Summary, Part 7 (final) 5. A SPIRIT HAS PERSONALITY [50:21]. Personality involves self-awareness, which is expressed by personal pronouns. By this, we distinguish ourselves from others. In angels and demons: LUKE 1:19; MARK 4:9; MATTHEW 8:29, 31. In humans: taught in almost every page of the Bible, but it is starkly illustrated in disembodied humans (LUKE 9:30; ACTS 16:23-31; 2 CORINTHIANS 5:8; PHILIPPIANS 1:23; REVELATION 6:9-10). Scripture clearly teaches that God is a personal being, not an impersonal force (many texts, but consider ISAIAH 45:22). APPLICATIONS TO BE CONSIDERED NEXT LORDâS DAY.
Summary, Part 6 To be unmoved is to be un-Christian, and it leads to the church looking to the world for wisdom on emotion. 4. A SPIRIT HAS MORALITY [45:18]. Spirits are free moral agents. This consists of two parts: a. MORAL CAPACITY involves the personal consciousness of right and wrong, and with it the capability to discern right and wrong and to commend what is right and to condemn what is wrong. Scripture often calls this capacity âconscienceâ (ACTS 24:16; ROMANS 2:14, 15; etc.). In humans: PROVERBS 20:27. In angels and demons: GENESIS 3:5; 2 PETER 2:4; REVELATION 12:10. b. MORAL CHARACTER. Moral character also is associated with spirits. Understand that spirits are never morally neutral: they are either good or evil, righteous or wicked. In angels and demons: 2 PETER 2:4; JOHN 8:44; 1 SAMUEL 16:14, 16, 23; MATTHEW 3:43. In humans: 2 CORINTHIANS 7:1. In God: GENESIS 3:5; JOB 40:8; DEUTERONOMY 32:4.
Summary, Part 5 All spirits feel in a manner consistent with their nature. Godâs capacity for emotion (His emotivity) has been denied by some, but more often neglected by others. Those who deny Godâs emotivity say that the capacity to feel is incompatible with Godâs purity, immutability, and sovereignty. But that reduces many of the texts weâve cited to figurative language. Scripture states that all spirits possess the capacity of emotion. Anthropomorphic language for God in the Bible is figurative, meant to capture something important about Him. But emotional language for Him is literal, because affections are of the spirit. Menâs denial or neglect of Godâs capacity to feel does not honor God or His word. It does not grow from careful interpretation of the Bible, but often comes from self-justification and prejudice. There has been a Western, specifically northern European cultural bias imposed on Godâs character. God is not a stoic, unemotional being unmoved by His creation. This grave error has led to prayerlessness and cold doctrinarianism. Moreover, because man is the image of God, this denial of Godâs emotivity tends to undermine the dignity of human emotion, which in turn tends to undermine the cultivation of a godlike emotional life by Godâs people.
Summary, Part 4 3. A SPIRIT HAS FACULTY [25:10]. These faculties are composite; though distinct, they are to be considered together. As higher spirits, humans, angels and demons, and God all possess these faculties. a. INTELLECT OR MIND [26:45]. In humans: PSALM 77:6; PROVERBS 20:27; 1 CORINTHIANS 2:11. In angels and demons: REVELATION 12:12. In God: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:11; MARK 2:8. A dead body, though it has a brain, doesnât know, perceive, or understand anything. b. WILL [29:26]. In humans: EXODUS 35:21; MATTHEW 26:41. In angels and demons: LUKE 4:6. In God: 1 CORINTHIANS 12:18; EPHESIANS 1:5, 11; ACTS 21:14; ROMANS 9:18; JAMES 4:15; 1 CORINTHIANS 12:11. Will is also called spontaneity. c. AFFECTIONS (or feelings) [32:32]. In humans: EXODUS 6:9; NUMBERS 5:30; JUDGES 9:13; 1 SAMUEL 1:15; PROVERBS 18:14; LUKE 1:47; PHILIPPIANS 4:7. In angels and demons: JOB 38:7; REVELATION 12:12; LUKE 15:10. In God: EXODUS 20:5; JUDGES 9:13, 10:16; PSALM 90:11; ISAIAH 42:1; JOHN 11:33, 35, 17:24; ROMANS 1:18, 9:13, EPHESIANS 4:30; PHILIPPIANS 4:18.
Summary, Part 3 2. A SPIRIT IS A LIVING BEING [14:10]. The second property of spirits is life, or animacy. Spirits are not inanimate objects, but living beings. Theyâre not only living, but life-giving (JAMES 2:26, GENESIS 2:7). Without a spirit, a body becomes a corpse which disintegrates into the dust. âSoulâ stresses the animate nature of spirit, and âspiritâ stresses its animating character. After death, the righteous continue to live with Christ (REVELATION 20:4; HEBREWS 12:23) and He doesnât stop being our God (LUKE 20:37-38; cf. EXODUS 3:6). But what is life? What does it mean to be animate? The Bible doesnât offer a clear-cut definition, but it does distinguish the animate from the inanimate. The distinguishing trait is that animate creatures act on their own initiative (HEBREWS 4:12); dead, inanimate objects cannot do this. If âsoulâ emphasizes action, âspiritâ emphasizes a specific type and pattern of action, namely breathing. In fact, the Hebrew word for spirit (âruachâ) also means breath. All of this indicates that God is alive. As life is marked by power and action, it is a property of all spirits.
Summary, Part 2 DEFINED: a spirit is a non-material and living being, having faculty, morality, and personality. This describes human spirits, angels, demons, and God Himself. Reformed theologians call spirit a communicable attribute of God. 1. A SPIRIT IS A NON-MATERIAL BEING [8:03]. LUKE 24:36-39 â the disciples thought they were seeing a spirit and not a material being. But Jesus reassured them by negation: explaining what spirits donât have. Still, the Bible tells us that spirits are real and non-material. That is not a contradiction, but an acknowledgement that a non-material realm exists. It is as real as the material realm. In virtue of its non-material nature, a spirit is invisible (COLOSSIANS 1:15; 1 TIMOTHY 6:16) and indivisible: it cannot be separated into parts. Again: a spirit, because it is non-corporeal, is impassible. It doesnât have bodily appetites or passions. In LUKE 24:41-43, Jesus requested food to show the disciples that He was not just a spirit. Finally, because a spirit is non-material, it is immortal; it is not subject to dissolution. Only God is inherently immortal, but the human spirit returns to Him upon death.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] III. THE SPIRITUALITY OF GOD. JOHN 4:24 â this passage is the epitomizing text for our study. It rests three grounds: the existence of spiritual beings, that God is a spirit, and the importance of Godâs spirituality for believers. A. THE BIBLICAL CONCEPT OF A SPIRIT [starting at 3:00 of the audio]. We learn about spirits from Scripture. Created spirits, in the broadest sense of the word, may be divided into two categories: the âlower spiritsâ: which are the spirits of beasts, which sustain no continued existence apart from a material body; and âhigher spiritsâ: the spirits of angels and men, which can and do sustain existence apart from a material body (HEBREWS 1:14, 12:23). ECCLESIASTES 3:21 â like the beast, man returns to dust; this is to humble him. Yet unlike the beast, manâs spirit does not extinguish upon death, but rather returns to the God who gave it (ECCLESIASTES 12:7). And so the higher spirits can and do exist independent of a material body. We will only concern ourselves with higher spirits.
Summary, Part 4 (final) JAMES 1:13 â when Satan and man changed the creation through sin, God began to deal with us as sinners; He cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt. SUMMARY STATEMENT: With respect to alternation and change, God is unchangeable; this is Godâs immutability. In relation to decay and death, it is Godâs incorruptibility. PRACTICAL LESSONS FROM GODâS SUPREMACY: 1. GOD ALONE IS WORTHY OF OUR HUMBLE, ADORING WORSHIP [45:02]. 1 TIMOTHY 6:15 â this is our creator and redeemer. He knows our nature: we are but dust. 2. WE SHOULD GIVE GOD OUR ABSOLUTE TRUST AT ALL TIMES, ESPECIALLY IN TIMES OF NEED [48:08]. DEUTERONOMY 33:26-27 â He not only created us, but our needs as well. He did this to show His strength and faithfulness to us. 3. GOD ALONE SHOULD BE SOUGHT FOR PARDON FROM OUR SINS [51:00]. MICAH 7:18 â We canât seek it anywhere else, as nothing else can save.
Summary, Part 3 C. GOD ALONE IS INFINITE [29:02]. Godâs infinity means that He is limitless (PSALM 145:3, 147:5; ISAIAH 40:28) and illimitable (1 KINGS 8:27). All other beings are finite. Contrary to what Frank Perettiâs novels suggest, God and Satan are not competing for control. SUMMARY STATEMENT: With respect to limitation, God is infinite; this is Godâs infinity. In relation to space, it is Godâs omnipresence. D. GOD ALONE IS ETERNAL [32:33]. Godâs eternity means that only God is an eternal Spirit, without origin (PSALM 90:2, JEREMIAH 10:6, 16). All other spirits are originated; we all have a beginning. Though we may be eternal from the point of creation, only God is without origin. SUMMARY STATEMENT: With respect to origin and duration, God is infinite; this is Godâs eternity. In relation to time, it is Godâs everpresence. E. GOD ALONE IS UNCHANGEABLE [34:46]. Godâs immutability means that He alone is without alteration or change (PSALM 102:25; HEBREWS 1:10-12). All created things are mutable and changeable, but God cannot develop, improve, mature, age, decay, weaken, or grow weary (after all, he gives strength to men). MALACHI 3:6 â the precious capital of Godâs covenants with His people. JAMES 1:17 â imagine a fitful, temperamental God. All other spirits can change.
Summary, Part 2 A. GOD ALONE IS IDEAL: THAT IS, INHERENTLY AND INFINITELY PERFECT [19:21]. Perfection relates to completeness and flawlessness. All God is and does is perfect: absolutely complete and flawless. PSALM 18:30 speaks of His blamelessness. ECCLESIASTES 3:14 tells us that Godâs actions are perfect, complete, and unchangeable. ROMANS 11:35-36 tells of Godâs self-counsel. EPHESIANS 1:22-23 speaks of His perfect work in Christ. He cannot be improved, be tempted, or fall (EXODUS 15:11; JOB 4:17-18, 15:15; JAMES 1:13), and that makes Him unique. Angelic spirits are capable of falling and improvement (1 PETER 1:12), as is man (HEBREWS 12:23, MARK 10:18). SUMMARY STATEMENT: With respect to completion and flaw, God is ideal; this is Godâs ideality. In relation to lack, need, flaw, and sin, it is Godâs inexhaustibility and impeccability. B. GOD ALONE IS SELF-SUFFICIENT [26:26]. When only God was, He was perfectly happy and content in Himself (JEREMIAH 10:16, JOHN 5:26). God alone is the rock on which all rests (ACTS 17:25, 1 TIMOTHY 6:16). The creation didn't fill any need that He had, for He had no needs. Godâs self-existence is his aseity. SUMMARY STATEMENT: With respect to dependence and support, God is self-existent; this is Godâs aseity. In relation to creatures, it is Godâs independence.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] After a quick review of last weekâs message, we move on in Part Three to II. THE SUPREMACY OF GOD [starting at 3:00 of the audio]. The Old Testament stresses Godâs peerlessness, and the New His spirituality (and vice versa). Yet we must not conclude that the Testaments view Godâs nature from completely different perspectives. Throughout Scripture, we see statements containing the idea of Godâs supremacy. Starting at 5:45 of the audio, Pastor Nutter reads a list of them and asks us to note in each one the thought concerning Godâs uniqueness: EXODUS 9:14, 15:11; DEUTERONOMY 3:24, 4:35, 39, 6:4, 33:26-27; 1 SAMUEL 2:2; I KINGS 8:23, 27; PSALM 86:8, 89:6, 113:5; ISAIAH 40:17-18, 25, 28, 46:5, 9; JEREMIAH 10:6, 10, 16; MICAH 7:18; MARK 12:29, 32; JOHN 5:18, 10:30, 33; 1 CORINTHIANS 8:4, 6; PHILIPPIANS 2:6; and 1 TIMOTHY 6:15 [ends at 15:25]. God does what He does because He is who He is. His attributes are âexistentialâ, since each relates to being or existence. We now explore five of them.
Summary, Part 5 (final) This leads us back to Godâs incomprehensibility. The LBCF says that Godâs âessence cannot be comprehended by any but Himselfâ (1689 LBCF, 2:1). B. THE PRACTICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL APPLICATIONS OF GODâS SIMPLICITY [41:19]. 1. GODâS SIMPLICITY OFFERS THE COMFORT THAT WE CAN KNOW GOD AS HE REALLY IS [41:48]. This frees us from the bondage of searching for a concealed essence of God, distinct from His attributes, which would define who and what He really is. If we know what His word reveals about Him, then we can know Him. 2 TIMOTHY 1:12 â Paul didnât know God exhaustively (and neither do the angels), but he did know Him, and that give him confidence in his execution. 2. GODâS SIMPLICITY IMPLIES THAT THOSE WHO KNOW GOD WILL REFLECT WHAT HE REALLY IS [45:09]. John did not say that âGod is loveâ or that âGod is lightâ to encourage philosophical speculation about Godâs essence or attributes. 1 JOHN 1:5 â for John, Godâs simplicity was very practical. 1 JOHN 4:8, 16 â an unselfish disposition of giving and caring displays fellowship with the God who is love. A lifestyle marked by separation from the vices of the world displays fellowship with the God whose being excludes all worldly vice. The true Christian is a reflection of his God.
Summary, Part 4 First [29:07], in EXODUS 3:14, God says âI AM THAT I AMâ, or âI AM WHAT I AMâ. This reflects His self-existence and eternal being. He is no more or less than what the Bible reveals Him to be. Looking beyond it to some secret essence is to get lost in the abyss of utter mystery: there is no reference point there for us. Expressed in the third person, it would be âGod is what He is.â Second [31:57], 1 JOHN 1:5 says, âGod is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.â It would be wrong to say that âlight is Godâ, and it would be wrong to say that God is *only* light. His character is so pure that it excludes any and all moral impurity. In that same spirit, 1 JOHN 4:8, 16 says that âGod is loveâ. As humans, we are characterized by incompletion, flaw, limitation, dependence, among other things. But God has no such limitations; He is incapable of them. 2. NEVERTHELESS, GODâS ATTRIBUTES ARE DISTINCT ASPECTS OF HIS NATURE [35:50]. Some have carried the first aspect of Godâs simplicity to an extreme. They reason that if each attribute is essential to His nature, then what we call âGodâs attributesâ are really just different names for the same thing. Godâs simplicity doesnât mean that He lacks variety. He is unitary; He is all of everything that He is.
Summary, Part 3 A. THE SUBSTANCE OR MEANING OF GODâS SIMPLICITY [25:46]. In his *Systematic Theology*, Charles Hodge warns us about two extreme views of this matter that we must avoid: âIn attempting to explain the relation in which the attributes of God stand to His essence and to each other, there are two extremes to be avoided. First, we must not represent God as a composite being, composed of different elements; and secondly, we must not confound the attributes, making them all mean the same thing, which is equivalent to denying them altogether. The Realists of the middle ages tended to the former of those extremes, and the Nominalists to the other.â 1. GODâS NATURE IS UNITARY: HIS ATTRIBUTES ARE WHAT HE IS [27:07]. Human nature is composed of two parts: one part material (body) and one part immaterial (soul). Godâs nature, however, is not composite but unitary (one). God is not âpart loveâ, He is love. But He is not only love: He is also holy, and the two are not the same. Removing an attribute leaves you with something that is not God. [Back to the Catechismâs answer: âGod is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.â]
Summary, Part 2 With the indefinite article (âGod is a Spiritâ), the Greek emphasizes His being. That âSpiritâ is capitalized indicates that He is different from any other spirit. Second [15:01], the supremacy of God is a foundational aspect of His nature. Scripture teaches that our God is unique and peerless; one of a kind (PSALM 89:6, ISAIAH 40:25). Many spirits exist, but only one God. To assign spirit only to God is to risk rendering Him unknowable, but to neglect the uniqueness of God as Spirit is to risk agnosticism. Third [17:43], âGod is loveâ (1 JOHN 4:16) implies His simplicity: a third fundamental property of His nature. This simplicity leads us to consider the interrelation of His characteristics. EXODUS 3:14: âI AM THAT I AMâ. Godâs unity is a harmony. The Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 1, stresses this simplicity. Our own London Baptist Confession of Faith states it less emphatically: that God is without parts (1689 LBCF, 2:1). I. THE SIMPLICITY OF GOD [20:16]. EXODUS 3:14, 1 JOHN 1:5, 4:8, 16 combine to attest to the fact that we must know about God before we can live a life that reflects Him. If there is not a theological doctrine of simplicity, then we cannot do that.
Summary, Part 1 [Pastor Nutter credits his former professor, Pastor Greg Nichols of Grace Immanuel Reformed Baptist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for the outline of this message, which can be found in Pastor Nicholsâ book, *What does the Bible say about God?: The Biblical doctrine of God*.] This week, we move on to Part Three of the Existence and Attributes of God Series: THE SPIRITUAL, SUPREME, AND SIMPLE NATURE OF GOD. INTRODUCTION [starting at 3:00 of the audio]. This is the heart of this study. Godâs nature is an all-encompassing term that embraces His being, His form, and His personality. Godâs attributes are the essential traits that distinguish Him: what and who He is. When we examine this subject, we must proceed with caution and reverence. If we leave out any of Godâs traits, we will fall into grave error and misrepresent our God (JAMES 3:1). First [7:08], Christâs words in JOHN 4:24, âGod is a spiritâ, provide the most concise definition of Godâs nature in all of Scripture. The usual âomnisâ (omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent) are often used without the noun they modify. The answer to Question 4 of the Shorter Catechism leads off with Godâs quality: âHe is a Spiritâ. In the Greek, the absence of the indefinite article (âGod is spiritâ) emphasizes His quality of spirituality.
Summary, Part 5 (final) In *Pilgrimâs Progress*, we meet Christian in his despair. But he never fell away because he persevered. 3. The true Christian will and must bear fruit. JOHN 15:8 â fruit-bearing glorifies God, proves the disciple, and marks him with holiness. The Christian and the worldly man are different in appearance, but much more in soul. 4. Narrow is the way, and few find it. It grieves us that many will fall away, but it shouldnât surprise us. 5. How far professing believers may press on, yet never be believers at all. This is the most sobering consideration, but shouldnât surprise us, either. Weâve known of people who threw themselves into faith, only to be lured away by some worldly distraction. 6. Paulâs encouragement to persevere. From verse 10, he reminds us that the good Christian work that we do must never cease; it will make our salvation not actual, but sure.
Summary, Part 4 5. They are nominal Christians; unsaved people who identify with the Church and sit under Biblical teaching, but never come to faith [35:45]. This is the correct interpretation. The most extreme example is Judas, who was no less than one of Jesusâ disciples for three years. Much less extreme are the ones who sit in our midst for a time, even a long time. It is tragic indeed when they fall away, for what other gospel could convict them if the true one never did? D. CONCLUSION [39:30]. 1. THE INSTRUCTIVE ILLUSTRATION. Verses 7-8 tell us that the same gospel rains upon everyone, but their fruits are very different. This fruit reveals the true Christian and the nominal one. 2. THE PRONOUNCED PERSUASION. Verses 9-10 tell of Paulâs faith in his audience and his encouragement of them to press on to the end. E. CONSIDERATIONS [42:50]. 1. The only safe course in the Christian life is forward progress. Growth in faith is just that; we call it sanctification. In HEBREWS 10:38, Paul reminds us of Habakkukâs warning: that God has no delight in the soul that draws back. 2. All sin is evil, but not all sin is apostasy. Even the best Christian sins. David sinned grievously, but he never fell away. God was always willing to restore him.
Summary, Part 3 1. They are Christians who fell away [26:25]. In the immediate sense, this is the most apparent. Verses 4-5 indeed sound like believers. But Scripture interprets Scripture. True believers are regenerate: born again. When the Father delivered us to the Son, it was for keeps (cf. JOHN 6:37-40). So believing these people to be Christians would defy Godâs faithfulness to Christians, not to mention so much else in the Bible. 2. That they are Christians who failed to heed these present warnings [29:50]. But though we agree that such warnings are means of grace to keep Christians to the narrow path, this interpretation defies the spirit of the passageâs context: that Christians must press on beyond these very fundamentals. A further clue is the first person tense of verses 1-3, and the third person tense of verses 4-5. 3. They are potential Christians [32:35]. That they received infant baptism or some form of prevenient grace, but never embraced the âfinal justificationâ of true, saving faith. But such a doctrine isn't in the Bible, which tells us that we are justified by faith apart from works, once and forever. 4. They are true believers under some temporal judgment [35:00]. However, that does not accord with the passage's warnings and is not rectified "crucifying Christ afresh".
Summary, Part 2 We are not destined to build foundations for the rest of our lives, but to build on them; not just individual Christians, but churches fall into this trap as well. They may do it for the sake of visitors and new Christians, but the older flock will wither and starve. But as verse 3 indicates, it is God Himself who determines our progress. This does not conflict with Paulâs exhortation to press on: we are to press on, and our sovereign God will set the limits. At verse 4, we begin to see the rationale of the passage. We press on to not get caught in an impossibility: the renewal of apostates who have fallen away. It is possible for such people to fall away, but it is impossible to bring them back. Doing so would require another sacrifice of Christ. Biblical theology makes it plain that Paulâs language here is hypothetical: Christâs atoning sacrifice was once and final for all eternity. The thought of such a requirement is blasphemous, but what does the Roman Catholic Mass do every week, and how many Reformation martyrs were murdered for calling that what it is? C. CONUNDRUM, or CONTROVERSY [25:30]. Who is being described here? A number of explanations have been offered.