God Is Great!

Over and over, the psalmist proclaims it: "God is great!" (Pss. 48:1; 86:10; 95:3; 145:3). What does this mean? Partly, it indicates God's immensity. We tend to think in spatial terms, of God being "big," and so do the Psalms occasionally, as in Psalm 103:11, "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him." But something else is in view here. God is greater than we can grasp. There is more to God than we can ever know or even imagine. Think of the Incarnation, or the Trinity, or the cross of Christ and you will grasp a little of the "infinities and immensities" of the Christian faith. God is truly great! Theology has expressed this notion by saying that God is incomprehensible —not that God cannot be known at all, but that he cannot be known fully . "Finitum non capax infinitum," wrote Calvin: "The finite cannot grasp the infinite." Two opposing pictures help us grasp this idea: God dwells in "unapproachable light" (1 Tim. 6:16), and, "Clouds and thick ... Read more

The "Inability" of God

The inability of God? How can God possibly be thought of as incapable, when we know very well that he is omnipotent? He is not only mighty, but almighty! When the angel Gabriel said to Mary, "Nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37), he was asserting a truth that Jesus would later reassert by stating that "with God all things are possible" (Matt. 19:26). And Christ's assertion is in perfect harmony with the Lord's rhetorical question to Abraham many centuries earlier: "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" (Gen. 18:14). The answer is evident. It is what Jeremiah proclaimed in his prayer: "Nothing is too difficult for You" (Jer. 32:17). So then, Scripture is unmistakable in affirming that nothing is impossible with God. And that makes it worse than ridiculous to speak of the inability of God. What God Is Unable to Do And yet, the Scriptures just as forthrightly declare that God is unable to do certain things. Hebrews 6:18 tells us in no uncertain terms that "it is impossible for God to ... Read more

The Glory of God: The Sense of All That God Is

The Hebrew word for "glory" means "that which is heavy or weighty." When used figuratively, it refers to God's intense, profound presence, his sheer "weight." By contrast, David Wells says that God is regarded by many modern Christians as "weightless." We must rediscover God's glory. Moses was granted a vision of God's glory, but it was only the "fringe" of that glory that passed by. He did not see the "face" of God. Yet even this was enough to cause Moses' face to radiate the splendor of God's presence with him. We are granted a vision of God's glory in Jesus Christ. In communion with Jesus, we experience and come to reflect something of God's glory. Here are some of the elements of God's weightiness: 1. A Sense of Heaven—the Heavenly Presence The glory of God was usually revealed in the tabernacle and the temple. God used the medium of the clouds to convey a sense of his presence to his people (Ex. 40; 1 Kings 8). The clouds were associated with the heavenly region above. When the cloud ... Read more

God's Remarkable Providence

Fish, as the saying goes, are the last to ask what water is. Aside from the fact that fish were not created to ask questions, water is the medium of their existence. We, on the other hand, don't live in that element, so we find water noteworthy. Yet we can be like fish in failing to marvel at something just as basic as water, but far more wonderful. All of us inhabit an element that is as constant a part of our lives as water is for fish. The element that we all "swim" in is God's holy, wise, and powerful governing and preserving of all of us and all our actions. It's "providence," the medium of our existence. There never has been and never will be as much as a single nanosecond of any person's life that is not submerged in the infinite holiness, wisdom, and power of the Creator who preserves and governs us. Perhaps it's understandable that we humans take providence for granted. A Dramatic Reminder Every now and then, though, God's care and guidance can be stunning. Believers ought to take such ... Read more

Is Predestination the Same Thing as Fate?

This is a sad state of mind that people fall into sometimes, in which they do not know the difference between God and fate. One of the most astonishing illustrations of it in all history is, no doubt, that afforded by our Cumberland Presbyterian brethren, who for a hundred years now [ as of 1904—Ed .] have been vigorously declaring that the Westminster Confession teaches "fatalism." What they mean is that the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches that it is God who determines all that shall happen in his universe; that God has not—to use a fine phrase of Dr. Charles Hodge's—"given it either to necessity, or to chance, or to the caprice of man, or to the malice of Satan, to control the sequence of events and all their issues, but has kept the reins of government in his own hands." This, they say, is fate: because (so they say) it involves "an inevitable necessity" in the falling out of events. And this doctrine of "fatality," they say—or at least, their historian, Dr. B. W. McDonnold says ... Read more

Does God Give Bad Advice?

What does God know, and when does he know it? This startling question lies at the heart of what may well become the hottest theological debate among evangelicals. The outcome will determine whether evangelicals remain committed to what the church has always believed about God, or veer off in favor of a more user-friendly deity. The current debate swirls around the arguments of Gregory A. Boyd, a theology professor at Bethel College and pastor of a large church in St. Paul, Minnesota. A popular lecturer and a provocative writer, Mr. Boyd has become the focus of intense debate within the Baptist General Conference (with which Bethel College is affiliated), Baker Book House (his publisher), and the larger evangelical world. Mr. Boyd's theological argument comes down to this: The Christian church has adopted a doctrine of God that is deeply rooted in Greek philosophy, hopelessly irrelevant to contemporary life, and in conflict with biblical passages indicating that God changes his mind and fails to know the ... Read more

Ten Things You Always Wanted to Know about General Assembly

Note: since our General Assembly is being held this month (June 12-19, 2002 at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts), we thought it might be helpful to get answers to some basic questions from the Rev. Donald J. Duff, the stated clerk of the General Assembly.—Editor 1. What is a General Assembly? If the session is the body of elders over the local church, and the presbytery is the body of elders over the regional church, then the General Assembly is "the governing body of the whole church," the whole OPC (Form of Government, XV.2). In judicial matters, it is the highest court of the church. It meets once every year. 2. Why is it called the "General Assembly"? This is the name traditionally given to the highest court in Presbyterian churches. It is drawn from Hebrews 12:23, where it refers to Christians gathered around the Lord in heaven. Some of our sister denominations call their analogous meeting a synod. 3. Who pays for it? The General Assembly has two funds, supported by ... Read more


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