We are going to begin a short series on the Trinity and this is admittedly a deep subject.
It is needed in many different ways.
The Church is forgetting its history and losing core doctrines that are not negotiable. Heresy is common in pulpits in America and many pastors are teaching false ideas about God.
But beyond that, anytime you really deal with the person of God you are in deep water. But it is of infinite value to anyone who takes the time to press into the person of God.
The study of God is the highest work any man or woman here could do. It is also the biggest task you could undertake since He alone is eternal and infinite.
The past several decades have witnessed an unprecedented dumbing down of the average Christian in this country. There is a real vacuum with regard to whom God is and into that vacuum has rushed experiential opinion rather than divinely revealed truth.
When we ignore the biblical self-revelation of God we become idolaters for we worship a god who does not exist. We wish we could convince people of this for we fear for many who treat God in such a shoddy manner.
The grand sin according to Romans 1 is that though the world does not give thanks to God nor honor Him as God it is not through ignorance, for He has made Himself known.
So why study and contemplate God?
Spurgeon said this (Knowing God, p. 13-14),
“the proper study [for] any Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can encompass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go our way with the thought, ‘Behold I am wise..’ But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away . . . and with solemn exclamation, ‘I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.’ No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe . . . the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity.”
Here is what is mind-blowing; those words were spoken by a man who was only 20 years old.
But the legacy of C.H. Spurgeon continues to this day. Not because he was great, but because his God was great.
So in light of that, where we have to begin is by understanding that God isn’t a finite person - something that we can get our arms and minds comfortably around.
He is, by His very nature, infinite. This reality tells us that as we examine Him that we will at times become exasperated as we’re trying to get a grasp of His greatness.
The result is that there are often moments where you are considering the biblical revelation of God and you are left with questions. It is wise to become comfortable with questions when you consider God. Many times bad or false doctrine arises because you try to answer something that is not explained in the bible.
To put it succinctly: we should be very uncomfortable when we consider God.
At the same time, we can’t think that because God is infinite that we can’t know Him at all. He has revealed Himself. In Acts 17 Paul tells the Athenian philosophers that they are to seek after Him.
We can know Him, and He’s knowable. But the key to understand is that He’s revealed Himself in the Bible and through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Having said that, frankly we can spend the rest of our lives pursuing an ever expanding knowledge of God if we were to set our hearts and minds to it [e.g., eph. 2].
We recently came out of period in the American church where it was cool to say that we can’t really “know” God. This was due to the rise of post-modernism. But the bible would disagree. A simple example is Galatians 4:8-9 talks about how we did not know God prior to faith but now we both know Him and are known by Him.
What should be our motives in considering God?
The Westminster Catechism says that the primary purpose of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. This is our first motive.
That is to be our goal and our motive.
We don’t need more knowledge, for knowledge’s sake, for Paul tells us that knowledge merely puffs us up. We become arrogant, irritating people who are good for nothing.
We must go beyond the mere theology of God, and contemplate the person of God.
That can be frightening.
Most of us can comfortably study the person of our president, prime minister, or the Queen of England During that study we would enjoy it, feel that we are quite wise and understanding, and perhaps even look down upon the person.
Yet, if we were given an opportunity to meet with them face to face, we would have a whole different attitude, and anxiety would be very prominent. We don’t have to like them, there is just the fact that they possess tremendous power and authority among men.
It is even more true of the person of God.
As we look at His attributes, the things that make Him God, we have the choice of holding Him back at a comfortable distance, making Him nothing more than a mere ghost of a god, or, we can embrace Him, honor Him, pray to Him, obey Him, and proclaim Him, as He truly is to those around us.
We cannot reject or discard those attributes that do not fit our perception of God.
David, as he wrote the Psalms, was writing the hymnal for the people of God. Notice the songs he wrote.
Notice the flavor and aroma that they give off. You won’t find a casual, flippant attitude.
You will find a desire to exalt the person of God and the way he does it is by proclaiming God’s attributes.
Psalm 9:1-2 “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Thy wonders. I will be glad and exult in Thee; I will sing praise to Thy name, O Most High.”
David’s words to his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9 “As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.”
It would be wonderful if we would all echo the words of David in Psalm 66:1, “Come and hear, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul.”
Psalm 108 1-5 (note “for” in vs. 4) "My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre; I will awaken the dawn! 3 I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD, among the peoples; And I will sing praises to Thee among the nations. 4 For Thy lovingkindness is great above the heavens; And Thy truth reaches to the skies. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, And Thy glory above all the earth."
The word “lovingkindness" is hesed and is translated many ways in the English.
It is a very full word.
One part of the meaning of the word is the keeping of a covenant. There is a faithfulness to the covenant that was made.
Therefore, when the bible speaks of God’s lovingkindness never ceasing, it means that God will never fail in any of His covenants made with man.
There is, therefore, great hope in the steadfastness of God’s character. He can be trusted.
Another part of it speaks of the idea that it is a decision or act that is based off of His absolute freedom. In other words, it is an act of grace.
The bible speaks of God showing lovingkindness to those who do not deserve it.
The N.T. term for lovingkindness is usually ‘grace.’
So when we again consider God we must understand that what God promises He keeps. You can bank on it. But also understand that it is freely given. It exists out of a framework of His kindness to us, sinners.
"Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance."
Giver of good things.
"Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to Thee. Do not hide Thy face from me in the day of my distress; Incline Thine ear to me; In the day when I call answer me quickly. For my days have been consumed in smoke, And my bones have been scorched like a hearth. My heart has been smitten like grass and has withered away, Indeed, I forget to eat my bread. Because of the loudness of my groaning My bones cling to my flesh. I resemble a pelican of the wilderness; I have become like an owl of the waste places. I lie awake, I have become like a lonely bird on a housetop. My enemies have reproached me all day long; Those who deride me have used my name as a curse. For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, Because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath; For Thou hast lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a lengthened shadow; And I wither away like grass. But Thou, O LORD, dost abide forever; And Thy name to all generations. Thou wilt arise and have compassion on Zion; For it is time to be gracious to her, For the appointed time has come. Surely Thy servants find pleasure in her stones, And feel pity for her dust. So the nations will fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth Thy glory. For the LORD has built up Zion; He has appeared in His glory. He has regarded the prayer of the destitute, And has not despised their prayer."
Notice the difficult state of David.
God’s wrath (10).
Notice that knowledge of who God is caused David to respond in a specific manner. You will find this consistent throughout the Bible. We do not learn about God for only knowledge’s sake, but so that we can more rightly glorify Him.
It is the duty of each believer to seek to know their God and it is a worthwhile task. Obedience is the second motive.
Jeremiah 9:23 "Thus says the LORD, 'Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the LORD."
Hosea 6:6 "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. True knowledge of God gives eternal life. This is our third motive."
John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
This knowledge is far more than merely an intellectual knowledge. By this I mean it is not merely speaking of notitia (the base facts) and assensus (the agreement/assent to those facts). But also fiducia.
The Bible talks about a “full assurance of hope.” A “true knowledge of Christ.” A “full assurance of understanding.” A “full assurance of faith.”
That is what is meant by the word Fiducia.
This is a positive disposition, heart attitude about what you believe it. It is much more than merely agreeing to the facts of something. There is a gripping of your heart toward it. There is a passion, even a love for it.
So as we prepare to consider the mystery of God’s triune nature in these next episodes, we are called to not merely seek facts, not merely agree with those facts, but also to glory and relish the Person who is revealed.