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Systematic Theology: The Nature of God

November 5, 2016 Pastor: Don Green Series: Systematic Theology

Topic: Special Sermons

70S-004

We're back to resume our study of systematic theology this morning and I'm glad that you all can join us on a brisk Saturday morning. Last time in our first session, we studied the basis of authority and scriptural revelation and that's the starting point; you have to know what your basis, what your authority is for understanding God's revelation. And now what we come to this morning is what does that revelation tell us about God. Now that you've established that you've got revelation in place, the question becomes what does it say to us about God and what he is like and that's what we're going to study today. And there is a really key verse that I want you to turn to to kind of set the key for things in Psalms, Psalm 145. I think this is a really important place to begin in your study of God because it sets the expectations in a way that prepares your mind for everything else that follows. Psalm 145:3 says,

3 Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

The greatness of God cannot be explored, it cannot be exhausted, it cannot be defined in ways that are stated and then there is nothing else to be said. It is always a matter of infinite study. So what that means is that when you come – oh, this is so very important, this is so important – it means that when you come to study the character of God, you should come with an expectation that there are going to be things that transcend your understanding, that go beyond what you can fully put your mind around and what you can fully grasp because his greatness is unsearchable; and what that means is that when we come to study the character of God, we should come and we should expect to find things that are different than what we are accustomed to because his greatness is beyond us and, secondly, we should come and realize that we cannot judge the character of God by everything that is reasonable according to the human mind. It's always going to be consistent and understandable according to Scripture but there are going to be those things that just go beyond us and that is the place where we begin.

We're not going to look at the doctrine of the Trinity here this morning, we'll save that for later in a few weeks, but when it comes to the Trinity, people say, "Well, that's not reasonable. That doesn't make sense to me." And the whole point of introducing the subject this way is to say, "But, you see, that's the wrong standard." Your mind cannot be the final standard of things. We have to go to God's word and see what it says and let God's word lead us to what God's character is rather than pre-imposing what's going to be reasonable to us. That just leads us into idolatry and makes God after our own image. So, God's greatness is unsearchable. We expect to find things that transcend our understanding when we come to him and that's certainly going to be the case this morning.

This morning's topic I've titled "The Nature of God." The nature of God is the subject for this first session and you'll see what I mean by that as we go along. When you study the nature of God, when you study the being of God in other words, you study his attributes. His attributes are, that's a way of referring to what his characteristics are, what is God like. In the language of Berkhof, whose book we're using, God's essence has "infinite perfections" by which we can know him. God's attributes are the infinite perfections of his essence. So God is an infinite being and whatever he is like is perfect and it is infinitely perfect. Everything about God is infinitely perfect and when we study his attributes, we are studying his infinite perfections and our human minds benefit when we have a way to kind of classify and organize things so that we can understand them and think through them and that's what we're going to do here this morning.

Many theologians will distinguish God's attributes between those attributes which are incommunicable and those which are communicable. Those are five dollar terms that I'll try to oversimplify. When we talk about God's incommunicable and his communicable attributes, we're simply trying to classify his characteristics for analytical purposes so that we can have categories of thought to think systematically about God in a way that makes sense. And we use these terms, they are imperfect terms, a lot of theologians, some theologians don't even like them and reject the use of them altogether; Robert Raymond is a Reformed theologian who does not like to use these classifications and we respect that but we're just using them here for basic analysis. God's incommunicable attributes are those attributes which are not shared, generally speaking, with his creation or with man. They are things that belong uniquely to him alone and therefore they cannot be communicated to someone else; they cannot be shared, communicated in the sense of sharing, not in the sense of being spoken about. His communicable attributes are those which are in part, in measure, shared by humanity.

So let me illustrate. God's incommunicable attributes, for example, would include his infinity. You and I are finite beings. God is infinite. He has no limits. He has no bounds and therefore that infinity is not shared with us. We are confined to space and time. God is not like that. His communicable attributes would be, for example for illustration, like in his truth or in his love. These are characteristics which can be modeled in humanity; that we can be truthful, we can be loving, and those moral characteristics are something that can be replicated in human character, let's say. So infinity, incommunicable attribute. Love and truth are communicable attributes. That's kind of the idea here.

And in this session, I am excited about this, in this session we are going to focus on God's incommunicable attributes, the very nature of God, and what we're going to find is this. Some of these things, I've taught on most of these things, some of them are things that I've never taught on before just because I've never done a thorough study of the attributes of God, I've never taught a series that deals with it in this way, but here's what we're going to find: you may find things in what we discuss here today that you've never heard or thought about and it's going to strain your thinking maybe for some of you, and for a select few of you, it may even give you a headache. That's okay. That's what happens when we study the attributes of God. We're doing something where we're pouring infinity into your finite mind and just like a cup overflows and spills out, your finite mind expands to a point and you say, "I realize that I'm dealing with things that are beyond me." Don't resist that and don't turn away from it, just recognize, "Ah, the way that this is stretching my mind is giving me a sense of the unsearchable greatness of God as I study these things." That headache is a reflection of the unsearchable greatness of God.

Now, the way that this works out with these attributes and the way that we are going to teach them here this morning is this: first of all, what we're saying here we intend to align perfectly with traditional classic Reformed theology and we want to align ourselves with the men that have gone before us. We're not trying to be new or creative here in what we say. God's attributes have been well defined by good men and we stand on their shoulders as we study here together today and so we want to be mindful of that. The way that we have put this together, the way that we're going to study these things at the same time, I want it to be something that benefits you in a way that is easy for you to recall; as we're studying these great attributes of God, to do it in a way that you are able to remember it 1, 2, 3, 4, in a way that comes to mind very quickly. So I'm kind of combining traditional theology here and trying to do it in a way that allows easy recall for your spiritual growth. That's the idea. That's the ultimate goal here and so some things are simplified and there we go.

So, what we're going to look at as we consider the nature of God, we're going to look at four of his incommunicable attributes here today in this session and each one of them begins with the letter "I." I like doing it this way because you can just remember this and then you can rehearse it and soon your heart is drawn into worship as you remember these things. Let me give you the four as we begin and then we will unpack them as we go along with Scripture. First of all, God is invisible. God is invisible. That's point 1. Secondly, God is independent. God is independent. So God is invisible, God is independent, thirdly, God is infinite. God is infinite. And fourthly, God is immutable. God is immutable. He is invisible, he is independent, he is infinite and he is immutable, all of these things in a way that are not true of us. Here's the thing: we're looking at that which uniquely characterizes God, that God uniquely is in a way that we are not like him.

You know, as we study these things, one of the key things that I would want you to take away from this session in particular is this, this one simple point leads into all four: God is not like you. You are not like God. He is qualitatively different than you are. As one theologian put it in some of my reading illustrating it like this: God is more different than you, than the ocean is to a glass of water. God is more different than you, than the sun is from a candle. God is distinct. He is in a separate realm. He is in a category all of his own. He is unique and exalted and lofty above every conceivable human realm and so when we come to God, when we come to study his character, we must realize and start from the premise that we are dealing with someone who is completely different from us as we look at these incommunicable attributes.

So let's dive into them. I'm going to keep this to 50 minutes in keeping with what we're trying to do with this series. First of all, let's look at the first point: God is invisible. God is invisible and in this point, what I'm intending to communicate here is that God is spirit. God is an immaterial being. He has no substance which we see. He is not made up of physical matter. He is a purely immaterial being. Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:24,

24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

That's a familiar text, one of the standard texts when you're considering this.

Look also in your Bibles in 1 Timothy as we open God's word together now. 1 Timothy 1:17 makes this very very clear. Paul gives this doxology after declaring himself to have been the chief of sinners that Christ came into the world to save and giving praise to Christ for his patience for those who would believe in him for eternal life. He says in verse 17, here gathering up so much of the incommunicable attributes of God,

17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

He is invisible. He is immortal. He is not like us. And if you look over at chapter 6, verse 15 of that same book, you can see that Paul is, this is on his mind from beginning to end. Early on in the book he speaks about this nature of God, at the end of the book he is concluding on this, and everything in between is flowing from this great nature of God. So let's begin at verse 14, actually let's go back to verse 13. He says,

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time--He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,

Notice there, he is the only Sovereign. He is unique. He is different. He is in a category all by himself that no one else shares. Verse 16,

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.

And so when we think about God, we need to realize that we're thinking about someone who is different, who is invisible, that we're approaching someone who cannot be seen and so we receive these things on faith. God has revealed himself as a spirit, as an invisible spirit of such lofty immaterial status that no one can see him.

Now, as you go along, as you read especially in the Old Testament, you might find certain texts of Scripture that seem to contradict that assertion about the invisibility of God, that he is an immaterial spirit. So Scripture speaks of God having feet in Exodus 24. Hands in Joshua 4. It speaks of his mouth in Exodus 12. How are we to understand these things? Well, those texts are using a literary device called an anthropomorphism. That's a very long five dollar word. An anthropomorphism. The Greek word "anthropos" means "man," the Greek word "morphe" means "form." It speaks of God in the form of a man. Now, it's not suggesting that God literally has a mouth, that God literally has feet that can be seen, rather what the writers of Scripture are doing is this, remember something important that we started out with, remember that we said that God is so totally distinct from us, he has a different kind of essence, he exists in a realm that we cannot penetrate and so the question is how are we going to understand someone who is utterly other to us? Well, in the wisdom of God, in the condescension of God, in the kindness of God, he speaks about himself in a way that uses human terms to describe a certain aspect of what he's doing. It speaks about his mouth referring to his revelatory activity, the way in which he communicates. We use our mouths to communicate, God has no literal mouth but he communicates and therefore we can understand that. We use our feet to move and God moves, as it were; he acts but not with literal body parts. But if the writers of Scripture use feet and mouths, we have a faint idea that helps us to understand. So Scripture is using metaphor, it is using human features to help us understand God when that happens but don't let a literary device cause you to think wrongly. God is an invisible spirit and so Scriptures are using this to help us understand God without saying that he literally has physical features like this. He's invisible, those things can't be seen and so God, we shouldn't think about God as a glorified version of a Greek God, of a Greek Hercules or something like that with big muscles throwing lightning bolts down on the earth. It's not like that. He is a spirit. He is invisible.

Now, as we say that, one other aspect of this that we're including under the umbrella that God is invisible, we want to emphasize that God is also a personal being. He's a personal spirit. God is not a force like gravity or he's not the laws of physics or electricity or energy or anything like that. God – oh, what can we say? God is an intelligent, seeing, hearing, moral being who knows and interacts with his creation. And so God is an invisible spirit and yet he knows what's happening, he hears us when we pray, he has a mind, an intelligent rational mind, and ultimately he has revealed himself in the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfect revelation of God in Christ. We see, Jesus said that, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father," and so as Christ moves about on the earth seeing, hearing, interacting, displaying his power, you're seeing what God is like. So God is invisible and yet that does not mean that he is simply a force, he is a personal spirit.

Now, let me say this. We're covering four points in 50 minutes. I can't tell you how, it's a blessed privilege to be able to teach these things. No man is worthy to speak of the character of God and that's certainly true of your speaker here this morning but let me just say this: we're talking about great things that cannot be given full justice in 10 or 15 minutes as we go along. We could do a series of messages on the invisibility of God, God being a spirit, and not even begin to scratch the surface of what we're doing and so we realize that as we're speaking on these things, we're giving little brief summaries, we're given just a couple of texts to think about but it's just in the nature of things that we have to start somewhere and so that's what we're doing and we're trying to gather this up in a way that makes sense.

Now, at the end of this session, I'm going to talk about the Lord Jesus Christ and how he interacts with these attributes and how these attributes play into our understanding that in Christ we see God in human flesh. I'm going to address that at the end so if you have questions like that, you know, let's hold them off; it's easier to deal with them all at once at the end and so that's how we're going to do it. God is invisible by which we mean he is a personal spirit. That's our first point here this morning. Now, secondly: God is independent. God is independent and in this we jump into the ocean and plumb depths that you never reach the bottom of. God is independent. We mean this in two ways. First of all, God is independent in the sense that he is self-existent. He is self-existent and what we mean by self-existence is this: God had no beginning. Nothing gave rise to God. There is no source behind God which explains his being. There is no origin to God. Just as he is timeless and infinite going into eternity future, so in like manner he is infinite and has always been. God revealed himself in Exodus 3:14 to Moses saying,

14 I AM WHO I AM.

There are no categories that we can place upon him.

Look at John 5:26 and as you are turning there, let me just say this, that in this session really I'm just trying to start your thinking to acquaint you with things that are really critical about the nature of God, realizing that we're not going to exhaust the subject in anything that we say, just to get you started. In John 5:26, Jesus said,

26 just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;

The principle of life, the principle of God's being, is internal to him. It has always been a part of his nature. No one gave it to him. It didn't start anywhere, and this is a place where we have no categories to compare it to. This is something strictly incommunicable. Those of you who are parents have perhaps dealt with this stunning question or in past times maybe you've taught children, sometimes children will ask, "Where did God come from?" And you're left with saying, "It's time for a snack." And you try to change the subject because you don't know how to answer that question. Well, here's the answer to the question: God did not come from anywhere. God did not come from anyone. And that question which is a well-intentioned question on the lips of a young child is an opportunity for you to say and to understand this, is that that's a perfectly logical question but you need to understand something: God is different and so we don't think about God like we think about everything else. We can say that this car came from Detroit or that you came from your mommy and daddy or that the mountains were created by God, but we're speaking in a creaturely realm when it comes to God. We are in a different realm and we have to think differently about him. Nothing caused God, he simply and eternally is. So when we talk about God being independent, there is no source to him. He had no beginning. He'll have no end. He cannot die, which we'll talk about in a couple of weeks in a different session from a different perspective. But God exists by virtue of himself. His being was not conferred upon him by a prior being or by a greater being.

Now, secondly, God is independent in the sense that he has no need. God does not need anything. Look over at Acts 17 with me, Acts 17:24 and 25. The Apostle Paul is speaking to the Greeks on Mars Hill and in their ignorance he is making the true God known to them. In verse 24,

24 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; 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;

The existence of life as we know it, as we see it, is derivative from the one who has life in himself. God does not need to be fed by human hands. He does not need contributions from human hands to continue his existence. In that way, you and I are completely unlike him. You and I must have food and water to sustain our physical existence. We need rest in order to continue going. God is not like that. He is completely separate from that. He does not need to be fed. He does not need outside contribution. He has an energy all of his own that has always existed, that always will and is completely sufficient for him to be who he is without diminishment. So God is independent in the sense that he has no need.

Look over at Romans 11, we'll look at this verse, this passage twice today perhaps in Romans 11:33. Once again, when Scripture writers contemplate God, they realize that they have reached the limits of human language. In verse 33, the Apostle Paul after explaining the great doctrine of salvation from sin to justification through sanctification to the future of Israel, concludes it all in verse 33 saying,

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.

Nobody can say they gave anything to God. Nobody can say they gave him something that he did not already have. Scripture says that even the cattle on a thousand hills belong to him. He owns all of creation and so anything that we say we are giving to God is something that he first gave to us. Nobody gives advice to God. He doesn't need our counsel to determine what is wise to do. He is completely independent of your actions, of your thoughts. He does not need our advice in order to govern the universe with wisdom. He is independent of all of that and the technical term that is sometimes used, the theological term used to describe his independence is a term called his aseity, simply meaning that God is self-existent, he is self-sustaining, no one gave life to him, no one can take his life away from him. No one is like him. He is independent in a way that has no mirror to us. So God is invisible and God is independent.

Now, thirdly, let's consider this as we move all too quickly along: God is infinite. God is infinite. God has no boundaries. God has no limits. That's what we mean by the fact that he is infinite, and this can be seen in a couple of different ways. With respect to time, God had no beginning and will have no end. Look at Psalm 90. In Psalm 90:1, we've studied this Psalm a couple of times even at Truth Community, a Psalm of Moses, in version 1, it says,

1 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

He existed before time began. He existed before creation. He has no beginning, he'll have no end. He is so infinite, he is so vast, he is so immense that he cannot be contained within the bounds of time. How are you and I supposed to understand something like that? That's the only thing we know. We only know the realm of time in our human existence. How can we burst through the bounds of time to understand the infinity of God as a finite time-bound creature and a sinful one at that? As you study these things, as you consider the implications of what Scripture says about God, we come back to this point that we are dealing with someone other than us, someone different than us.

And if you'll indulge a brief tangent for just a moment, do you see that this affects, this has profound implications for our philosophy of ministry, for what a church should do and be? When churches try to make God common by organizing all that is said and all that is done simply around human need and making it something that is appealing to human beings, what they do often without thinking about it is they put man at the center and decide that God is going to relate to them from the center of man's existence and what man wants. Do you understand that that can't possibly be correct and that that can only lead certainly to idolatry because it teaches people to categorize God and to think about God and to justify the existence from God in terms of how he relates to me and what he means to me. It puts man at the center and says God must be understood and discussed in ways that matter to me. That can't be right. That can only lead people astray. Why? Because the starting point is God. Everything comes from him and so we have to start with God and when we start with God what we find in his invisibility and in his infinity and in his independence, we find that he's someone completely different from us and so to try to start from the perspective of man and saying, "Let's talk about God only as man will deem him relevant," is to completely miss the point. So this is why when we study systematic theology, we start with revelation and then we say, "What does revelation say about God?" It says that he's somebody who is unsearchable and all of a sudden you say, "Okay, then this makes God big and it makes me small." And that is the right way for us to think. With respect to time, God had no beginning and he will have no end.

Now, with respect to space, time and space, with respect to space, God is immense by which we mean he has no spatial boundaries. He is everywhere present. He is omnipresent. Look at Psalm 139 in a familiar text. Psalm 139, beginning in verse 7, David says,

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

God is everywhere present. He is omnipresent. He is everywhere in the fullness of his being. It's not like God is over at the end of the corner there and somehow God is present everywhere in his creation and yet carefully said, he is distinct from his creation as well. God is not in the chair, the chair is not part of God, but God is present everywhere in his creation. Why? Because he's infinite. He transcends the bounds of time. He transcends the bounds of space in a way that is completely foreign to our experience. You're here inside this building and you're not simultaneously someplace else. That's not true of God. He's present everywhere, at all times existing in his unique infinity. So when you consider that God is invisible, that he is infinite, that he is independent, you see that he's unsearchable. We cannot put our arms around God, so to speak. We cannot get our minds around this kind of being.

There is one more "I" word that I want to give you here, point 4. Just by way of review: we said, first of all, God is invisible, God is independent and God is infinite in a way that is distinct from us. Finally, point 4: God is immutable. God is immutable and his immutability means that he does not change. You know, and if you stopped, we're sweeping through these so quickly but if you stop at any one of these and dwell on them, you realize that we're talking about unsearchable things. How could someone be a personal being yet without a material body like what we're used to? How is a being infinite and transcending space and time? How can someone not have a beginning? And we just start to realize the majesty of God and for those of you who are believers in Christ here this morning, what this does is it just draws you to worship. Worship is a response of an inferior being ascribing honor to a greater being. Well, God is greater than us and that is why we worship him. Christ has redeemed us, that's why we worship him, but there is a recognition in worship that we're approaching someone greater and that is true as we consider his immutability.

His immutability means that he does not change. In Malachi 3:6 he says,

6 I, the LORD, do not change;

Look at Psalm 102, a key text on this point. Psalm 102, beginning in verse 25,

25 Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.

You are the same. Do you realize that as we talk about God in the context of 2016 today, God is exactly the same today as he was before creation began. He has not altered at all. God cannot change because he is perfect. If he were to change, he would either change from perfection to something less or if he somehow changed to something better, it would mean that he was not perfect to begin with. So his perfection and his immutability mean that he has always been the same and he always will be the same. There is never going to be a change in the essence of God. What God is, he has always been. What God is, he forever will be.

Look at James 1:17. It's remarkable as you read the New Testament epistles how frequently these great statements of God are made and it's so embedded in the biblical mindset that great things are said almost in passing. In James 1:17, it says,

17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

There is no maneuvering in God's attributes. They are always the same. His essence never changes. I've often quoted from S. Lewis Johnson. If I were a wiser teacher, I would quote from him more often than I do. S. Lewis Johnson said and I quote, "God now has all the attributes that he has ever had or ever will have. He is an immutable, unchangeable God because he is self-existent and he is completely sufficient to himself."

Now, his immutability has a certain application for us that's very essential. Do you know why you can trust God? There are multiple multiple reasons but, you know, you all would say, those of you that are believers anyway, even if you struggle in your walk to manifest this in serenity and peace in your heart, you all would say, "I trust God." Do you realize that your trust is only valid if God is immutable, if God does not change? Because if somehow God changed, then you wouldn't know what he was going to be like in the future. If he was a changing variable being like you and I are, we are born, we're raised, we get sick, we die, sometimes we're on our game, sometimes we're off our game, sometimes we're really pleasant, sometimes we're a pain in the neck, speaking in the first person, of course. God is not like that. God doesn't change and the fact that he saved you and set his love upon you means that he will never take it away. The fact that God says, the Scripture says, that he will work all things together for good, that depends on, that is shown by his sovereignty and by the fact that he will not change or alter his purposes in your life, and because he meant good for you from the beginning before creation when he chose you in Christ to be with him forever and he set that purpose upon you and has been working that out, it's never going to change. You rest in that and you have confidence and your soul finds its anchor, it's rock, it's fortress in the fact that God has done this and that God does not change and therefore he will not vary in his purpose toward you. So his immutability is one of the great grounds of the security and serenity of your soul. These things matter. These things matter.

Now, I'm going to skip ahead and I want to say just a few words about Christ in closing here. There are other things about the immutability of God that we should address, what does it mean when God, Scripture sometimes says God changed his mind? In the preaching of Jonah, God relented and did not bring the judgment that he said, wasn't that a change in God? Well, the answer is no, that's not a change in God. It means that God is dealing with changing men according to his unchanging character, and God deals, as men change, as men repent, God's dealings with them differ in accordance with them but it's always from an unchanging character. God always deals graciously with those who repent and come to him through faith in Christ. There is more to be said about that but we'll leave it there for now. God deals with changing men from an unchanging nature.

Now, quickly, what about Jesus Christ? We just want to deal with this really quickly here, dealing in five minutes with what church history took a couple of centuries to hammer out. What about Jesus Christ? We teach that Jesus Christ is God in human flesh, that all the fullness of deity dwells in him in bodily form, and yet he was visible. He walked on earth. People saw him. I thought God was invisible? He died on the cross. I thought you said that God was immortal? And as he walked on earth, he was confined to space. As he was born, he was born in a manger. Scripture says that he grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor before God and man, isn't that reflecting change and how does that deal with immutability? Have we gotten it all wrong by ascribing deity to our Lord Jesus Christ? If these principles are attributes of God, how is it then that we attribute deity to Christ in light of those things?

Well, here's the thing, beloved: what you must remember about our Lord Jesus is that he is one person with two distinct natures. He existed as God but he took on human flesh. In his humanity, Christ was visible. In his humanity, Jesus grew and lived and was in one place and died. But his human nature did not alter the divine nature. The divine essence was not changed and Scripture goes out of its way to make this point clear. In Hebrews 13:8 it says,

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

And so when foolish people and skeptics and those who are hostile to the God of the Bible point to aspects of the human life of Christ and say, "This therefore shows that he was not God," they are simply manifesting the fact that they don't understand the most basic things about biblical revelation and theology and the things that have been studied and explained about Christ for centuries and centuries. So don't let that throw you off or make you doubt the things that Scripture has taught us.

So, God is invisible. God is independent. He is infinite. He is immutable. Then the question becomes this: does that strain your thinking? Does this just stretch your mind to realms that you cannot comprehend? It should because his greatness is unsearchable. For the unbeliever, the nature of God should provoke in you a fear of judgment. This great God who transcends all human thought, transcends time and space and is infinitely holy, this is the great God with whom you have to do. This is the great God who has appointed a day of judgment where men will appear before him and give an account for their lives and to appear before this great God in the rags of unrighteousness and sin is an unthinkable destiny because you can see when you grasp something of the incommunicable attributes of God, there is no possibility of you being able to survive an encounter with him. You need a Savior. You need the Lord Jesus Christ who said, "Every one who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life." God in part makes himself known to extend himself even to unbelievers and say, "I am supremely great and you cannot approach me on your own terms. You must come in the one way that has been designated. There is no other name given to us under heaven by which men must be saved other than the name of the Lord Jesus."

So if you're here today and you do not know Christ or you're watching on the live stream and you don't know Christ, understand that the greatness of God compels you to repentance. For the Christian, for those of us that gather together in Christ today, our unchanging God, our unchanging God is our rock and our fortress. We have come to one who has secured us and now that he has us in his family, now that he has us in his infinite, unchanging, immutable hand, so to speak, do you see that you are safe and secure? Do you see the basis upon which we can believe and rejoice when Scripture says he will never leave us or forsake us? That's grounded not in your conduct but in who he is.

Let's pray together.

Father, we bow in worship before the greatness of your unsearchable majesty. You are not like us. You have always been and you never change. You exist out of your own power. No one made you. No one gives you anything that you didn't already have and you will never change. In the presence of such a great and magnificent God, we bow low and we worship. In the presence of your unsearchable majesty, we thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ. It's clearer in our thinking today that we could never have approached you on our own. We needed God to step into our realm in order to save us and reconcile us to one so far beyond us. Those things speak to your love and your grace and your mercy which we will see in days to come, but for now we recognize your transcendence, we worship you for it, we bow low and we thank you that in Christ we have one whose shed blood gives us perfect access, even bold and confident access. How great Christ must be if we can approach this great God through our Savior, the Lord Jesus. Sink these things deep into our spiritual hearts, sink them deep into our thinking, that we would grow and be stable believers in Christ as a result. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.