I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things,
and of Christ Jesus,
who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach
until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which he will display at the proper time—
he who is the blessed and only Sovereign,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality,
who dwells in unapproachable light,
whom no one has ever seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
I Timothy 1:13-17
Click here for link to all of Westminster Shorter Catechism. This is the website where all this Scripture was compiled along with this question I am covering today.
Before we move on to the next phase of our study of GOD, I’d like to share a summary of GOD’s attributes that is brought out in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It is brief and concise. Sometimes that is very helpful! This definition of GOD will be helpful for you to read and meditate on along with the included Scripture. I hope you will be encouraged as you read it today.
Then we’ll move on to the communicable attributes next week. For some of you, this Catechism will be a helpful summary. I realize some of the language is older, but seeing something more concisely written along with the Scripture that goes with it can also be not only useful, but edifying as well. For me, the older language sticks in my head better than modern, everyday english…I have no idea why. I certainly don’t talk this way!
Sometimes, there is the sense that these people wrote it in a vacuum. Of course, they didn’t. They were immersed in Scripture in ways that few of us are in the United States today.
At the same time, they were being persecuted. The persecution and martyrdoms were equal opportunity persecuters. Both men AND women were murdered for their beliefs that were different from others who believed in similar ways. “All” (those who were murdering) they wanted was for these people to give lip service to the State Church.
Now do you understand where the desire to separate Church and State came from? It had nothing to do with leaving GOD off public buildings and money! It had to do with keeping government out of anything that smacked of a State Church…so a person could be “free” to worship in the way their conscience told them.
For more on this period, read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It is not for the faint of heart, but starts with the martyrdom of many of the apostles and the updated version I have goes through modern times (into the 2000’s). It gives us an appreciation for the price paid in blood for our faith that seems very cheap to many of us. In Bible College we were required to read 100 pages. It was difficult, but helpful to see that throughout the generations, men and women have paid dearly so that we would be able to worship freely.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism was written in 1647 by a group of English and Scottish men who put basic doctrine in 107 questions for people to memorize in order to learn doctrine. It was part of the English Reformation! The Heidelberg Confession was written nearly 100 years earlier in Germany. For the most part, the doctrine is similar.
Question #4: What is God?
Answer: God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,
in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
Infinite: 1 Kings 8:27, Psalm 139:7-10, Psalm 145:3, Psalm 147:5, Jeremiah 23:24, Romans 11:33-36: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! …For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Eternal: Deuteronomy 33:27. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Psalm 90:2, Psalm 102:12, 24-27, Revelation 1:4, 8.
Unchangeable: Psalm 33:11. Malachi 3:6. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.Hebrews 1:12. Hebrews 6:17-18. Hebrews 13:8. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. James 1:17.
His Being: Exodus 3:14. Psalm 115:2-3. 1 Timothy 1:17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 6:15-16.
Wisdom: Psalm 104:24. Romans 11:33-34. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Hebrews 4:13. John 3:20.
Power: Genesis 17:1. Psalm 62:11. Jeremiah 32:17. Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Matthew 19:26. Revelation 1:8.
Holiness:Hebrews 1:13. 1 Peter 1:15-16. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 John 3:3, 5. Revelation 15:4.
Justice: Genesis 18:25. Exodus 34:6-7. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Deuteronomy 32:4. Psalm 96:13. Romans 3:5, 26.
Goodness: Psalm 103:5. Psalm 107:8. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Matthew 19:7. Romans 2:4.
Truth: Exodus 34:6. Deuteronomy 32:4. Psalm 86:15. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalm 117:2. Hebrews 6:18.