Dr. Ray E. Heiple, Jr.
Who is God – Part 2
Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22ESV
Question 7 of the Larger Catechism asks, “What is God?” It gives the answer: “God is a Spirit, in and of himself infinite in being, glory, blessedness, and perfection; all-sufficient, eternal, unchangeable, incomprehensible, everywhere present, almighty, knowing all things, most wise, most holy, most just, most merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” Last time we examined the first half of this answer, concluding with a consideration of God’s unchangeable nature. Because God is unchangeable, we can trust Him to always keep His Word. As we begin this week, let us notice again how the framers of the Confession based their description of God entirely upon the testimony of Scripture. It is crucially important that we worship and know God as He has revealed Himself to be in His Word, and not as we would like Him to be according to our limited understanding and sinful natures.
First we notice that God is incomprehensible. Although as rational beings we can know God truly and accurately, as limited creatures we cannot know God fully. The being of the infinite God cannot be fully comprehended by a finite mind. Only the persons of the Godhead can fully know one another (Matt. 11:27; 1 Cor. 2:11). It is truly wonderful to consider that throughout our everlasting fellowship with God we will always be learning more of who He is!
Next, the Catechism notes the three “omni’s” of God: God is omnipresent (present everywhere), omnipotent (almighty), and omniscient (all knowing). The Scriptures teach in many places God’s omnipresence (Ps. 139:1-13; Jonah). Wherever we go, God is already there, for He transcends space and matter. In other words space and matter cannot limit God’s presence. He is in everyplace at once – not part of Him, as if He were so enormous that the whole universe existed within God as straw in a bulging sack. But all of God is present in every part of His universe. He pervades the tiniest leaf and the greatest galaxy. He is fully present in every location for all of time. Similarly God’s omnipotence, means that He is almighty over all that He has made. Everything that exists, exists because God wills it and He has full control over every part of His creation. Accordingly, atheistic “proofs” of the philosophical impossibility of an almighty God through contrived questions like: “Can God create a rock so big He cannot lift it?” show themselves to be subtle but empty linguistic attempts at redefining God out of existence. This particular question is a trick of words, which amounts to the same thing as saying, “God can only be almighty, if He is stronger than Himself,” which is absurd. Being almighty does not mean that God can do everything conceivable! God cannot make a square-circle, or make 1 + 1 = 3, or make Himself non-existent. Of course God cannot do something that is itself a contradiction! Such a concept has nothing to do with power. God can do whatever He desires with all of creation at any moment. This is the fullness of being omnipotent: having all power over everything eternally. This is what the Scriptures show our God to have. Finally, God’s omniscience, His knowing all things, does not mean that God must “know” things that are themselves absurd or impossible. God does not know the sound of one hand clapping, or what cold-heat would feel like. Such things are meaningless by definition. God fully knows all knowledge of all things. Neither space, nor time, nor the creature can limit God’s knowledge one bit. His knowledge is full. Nothing is left out, nothing can hide from Him. God cannot make a mistake and He cannot learn for He already fully knows all that there is to know!
The same attack is sometimes made on God’s eternality. Someone will say, “Well if God created everything, who created God?” The correct answer is not “God created Himself,” which is absurd, but “God was not created.” For God to have been created, would mean that there would have been a time when God was not. But God always was. He WAS in the beginning (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1). God does not have a beginning because He was not made. There is nothing absurd about the possibility of a being having no beginning or end. In fact reason demands if anything exists something must exist eternally. The Scriptures show our Triune God to be this something. He is eternal, without beginning and without end. Everything else was made and therefore has a beginning. Everything else is God’s creature, but God alone is the unmade Creator. Take some time today to meditate on the perfections of the being of God.