The Attributes of God: “The Knowledge of God”

knowledgeTHE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
A.W. Pink

THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD

God is omniscient. He knows everything: everything possible, everything actual; all events, all creatures, God the past, the present and the future. He is perfectly acquainted with every detail in the life of every being in heaven, in earth and in hell. “He knoweth what is in the darkness” (Dan. 2:22). Nothing escapes Hs notice, nothing can be hidden from Him, nothing is forgotten by Him. Well may we say with the Psalmist, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Ps. 139:6). His knowledge is perfect. He never errs, never changes, never overlooks anything. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). Yes, such is the God with whom “we have to do!”

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue but, lo, O Lord, Thou knowest it altogether” (Ps. 139:2-4). What a wondrous Being is the God of Scripture! Each of His glorious attributes should render Him honorable in our esteem. The apprehension of His omniscience ought to bow us in adoration before Him. Yet how little do we meditate upon this Divine perfection! Is it because the very thought of it fills us with uneasiness?

How solemn is this fact: nothing can be concealed from God! “For I know the things that come into your mind, every one of them” (Ezek. 11:5). Though He be invisible to us, we are not so to Him. Neither the darkness of night, the closest curtains, nor the deepest dungeon can hide any sinner from the eyes of Omniscience. The trees of the garden were not able to conceal our first parents. No human eye beheld Cain murder his brother, but his Maker witnessed his crime. Sarah might laugh derisively in the seclusion of her tent, yet was it heard by Jehovah. Achan stole a wedge of gold and carefully hid it in the earth, but God brought it to light. David was at much pains to cover up his wickedness, but ere long the all-seeing God sent one of His servants to say to him, “Thou art the man! And to writer and reader is also said, Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).

Men would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could—what a proof that “the carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7)! The wicked do as naturally hate this Divine perfection as much as they are naturally compelled to acknowledge it. They wish there might be no Witness of their sins, no Searcher of their hearts, no Judge of their deeds. They seek to banish such a God from their thoughts: “They consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness” (Hosea 7:2). How solemn is Psalm 90:8! Good reason has every Christ-rejecter for trembling before it: Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.

But to the believer, the fact of God’s omniscience is a truth fraught with much comfort. In times of perplexity he says with Job, “But He knoweth the way that I take.” (23:10). It may be profoundly mysterious to me, quite incomprehensible to my friends, but “He knoweth!” In times of weariness and weakness believers assure themselves “He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Ps. 103:14). In times of doubt and suspicion they appeal to this very attribute saying, “Search me, 0 God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Ps. 139:23,24). In time of sad failure, when our actions have belied our hearts, when our deeds have repudiated our devotion, and the searching question comes to us, “Lovest thou Me?;” we say, as Peter did, “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee” (John 21:17).

Here is encouragement to prayer. There is no cause for fearing that the petitions of the righteous will not be heard, or that their sighs and tears shall escape the notice of God, since He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. There is no danger of the individual saint being overlooked amidst the multitude of supplicants who daily and hourly present their various petitions, for an infinite Mind is as capable as paying the same attention to millions as if only one individual were seeking its attention. So too the lack of appropriate language, the inability to give expression to the deepest longing of the soul, will not jeopardize our prayers, for “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isa. 65:24).

“Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Ps. 147:5). God not only knows whatsoever has happened in the past in every part of His vast domains, and He is not only thoroughly acquainted with everything that is now transpiring throughout the entire universe, but He is also perfectly cognizant with every event, from the least to the greatest, that ever will happen in the ages to come. God’s knowledge of the future is as complete as is His knowledge of the past and the present, and that, because the future depends entirely upon Himself. Were it in anywise possible for something to occur apart from either the direct agency or permission of God, then that something would be independent of Him, and He would at once cease to be Supreme.

Now the Divine knowledge of the future is not a mere abstraction, but something which is inseparably connected with and accompanied by His purpose. God has Himself designed whatsoever shall yet be, and what He has designed must be effectuated. As His most sure Word affirms, “He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand” (Dan. 4:35). And again, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21). The wisdom and power of God being alike infinite, the accomplishment of whatever He hath purposed is absolutely guaranteed. It is no more possible for the Divine counsels to fail in their execution than it would be for the thrice holy God to lie.

Nothing relating to the future is in anywise uncertain so far as the actualization of God’s counsels are concerned. None of His decrees are left contingent either on creatures or secondary causes. There is no future event which is only a mere possibility, that is, something which may or may not come to pass, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18). Whatever God has decreed is inexorably certain, for He is without variableness, or shadow, of turning. (James 1:17). Therefore we are told at the very beginning of that book which unveils to us so much of the future, of “Things which must shortly come to pass.” (Rev. 1:1).

The perfect knowledge of God is exemplified and illustrated in every prophecy recorded in His Word. In the Old Testament are to be found scores of predictions concerning the history of Israel, which were fulfilled to their minutest detail, centuries after they were made. In them too are scores more foretelling the earthly career of Christ, and they too were accomplished literally and perfectly. Such prophecies could only have been given by One who knew the end from the beginning, and whose knowledge rested upon the unconditional certainty of the accomplishment of everything foretold. In like manner, both Old and New Testament contain many other announcements yet future, and they too “must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44), must because foretold by Him who decreed them.

It should, however, be pointed out that neither God’s knowledge nor His cognition of the future, considered simply in themselves, are causative. Nothing has ever come to pass, or ever will, merely because God knew it. The cause of all things is the will of God. The man who really believes the Scriptures knows beforehand that the seasons will continue to follow each other with unfailing regularity to the end of earth’s history (Gen. 8:22), yet his knowledge is not the cause of their succession. So God’s knowledge does not arise from things because they are or will be but because He has ordained them to be. God knew and foretold the crucifixion of His Son many hundreds of years before He became incarnate, and this, because in the Divine purpose, He was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world: hence we read of His being “delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

A word or two by way of application. The infinite knowledge of God should fill us with amazement. How far exalted above the wisest man is the Lord! None of us knows what a day may bring forth, but all futurity is open to His omniscient gaze. The infinite knowledge of God ought to fill us with holy awe. Nothing we do, say, or even think, escapes the cognizance of Him with whom we have to do: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). What a curb this would be unto us, did we but meditate upon it more frequently! Instead of acting recklessly, we should say with Hagar, “Thou God seest me” (Gen. 16:13). The apprehension of God’s infinite knowledge should fill the Christian with adoration. The whole of my life stood open to His view from the beginning. He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me. Oh, how the realization of this should bow me in wonder and worship before Him!

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There are several very excellent treatments of this subject and ones in which we distinctly adhere to, i.e., Calvin, Hodge, BB Warfield and more but we have chosen A.W. Pink’s “Attributes of God” for its simplistic easy-to-understand writing for the novice believer who happens upon our blog. _TheologyGirl

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God’s Aseity

There is nothing more important for Christians to learn than the attributes of God. Without reading, studying and understanding them one can become steeped in error, doctrine, and application which affects all in life. The Bible teaches it. It has a name in theology. It is God’s “Aseity” and explains his independence in all things as the Self-Existent GOD. Study it, apply it and your heart, mind and soul will be eased and humbled by it._TheologyGirl

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The Independence or Self-Existence of God
Rev. D. H. Kuiper
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“For as the Father has life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” John 5:26

Convinced that there is nothing so precious or blessed as a true knowledge of the living God, and equally convinced that much of the church today knows not God, we continue setting forth the various attributes or virtues of God. Of God’s many virtues, there are some which are reflected in the child of God who has Christ living in him; love, grace, and mercy would be examples of these. There are others which are true of God alone and never become true of the saint at any time. An example of this category of attributes is set forth in the text quoted above. John 5:26 describes very powerfully the virtue of God called His independence or His self-existence. God is independent; the creature is dependent, and that upon God! As we see what these words of Jesus mean we ought to be humbled and filled with reverence, awe, and a spirit of worship.

In the fifth chapter of John, Jesus is engaged in controversy with the fault-finding Jews who refuse to believe on Him. If you would take the time to read this chapter you will discover that the controversy centers about the relationship between “Father” and “Son.” These two words also appear in the text quoted above; we ought to have a clear understanding of whom these words are truly speaking. Since the truth of the Trinity is not at all under discussion here, it is plain that “Father” refers to the Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) while the word “Son” stands for Jesus, the Son of God in the flesh, as He walked and talked on the earth. This is the only interpretation that fits those verses where Jesus speaks of God and Himself (see verses 17 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27), and therefore this must also be the meaning in verse 36. Let us keep this in mind: the Triune God in heaven and the man Christ Jesus on earth!

Basic to the Being of God, and one of the fundamentals truths about God that Scripture reveals to us, is that God is completely independent and has no need of anything outside of Himself. Jesus says, “God has life in Himself!” As far as this important matter of life is concerned, we must understand that God has life of and in and through Himself. God does not depend upon any one or any thing outside of Himself for life. Not only does He have life in Himself, but God is life; He is the immortal, living God Who is the Lord of life! Theologians use a term here that means “from-Himnself-ness.” IN all His Being and perfections, God demonstrates “from-Himself-ness.” God is independent as to mind (Romans 11:34), as to will (Ephesians 1:11), as to love (Hosea 14), and as to power (Psalm 115:3).

There is something else to remember here: God is so independent and without need of any thing outside of Himself that nothing can ever add any thing to God. Creation does not add anything to God.
Creation reveals the wonderful glory of God, but it does not add to it. He is independent in glory; in Himself He is all-glorious. The salvation of the Church as a whole, and each member of the Church in particular, does not add to God’s great glory! Oh, salvation reveals the wonders of His grace and glory, but
salvation cannot increase it! From eternity to eternity God has all glory! Still more, the Lord Jesus Christ in His incarnation, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension, did not add any thing to God either! All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily! That Christ revealed the glory of God to us is wonderfully and forever true! But in so doing He did not add anything to God. How could He? God is unchangeable. Before creation He is the God of all glory, as well as after creation, and He is that to all eternity, of Himself! God is the God of life Who sustains all, but Who is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but He is enriched by none. We suggest you read Isaiah 40:12-17 carefully at this point. In the light of these exclamations of the prophet, do you think that the sacrifices of bullocks, sheep, and goats by the Israelites in the temple added any thing to God? Did God need those things, was He enriched by them? And what of our service of God on the Sabbath Day in His house, as well as from day to day? Does God need us to be happy, to be complete. to be glorious in perfections and praises? Not at all! God could have gone from eternity to eternity, supremely blessed and glorious in Himself, without decreeing Christ, the Church, creation or any thing. Because, you see, God lives a perfect life within Himself as the Triune, covenant God; He lives, speaks, loves, delights, within Himself as the all sufficient, independent, Triune God!

There are certain names of God which reveal His independence most vividly, names which only God has and which the creature could never, never bear. We have in mind “the Almighty One”, “the
Highest One”, “the Lord of Hosts.” Each of these names reveals that God is above all else, and is not dependent in any way upon any thing outside His Being. But undoubtedly the name of God that reveals the greatness, glory, and independence of God most clearly of all is the name JEHOVAH (I AM or I AM THAT I AM). When God says of Himself, in fact names Himself, I AM, He very truthfully and confidently asserts that He rests for Being upon no one but Himself, exists before all things, and all things exist through Him. When God says, “I AM”, He confidently asserts that He has need of nothing, but by and through and of Himself, IS! It is true, the name JEHOVAH has tremendous significance for our election, redemption, preservation, trust in God’s promises, for all the life of the covenant of grace. But we must understand that God reveals himself as He does in all our salvation exactly as He is in Himself, so that first He is JEHOVAH in Himself and then He is JEHOVAH in all our salvation!

We ought to be struck, now, by the fact that we creatures differ radically from God on this matter of being. God is independent; we are always dependent, and our dependence is upon Him. Oh, we can be so proud! We can live sometimes as if we had no need of God, as if we were the captains of our futures and the masters of our own destinies, as if we have things pretty much in control. We can behave ourselves sometimes as that rich and foolish man in the parable of Luke 12 who said, “Soul, thou hast much goods
laid up for many year; take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry.” In our self-sufficiency we think that we can take care of ourselves. We make our plans sometimes without a thought of God, and without saying, “If the Lord wills and we live.”

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TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen, Editor-Publisher Copyright ©1984-2018

The Attributes of God: The Supremacy of God

supremacyTHE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD
A.W. Pink

THE SUPREMACY OF GOD

In one of his letters to Erasmus, Luther said, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” Probably that renowned scholar resented such a rebuke, the more so, since it proceeded from a miner’s son; nevertheless, it was thoroughly deserved. We too, though having no standing among the religious leaders of this degenerate age, prefer the same charge against the majority of the preachers of our day, and against those who, instead of searching the Scriptures for themselves, lazily accept the teaching of others. The most dishonoring and degrading conceptions of the rule and reign of the Almighty are now held almost everywhere. To countless thousands, even among those professing to be Christians, the God of the Scriptures is quite unknown.

Of old, God complained to an apostate Israel, Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself. (Ps. 50:21). Such must now be His indictment against an apostate Christendom. Men imagine that the Most High is moved by sentiment, rather than actuated by principle. They suppose that His omnipotency is such an idle fiction that Satan is thwarting His designs on every side. They think that if He has formed any plan or purpose at all, then it must be like theirs, constantly subject to change. They openly declare that whatever power He possesses must be restricted, lest He invade the citadel of man’s “free will” and reduce him to a “machine.” They lower the all efficacious Atonement, which has actually redeemed everyone for whom it was made, to a mere “remedy,” which sin-sick souls may use if they feel disposed to; and they enervate the invincible work of the Holy Spirit to an “offer” of the Gospel which sinners may accept or reject as they please.

The “god” of this twentieth century no more resembles the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ than does the dim flickering of a candle the glory of the midday sun. The “god” who is now talked about in the average pulpit, spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in much of the religious literature of the day, and preached in most of the so-called Bible Conferences is the figment of human imagination, an invention of maudlin sentimentality. The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form “gods” out of wood and stone, while the millions of heathen inside Christendom manufacture a “god” out of their own carnal mind. In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God, and no God at all. A “god” whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.

The supremacy of the true and living God might well be argued from the infinite distance which separates the mightiest creatures from the almighty Creator. He is the Potter, they are but the clay in His hands to be molded into vessels of honor, or to be dashed into pieces (Ps. 2-9) as He pleases. Were all the denizens of heaven and all the inhabitants of the earth to combine in revolt against Him, it would occasion Him no uneasiness, and would have less effect upon His eternal and unassailable Throne than has the spray of Mediterranean’s waves upon the towering rocks of Gibraltar. So puerile and powerless is the creature to affect the Most High, Scripture itself tells us that when the Gentile heads unite with apostate Israel to defy Jehovah and His Christ, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh” (Ps. 2:4).

The absolute and universal supremacy of God is plainly and positively affirmed in many scriptures. “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory and the majesty: for all in the heaven and all in the earth is Thine; Thine is the Kingdom, O Lord, and Thou art exalted as Head above all. . . .And Thou reignest over all” (1 Chron. 29:11, 12)—note reignest now, not “will do so in the Millennium.” “O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou, God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none (not even the Devil himself) is able to withstand Thee?” (2 Chron. 20:6). Before Him presidents and popes, kings and emperors, are less than grasshoppers.

“But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13). Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign, but King of kings, and Lord of lords. “I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought of Thine can be hindered” (Job 42:3, margin), or, as another translator, “no purpose of Thine can be frustrated.” All that He has designed He does. All that He has decreed, He performs. “But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psa. 115.3); and why has He? Because “there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord” (Prov 21:30).

God’s supremacy over the works of His hands is vividly depicted in Scripture. Inanimate matter, irrational creatures, all perform their Maker’s bidding. At His pleasure the Red Sea divided and its waters stood up as walls (Ex. 14); and the earth opened her mouth, and guilty rebels went down alive into the pit (Num. 14). When He so ordered, the sun stood still (Josh. 10); and on another occasion went backward ten degrees on the dial of Ahaz (Isa. 38:8). To exemplify His supremacy, He made ravens carry food to Elijah (1 Kings 17), iron to swim on top of the waters (2 Kings 6:5), lions to be tame when Daniel was cast into their den, fire to burn not when the three Hebrews were flung into its flames. Thus “Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6).

God’s supremacy is also demonstrated in His perfect rule over the wills of men. Let the reader ponder carefully Ex. 34:24. Three times in the year all the males of Israel were required to leave their homes and go up to Jerusalem. They lived in the midst of hostile people, who hated them for having appropriated their lands. What, then, was to hinder the Canaanites from seizing their opportunity, and, during the absence of the men, slaying the women and children and taking possession of their farms? If the hand of the Almighty was not upon the wills even of wicked men, how could He make this promise beforehand, that none should so much as “desire” their lands? Ah, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will” (Prov. 21:1).

But, it may be objected, do we not read again and again in Scripture how that men defied God, resisted His will, broke His commandments, disregarded His warnings, and turned a deaf ear to all His exhortations? Certainly we do. And does this nullify all that we have said above? If it does, then the Bible plainly contradicts itself. But that cannot be. What the objector refers to is simply the wickedness of man against the external word of God, whereas what we have mentioned above is what God has purposed in Himself. The rule of conduct He has given us to walk by, is perfectly fulfilled by none of us; His own eternal “counsels” are accomplished to their minutest details.

The absolute and universal supremacy of God is affirmed with equal plainness and positiveness in the New Testament. There we are told that God “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11)—the Greek for “worketh” means to work effectually. For this reason we read, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36). Men may boast that they are free agents, with a will of their own, and are at liberty to do as they please, but Scripture says to those who boast “we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell…Ye ought to say, If the Lord will” (Jas. 4:13,15)!

Here then is a sure resting-place for the heart. Our lives are neither the product of blind fate nor the result of capricious chance, but every detail of them was ordained from all eternity. and is now ordered by the living and reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission. “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps” (Prov. 16:9). What assurance, what strength, what comfort should this give the real Christian! “My times are in Thy hand” (Ps. 31:15). Then let me “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Ps. 37:7).

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*TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen, Editor-Publisher Copyright: Selections from God’s Attributes & Devotions From The Heart ©1984-2017