Theology 1 – The Doctrine of God
On January 7th 1855 the young twenty year old minister of new Park Street Baptist church Southwark opened his morning address as follows, “It has been said by someone that the proper study of mankind is man, I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his father.” Any study of theology must have as its beginning a study of God. Ryrie says “unquestionably the knowledge of God is desirable,” for the Christian though the knowledge of God is essential. But how do we know there is a God? For the believer this is a matter of faith, cf. Hebrews 1:1v6, however there are certain arguments which can be used to help convince the gainsayer. There are several arguments that prove the existence of God, we shall give three of them as a sample here.
1. The Cosmological Argument.
This argument simply stated is, “everything begun must have an adequate cause.” For example the universe was begun therefore the universe must have an adequate cause for its production. That cause we believe is God, cf. Hebrews 3:4.
2. The Theological Argument.
Thiessen sums up this argument for us, “order and useful arrangement in a system imply intelligence and purpose — the universe is characterised by order and useful arrangement; therefore the universe has an intelligent and free cause.” This seems to be the thought intimated in Psalm 94:9.
3. The Moral Argument.
Strong sums up this argument as follows, “conscience recognises the existence of a moral law which has supreme authority; known violations of this moral law are followed by feelings of ill-desert and fears of judgement; this moral law, since it is not self-imposed, and these threats of judgement, since they are not self-executing, respectively argue the existence of a holy will that has imposed the law, and of a punitive power that will execute the threats of a moral nature.” Scripture appeals to this argument for proof of God’s existence in Romans 1:19 & 32; 2:14-16. Having established the existence of God we must now define God, and this we shall do by considering three important aspects of His being.
1. HIS PERSONALITY
Let us begin by first of all defining God. “God is an essence or substance, He is not an idea or even the personification of an idea.” This definition will become clearer once we examine the different aspects of this divine substance, there are four things for us to consider.
A. It is spiritual.
God is not a material substance such as metal or glass, He is a spiritual substance, cf. John 4:24. As such He is invisible, cf. John 1:18, immaterial and incorporeal, cf. Luke 24:39, (this reference shows how Jesus sought to prove that He was not an incorporeal spirit).
B. It is self-existent.
God has the basis of His own existence within Himself, unlike humans who are created beings and therefore have the basis of their existence outside themselves, cf. Exodus 3:14; 6:3. God does not depend upon anybody or anything for His eternal existence.
C. It is Infinite.
God is not in any way limited or circumscribed by space, rather all finite space is dependent upon Him, cf. Isaiah 66:1, Jeremiah 23:24, Acts 17:28.
D. It is eternal.
By this we mean that He is infinite in relation to time. He is without beginning or ending. He is free from all limitations of time, for He is the creator of it in the first place, cf. Psalm 90:2; 102:27.
These four things define for us the substance which is God, but they only tell us what kind of a substance He is they don’t tell us His personality. His personality is revealed in His attributes. There are two types of attributes, moral and non-moral.