“An infallible interpretation” by Richard Barcellos

“Let us consider Genesis 1:2 once again.

While Genesis 1:2 says, ‘And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,’ Psalm 104:24 says, ‘O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions–‘ and in Ps. 104:30 we read, ‘You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth.’

In Job 26:13 we read, ‘By His Spirit He adorned the heavens.’

These texts (and there are others) outside of Genesis echo it and further explain it to and for us. These are instances of inner-biblical exegesis within the Old Testament.

When the Bible exegetes the Bible, therefore, we have an infallible interpretation because of the divine author of Scripture.

Scripture not only records the acts of God, it also interprets them. If we are going to explain the acts of God in creation, God’s initial economy, with any hope of accurately accounting for those acts, we must first know something of the triune God who acts.

And the only written source of infallible knowledge of the triune God who acts is the Bible and the Bible alone.”

–Richard C. Barcellos, Trinity and Creation: A Scriptural and Confessional Account (Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2020), 23.

“Gentler than all gentleness” by Heinrich Bullinger

“What can you fitly think of God,
He that is above all loftiness,
higher than all height,
deeper than all depth,
lighter than all light,
clearer than all clearness,
brighter than all brightness,
stronger than all strength,
more virtuous than all virtue,
fairer than all fairness,
truer than all truth,
greater than all greatness,
mightier than all might,
richer than all riches,
wiser than all wisdom,
more liberal than all liberality,
better than all goodness,
juster than all justice,
and gentler than all gentleness?

For all kinds of virtues must needs be less than He, that is the Father and God of all virtues: so that God may truly be said to be such a certain Being, as to which nothing may be compared.

For He is above all that may be spoken.”

–Heinrich Bullinger, Fiftie Godlie and Learned Sermons, Divided Into Five Decades, Containing The chiefe and principall points of Christian Religion, written in three severall Tomes or Sections (trans. H.I.; London: Ralph Newberie, 1587), 606-607. As quoted in Samuel D. Renihan, Deity and Decree (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing: 2020), 26-27.

“God has life in Himself” by J.I. Packer

“Children sometimes ask, ‘Who made God?’ The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because He was always there.

He exists in a different way from us: we, His creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way— necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in Him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever.

We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is His eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator.

God’s self-existence is a basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the world’s Creator, ‘is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else’ (Acts 17:23–25).

Sacrifices offered to idols, in today’s tribal religions as in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the Creator needs no such support system.

The word aseity, meaning that He has life in Himself and draws His unending energy from Himself (a se in Latin means ‘from Himself’), was coined by theologians to express this truth, which the Bible makes clear (Pss. 90:1–4; 102:25–27; Isa. 40:28–31; John 5:26; Rev. 4:10).

In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God. The doctrine of His aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes.

In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stands as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1–7), and grasping the truth of His aseity is the first step on the road to doing this.”

–J.I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 26-27.

“There is none greater than this God” by Matthew Barrett

“This book is meant to fill the house with good theology proper, the type that will keep the demons away for good (Matt. 12:45).

That means dispensing with the modern theologian’s agenda to create a God in our own image, a God whose immanence has swallowed His transcendence, a God that can be controlled by the creature because He is not that different from the creature.

But it also means filling the house with a biblical understanding of God as the One who is, as Isaiah said, ‘high and lifted up’ (Isa. 6:1), whose attributes remain undomesticated. He is the God Jeremiah confessed, saying, ‘There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is great in might,’ (Jer. 10:6).

There is none greater than this God, not because He is merely a greater version of ourselves but because He is nothing like ourselves.”

–Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), xvi.

“He is completely unlike us in every way” by Paul David Tripp

“Our hope is not found in understanding why God allowed suffering into our lives.

Our hope is not found in the belief that somehow we will tough our way through.

Our hope is not found in doctors, lawyers, pastors, family, or friends.

Our hope is not found in our resilience or ingenuity.

Our hope is not found in ideas or things.

Though we may look to all those for temporary help, ultimately our hope rests in the faithful and gracious presence of the Lord with us.

He is not weakened by what weakens us.

He is not confused by what confuses us.

He does not suffer from the mood swings that afflict us.

He is not afraid like we are.

He never makes a bad decision.

He never finds Himself out of control.

He never wants to take back His words.

He never regrets the way He’s behaved.

He never responds impulsively.

His choices are never driven by anxiety.

He never dreads the next day.

He never wants to give up.

He is never frustrated by an inability to make a difference.

He is with us, but the reason this is so wonderfully comforting is that He is completely unlike us in every way.

He is limitless in power, He has authority over everything, He is perfect in every way, He dwells with us, and He assures us that He’s not leaving.”

–Paul David Tripp, Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 147-148.

“Christ is the content of Christianity” by Herman Bavinck

“In Christianity, Christ occupies a very different place than Buddha, Zarathustra, and Muhammad do in their respective religions. Christ is not the teacher, not the founder, but the content of Christianity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 284.

“The incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world” by Herman Bavinck

“The doctrine of Christ is not the starting point, but it certainly is the central point of the whole system of dogmatics. All other dogmas either prepare for it or are inferred from it.

In it, as the heart of dogmatics, pulses the whole of the religious-ethical life of Christianity. It is ‘the mystery of godliness’ (1 Tim. 3:16).

From this mystery all Christology has to proceed. If, however, Christ is the incarnate Word, then the incarnation is the central fact of the entire history of the world; then, too, it must have been prepared from before the ages and have its effects throughout eternity.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 274.

“He is the apex of unchanging beauty” by Herman Bavinck

“The pinnacle of beauty, the beauty toward which all creatures point, is God. He is supreme being, supreme truth, supreme goodness, and also the apex of unchanging beauty.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 254.

“God is His own blessedness” by Herman Bavinck

“The term ‘the blessed God’ (1 Timothy 1:11; 6:15) also implies, in the third place, that God absolutely delights in Himself, absolutely rests in Himself, and is absolutely self-sufficient.

His life is not a process of becoming, not an evolution, not a process of desiring and striving, as in the pantheistic life, but an uninterrupted rest, eternal peace.

God’s delight in His creatures is part and parcel of His delight in Himself. God is His own blessedness.”

–Herman Bavinck, Ed. John Bolt and trans. John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 251.

“The long-suffering of God is very wonderful” by Jonathan Edwards

“Love to God disposes men to imitate God and therefore disposes them to such long-suffering as He manifests. Long-suffering is often spoken of as one of the attributes of God.

Ex. 34:6: ‘And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’ Num. 14:18: ‘The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression,’ Rom. 2:4: ‘Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?’

The long-suffering of God is very wonderful. He bears innumerable injuries from men, and those which are very great.

If we consider the wickedness there is in the world, and then consider how God continues the world, does not destroy it, but is continually blessing it with innumerable streams of good, and supplying and supporting the world, how rich His daily bounties are to it, how He causes the sun to rise and shed forth his beams on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And if we consider the goodness of God to some particular populous cities, how vast the quantity of the fruits of God’s goodness is which is daily spent upon them, and consumed by them, and then consider what wickedness there was in these very cities, it will show us how amazingly great is His long-suffering.

And if we consider the same long-suffering has been manifest to very many particular persons, in all ages of the world. He is long-suffering to the sinners that He spares, and to whom He offers His mercy, even while they are rebelling against Him.

And especially if we consider God’s long-suffering towards His elect, many of whom live long in sin, and are great sinners, and God bears with them, yea, bears to the end, and finally is pleased to forgive, and never punishes them, but makes them the vessels of mercy and glory, and shows mercy to them even while enemies, as the apostle Paul takes notice it was with himself.

1 Tim. 1:13–16: ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering for a pattern, to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.’

A child’s love to his father disposes him to imitate his father, and especially does the love of God’s children dispose them to imitate their Heavenly Father.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits in Ethical Writings (ed. Paul Ramsey and John E. Smith; vol. 8; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1989), 8: 192–194.