Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Verbum Domini 1.5: What is the true God like?

THE BIBLE SHOWS US GOD'S NATURE
For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed (Malachi 3:6).
God is unchanging; eternal.
But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).
God is omnipotent (all-powerful).
He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep" (John 21:17).
for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything (1 John 3:20).
God is omniscient (all-knowing).
"Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
God is omnipresent (present everywhere).
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy (Leviticus 19:2).
God is holy.
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness . . . (Exodus 34:6).
God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger (patient), always loving, and always faithful.
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).
God is love ("loving").
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
God is faithful, just, and forgiving.

DOES GOD WANT TO SAVE ALL OR ONLY SOME?
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:1-2).
God wants ALL people to be saved.

ONE GOD, OR THREE?
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one (Deuteronomy 6:4).
The word translated as "God" here is "Elohiym"; literally "gods." The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge states regarding this verse:
Simeon ben Joachi says: "Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim. There are three degrees, and each degree is by itself alone, and yet they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other."
This parallels part of the explanation of the Trinity in the Athanasian Creed:
And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance . . . .
"Elohiym" is found also at the Creation:
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26).
(Some try to argue that "elohiym" used here is the royal "We" or that God is speaking to the angels. The latter doesn't fit at all, since God and the angels would be creating Man in their image and likeness.)
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
(New Advent notes regarding this passage:
The phrase "in the name" (eis to onoma) affirms alike the Godhead of the Persons and their unity of nature. Among the Jews and in the Apostolic Church the Divine name was representative of God. He who had a right to use it was invested with vast authority: for he wielded the supernatural powers of Him whose name he employed. It is incredible that the phrase "in the name" should be here employed, were not all the Persons mentioned equally Divine. Moreover, the use of the singular, "name," and not the plural, shows that these Three Persons are that One Omnipotent God in whom the Apostles believed. Indeed the unity of God is so fundamental a tenet alike of the Hebrew and of the Christian religion, and is affirmed in such countless passages of the Old and New Testaments, that any explanation inconsistent with this doctrine would be altogether inadmissible.)
Here Christ names the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Baptism.
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:22-26).
And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory" (Isaiah 6:3)!
Just as with "elohiym," we see again the use of three in YHWH's blessing His people and in describing His nature.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Here the Apostle Paul names the Trinity in his benediction.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17).
In Christ's baptism, we see all three Persons of the Trinity present.

REVIEW
YHWH reveals Himself as one God, three Persons. The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. All three are called "God," all three do the acts of God, and the characteristics of God apply to each equally.

Christians use the word "triune" to describe God: "Tri" means "three," "une" means "one." "Trinity" is the "Three-One."

The Church has summarized its understanding of YHWH in three major creeds, the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian. Here is the Athanasian Creed, from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library:
Athanasian Creed
1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic[*] faith;

2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.
*"catholic" means "universal"