with Us

Omnipresence
God is everywhere

Omnipresence
• God is present everywhere; he is not confined to any spatial location

Direct Biblical Assertions of the Omnipresence of God

Direct Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• Ps 139:7-10: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Direct Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• 1 Kgs 8:27: But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! • Prov 15:3: The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good.

Direct Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• Jer 23:23-24: "Am I a God who is near," declares the LORD, "And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places So I do not see him?" declares the LORD. "Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?" declares the LORD. • Ezek 8:12: Then He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, each man in the room of his carved images? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us; the LORD has forsaken the land.'"

Direct Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• Acts 7:48: However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says… • Acts 17:27-28: …that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we also are His children.'

Indirect Biblical Assertions of the Omnipresence of God

Indirect Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• Amos 9:2: Though they dig into Sheol, From there will My hand take them; And though they ascend to heaven, From there will I bring them down. Though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them. And though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword that it slay them, And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good.

Indirect Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• If God is the creator, then it follows that he transcends what he has made
– Gen 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Deut 10:14: Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. (God made “space”).

Indirect Assertions of God’s Omnipresence
• If God is the creator, then it follows that he transcends what he has made
– Isa 66:1-2a: Thus says the LORD, "Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being," declares the LORD.

Implications of the Omnipresence of God

Implications of God’s Omnipresence
• God’s movements from place to place are not meant to be understood literally • All of God is present everywhere

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• Transcendent Presence • What I am calling God’s transcendent presence is what we have seen so far—God is everywhere. • Immanent Presence • What I am calling God’s immanent presence reflects the biblical idea that the Lord’s personal interactions with individuals and groups may be understood as him being either “present” or “absent.”

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • The dominant idea in Scripture with reference to God’s presence and absence is that God is “present” when he blesses and “absent” when he curses

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • Present to bless
– 2 Cor 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. – John 14:23: Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” – Jas 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • Present to bless
– Ps 16:11: You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. – Rev 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • Absent to curse
– Isa 59:2: But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. – Prov 15:29: The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • Absent to curse
– 2 Thess 1:9-10: These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed.

Omnipresence Implication 1: God’s Spatial Movements Not Literal
• God’s immanent presence • We have barely scratched the surface with texts from the Bible that conceive of God’s “presence” as positive and his “absence” as negative. • The point is that God’s spatial movements are used to suggest relational realities • In addition, God performs different acts in different places (e.g., heaven and hell)

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• The last point regarding God’s immanent presence, especially as it relates to his behavior from place to place, should not be construed to mean that part of God is in one place while part of God is in another. • God has no parts—he is a spirit and does not have a body like ours • Indeed, were he not a spirit, he would not be able to be omnipresent

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• Thus, very closely related to God’s attribute of omniscience are the attributes of God’s spirituality and God’s simplicity.

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• God’s simplicity refers to his quality of being indivisible. His essence is part-less. • Notice that God’s simplicity, his “partlessness,” is inferred from his omnipresence. • The logic moves like this
– God is omnipresent (i.e., he cannot be confined to space) – For something to have a “part” it requires space – Therefore God has no parts

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• God’s spirituality refers to his quality of not being made of any substance (“God is spirit” [John 4:24]). • Therefore God has no size or dimensions, even limitless ones. He is not infinitely large, because the predication “large” is a spatial one.

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• In addition, he is not a spirit in the same sense that our bodies are animated by our spirits. • Our spirits can be confined; God in his essence, cannot be confined to any spatial location. • God is a spirit, and because he is a spirit he is not only nowhere, but he is capable of being everywhere.

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• Here is an excellent definition of God’s spirituality:
– “…no property of matter may be ascribed to him. He has no extension in space, no weight, no mass, no bulk, no parts, no form, no taste, no smell. He is invisible…and being one in essence and without parts, is indivisible.”
• Robert L Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Louisville: Thomas Nelson, 1996), 167.

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• So related to God’s omnipresence are God’s spirituality and his simplicity
– God is a spirit; therefore he cannot be confined to space. Thus his spirituality is what allows for his omnipresence. – God is a spirit; therefore he is simple (he has no parts). And it is his simplicity that allows for all of him to be present in his omnipresence.

Omnipresence Implication 2: All of God Is Present Everywhere
• Thus all of God is present everywhere • Notice carefully Ps 139:7-10:
– Ps 139:7-10: Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Omnipresence
• God is present everywhere; he is not confined to any spatial location

Invisibility
God cannot be seen

Invisibility
• God’s total essence cannot be seen by anyone

Direct Biblical Assertions of the Invisibility of God

Direct Assertions of God’s Invisibility
• John 1:18: No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. • John 5:37: And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. • John 6:46: Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.

Direct Assertions of God’s Invisibility
• 1 Tim 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. • 1 Tim 6:16: who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. • 1 John 4:12: No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.

Qualifying the Invisibility of God

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• Exod 33:11, 21-23: Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. 21 Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.“ • If God is invisible, how can this be?

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• God manifests himself through visible created things, called theophanies—God appearances
– The burning bush – The angel of the Lord – The pillar of cloud and fire – The Lord’s “back” – Et cetera…

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• The ultimate theophany is the Lord Jesus Christ
– John 1:18: No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. – John 14:9: Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father '?”

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• The ultimate theophany is the Lord Jesus Christ
– Col 1:15: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. – Heb 1:3: And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• Though God’s essence is such that he is invisible, we will in some sense see him in heaven.
– Matt 5:8: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. – 1 Cor 13:12: For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. [Notice here the clear allusion to Moses’ experience of fellowship with the Lord].

Qualifying God’s Invisibility
• Though God’s essence is such that he is invisible, we will in some sense see him in heaven.
– Rev 22:3-4: There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.

Invisibility
• God’s total essence cannot be seen by anyone

Independence
God is self-existent

Independence
• Sometimes called his aseity (from the Latin a se, meaning “from himself”), God’s independence is his utter self-sufficiency. He has no needs.

Direct Biblical Assertions of the Independence of God

Direct Assertions of God’s Independence
• Exod 3:14: God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" • Acts 17:24-25: The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

Indirect Biblical Assertions of the Independence of God

Indirect Assertions of God’s Independence
• Job 41:11: Who has given to Me that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine. • Ps 50:10-12: For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.

Indirect Assertions of God’s Independence
• Job 22:2: Can a vigorous man be of use to God, Or a wise man be useful to himself? • Rom 11:35-36: Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Indirect Assertions of God’s Independence
• The Bible correlates God’s position as creator with his independence • The logic runs like this: Since God created all things out of nothing, he himself is uncreated, self-existent.
– Acts 17:25: nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.

Indirect Assertions of God’s Independence
• Since God created all things out of nothing, he himself is uncreated, selfexistent.
– John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Indirect Assertions of God’s Independence
• Since God created all things out of nothing, he himself is uncreated, self-existent.
– 1 Cor 8:6: …yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. – Ps 90:2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Independence
• Sometimes called his aseity (from the Latin a se, meaning “from himself”), God’s independence is his utter self-sufficiency. He has no needs.

Conclusion
• For purposes of teaching, we have divided the attributes of God into two categories: communicable and incommunicable This lecture addressed five of God’s incommunicable attributes: His omnipresence, spirituality, simplicity, invisibility, and independence.

Conclusion
• God’s omnipresence refers to his quality of being present everywhere. • God’s spirituality refers to his quality of being non-corporeal and incapable of being confined to space • God’s simplicity refers to his quality of unity or indivisibility (he has no parts) • God’s invisibility refers to his quality of being unable to be seen • God’s independence refers to his quality of being self-sufficient and self-existent

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