Tag Archives: Infinite God

“The emotion we find most frequently attributed to Jesus during the course of his earthly ministry is mercy” by Mark Jones

“The emotion we find most frequently attributed to Jesus during the course of His earthly ministry is mercy.

Christ, anointed with the Spirit, “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

Jesus was often “moved with pity” toward others (Mark 1:41; see also Matt. 9:36; 14:14; 20:34).

But Christ extended mercy not simply toward people in their physical or spiritual suffering (e.g., demon possession); he showed pity toward the whole person (Mark 6:34). He sought ways to be merciful.

Very often in the Christian life, we are too reactionary, always having to respond to situations and then not as we should. One way for us to respond better comes through understanding our holy Savior’s mercy to us and pursuing Christian holiness.

These actions will lead us to show mercy to others and to relieve others of their physical and spiritual misery while treating them as whole people.

The Christian who has received mercy seeks to show it. Knowing includes experiencing. Indeed, Christ issues a rather startling command in his Sermon on the Mount concerning the need for us to show mercy: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

Thomas Watson quotes the early church father Ambrose as saying, “The sum and definition of religion is, Be rich in works of mercy, be helpful to the bodies and souls of others. Scatter your golden seeds; let the lamp of your profession be filled with the oil of charity. Be merciful in giving and forgiving.”

Here Ambrose understands our duty to the whole person: body and soul. God’s mercy and our mercy are not mere concepts or ideas but actions toward others.

In expressing spiritual mercy, we must show mercy to those who have sinned against us. Like our Father in heaven, we should be more willing to show mercy than the offender was willing to sin against us. Thomas Watson observes,

Thus Stephen the proto-martyr, “He kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60). When he prayed for himself he stood—but when he came to pray for his enemies, he kneeled down, to show, says Bernard, his earnestness in prayer and how greatly he desired that God would forgive them. This is a rare kind of mercy. “It is a man’s glory to pass over a transgression” (Proverbs 19:11). Mercy in forgiving injuries, as it is the touchstone, so the crown of Christianity. Cranmer was of a merciful disposition. If any who had wronged him came to ask a favor from him, he would do all that lay in his power for him, insomuch that it grew to a proverb: “Do Cranmer an injury and he will be your friend as long as he lives.” To “overcome evil with good,” and answer malice with mercy is truly heroic, and renders piety glorious in the eyes of all.

In sum, ‘Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful’ (Luke 6:36).”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 154–155.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Glorification, Jesus Christ, Mercy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“He will never leave us” by Garry J. Williams

“As God, the Son is omnipresent in his divine essence. As man, the same Son is present in just one place at a time, now at the right hand of God the Father (Heb. 1:3). In his speech in Acts 7 Stephen defends himself from the charge that he denounced the temple.

He does not deny that the temple was the dwelling place of God, but he does recount various ways in which God had met his people in other places before and beyond the temple, even on Gentile ground in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the wilderness.

Toward the end of his speech Stephen sees heaven itself opened and Christ standing at the right hand of the Father. He is the new temple (John 2:18–22), the dwelling place of God, now in the heavenly home of God’s glory. There is a new place where God dwells, and it is in the heavenly Jesus.

Given this, how could Jesus himself promise his disciples, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20)? If he is in heaven, and heaven is the place of glory, how can he be with us here below in the goodness and grace of his human nature?

John Calvin puts the answer beautifully: “The coming of the Spirit and the ascent of Christ are antithetical.” When Christ ascends, he sends the Holy Spirit down to be with us.

Because the Spirit is his Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9), he mediates Christ’s presence to us. The Son is with us to the end of the age by the Spirit.

Does this then mean that we always have our Brother with us, but not our Father? Do we have only the goodness and grace of the Son with us but not the goodness and grace of the Father?

Is God the Father ever-present with us only in his essence (as he is present even to the lost), but not as our loving Father? This does not follow, because as the Son is present in his goodness and grace by the Spirit, so the Father is present in his goodness and grace by the Son.

The Spirit makes the Son present to us, and in doing that makes the Father present to us as well, because the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father (John 14:10).

The persons of the Godhead indwell one another, so that by having the Son in us by the Spirit, we have the Father in us by the Son.

Our Brother and Father together come to dwell in us: “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

Because the Son has promised us that he will never leave, we have the same assurance from the Father, who is in him.”

–Garry J. Williams, His Love Endures Forever: Reflections on the Immeasurable Love of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 90–91.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Glorification, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Redemption itself is a glaring instance of the mercy of God” by John Gill

“Mercy is displayed only in and through Christ. God outside of Christ is a consuming fire. It is only in Christ God proclaims His name, ‘a God gracious and merciful.’ (Ex. 34:6)

Christ is the mercy-seat, and throne of grace, at which men obtain mercy and find grace. He is the channel through which it flows, and through whom it, in its effects, is conveyed to the sons of men.

Redemption itself is a glaring instance of the mercy of God. Mercy resolved upon the redemption and salvation of the elect.

Being viewed as fallen in Adam, and as sinners, mercy provided a Redeemer and Saviour of them, and laid their help upon Him.

And mercy called Christ to undertake the work of redemption, and engaged Him in it.

Mercy sent Him in the fulness of time, to visit them, and perform it.

Mercy delivered Him up into the hands of justice and death, in order to obtain it, and it is most illustriously glorified in it.

Mercy and truth have met together, (Psalm 85:10), yea, Christ Himself, in His love and pity, has redeemed His people, (Isa. 63:9).

Complete salvation, and eternal life itself, flow from the mercy of God. He saves, ‘not by works of righteousness, but according to His mercy,’ (Titus 3:5).”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, London: Tegg & Company, 1767/1839), 1: 125, 127, 128.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Communion with God, Doctrine of God, God's Excellencies, Jesus Christ, John Gill, Mercy, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“God is infinitely perfect, infinitely blessed and happy” by John Gill

“God is infinite in all His attributes; and which are indeed, Himself, His nature, as has been observed, and are separately considered by us, as a relief to our mind, and helps to our better understanding it. And, perhaps, by observing some of these distinctly, we may have a clearer idea of the infinity of God.

His understanding is infinite, as is expressly said Psalm 147:5, it reaches to and comprehends all things that are, though ever so numerous; to the innumerable company of angels in the highest heavens; to the innumerable stars in the lower ones; to the innumerable inhabitants of the earth, men, beasts, and fowl; and to the innumerable creatures that swim in the sea; yea, not only to all that are in being but to all things possible to be made, which God could have made if He would; these he sees and knows in His eternal mind, so that there is no searching of His understanding, (Isa. 40:28), there is no end of it, and therefore infinite.

The same may be said of His knowledge and wisdom, there is a βαθος, a depth, the apostle ascribes to both; and which is not to be sounded by mortals, (Rom. 11:33); He is a God of knowledge, or knowledges, of all things that are knowable, (1 Sam. 2:3), He is the only and the all-wise God; and in comparison of Him the wisdom of the wisest of creatures, the angels, is but folly, (Job 4:18).

The power of God is infinite; with Him nothing is impossible; His power has never been exerted to the uttermost; He that has made one world, could have made millions; there is no end of His power, and His making of that, proves His eternal power, that is, His infinite power; for nothing but infinite power could ever have made a world out of nothing, (Rom. 1:20, Heb. 11:3).

His goodness is infinite, He is abundant in it, the earth is full of it, all creatures partake of it, and it endures continually; though there has been such a vast profusion of it from the beginning of the world, in all ages, it still abounds: there is no end of it, it is infinite, it is boundless; nor can there be any addition to it; it is infinitely perfect, (Psalm 16:2).

God is infinite in His purity, holiness, and justice: there is none holy as He is; or pure and righteous, with Him; in comparison of Him, the most holy creatures are impure, and cover themselves before Him, (Job 4:17, 18, Isa. 6:2, 3).

In short, He is infinitely perfect, and infinitely blessed and happy. We rightly give Him titles and epithets of immense and incomprehensible, which belong to His infinity. He is immense, that is, unmeasurable; He measures all things, but is measured by none; who can take His dimensions? They are as high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? If the heavens above cannot be measured, and the foundations of the earth beneath cannot be searched out, how should He be measured or searched out to perfection that made all these? (Job 11:7–9, Jer. 31:37)

As there is an immeasurable height, depth, length and breadth in the love of God, (Eph. 3:18), so there is in every attribute of God, and consequently in His nature. His immensity is His magnitude, and of His greatness it is unsearchable, (Psalm 145:3), and therefore, upon the whole, must be incomprehensible.

His greatness not only cannot be comprehended and circumscribed by space, or in place, for the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him; but He is not to be comprehended by finite minds, that cannot conceive of Him as He is; His omniscience is too wonderful for them, and the thunder of His power who can understand? (Job 26:14)

Something of Him may be apprehended, but His nature and essence can never be comprehended, no not in a state of perfection; sooner may all the waters of the ocean be put into a nutshell, than that the infinite Being of God should be comprehended by angels or men, who are finite creatures.”

–John Gill, A Complete Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity: Or A System of Evangelical Truths, Deduced from the Sacred Scriptures (vol. 1, London: Tegg & Company, 1767/1839), 1: 60-61.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Blessedness, Christian Theology, Communion with God, Doctrine of God, God's Excellencies, Jesus Christ, John Gill, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“He cannot give a greater Son to us” by Stephen Charnock

“In God’s giving Christ to be our Redeemer, He gave the highest gift that it was possible for divine goodness to bestow. As there is not a greater God than Himself to be conceived, so there is not a greater gift for this great God to present to His creatures.

And though He could create millions of worlds for us, He cannot give a greater Son to us.

When God intended in redemption the manifestation of his highest goodness, it could not be without the donation of the choicest gift.

As when He would ensure our comfort He swears ‘by Himself,’ because He cannot ‘swear by a greater,’ (Heb. 6:13), so when He would ensure our happiness He gives as His Son, because He cannot give a greater, being equal with Himself.

Had the Father given Himself in person, He had given one first in order, but not greater in essence and glorious perfections.

The wounds of an Almighty God for us are a greater testimony of goodness than if we had all the other riches of heaven and earth.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse on the Goodness of God,” The Existence and Attributes of God, The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 2 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 2: 324-325.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Communion with God, Doctrine of God, Doxology, God's Excellencies, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Stephen Charnock, The Gospel

“God’s Name” by Mark Jones

“We can learn about God by understanding the meaning of His name as revealed in Scripture. His name is identical with His attributes in terms of how He manifests them to us in His Word.

God does not need a proper name. His self-appointed name describes Him not as He exists within himself but as He reveals himself and relates to His creatures. Thus, by using names, God accommodates Himself to His creatures and reveals Himself to us.

God’s names function as a synonym for His character, the sum of His attributes (Ex. 20:7; Ps. 8:1). Correspondingly, to know His name is to know Him (Ex. 6:3). While they are anthropomorphic, these names do not originate with humanity, as if we were in any position to name God.

Rather, these names disclose to us God’s personal existence, His attributes, and His glorious being. Although nameless within himself, God in His revelation has many names. We have chosen to focus on just one in this chapter, the “LORD,” or Yahweh (sometimes also referred to as Jehovah or YHWH), which is used roughly five thousand times in the Old Testament.

The etymology of Yahweh has been discussed a great deal through the course of church history, with no firm consensus on all the details. Coming from the root hwy or hyh (meaning “to be, be at hand, exist, come to pass”), the name of God may be understood in light of God’s works rather than the name’s sheer etymology. To ask for God’s name is to ask for His character:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” (Ex. 3:13–14)

With the revelation of His “name,” we must remember that no one name can fully reveal who God is. Nevertheless, this revelation tells us a great deal about God. Yahweh reveals His nature, particularly that He is not only self-existent (“I am”) but also unchangeable (“I will be what I will be”). God’s immutability (i.e., unchangeability) carried no small consequence for the Israelites, who depended on his covenant faithfulness. This proclamation was the high point of God’s revelation up to that time in redemptive history.

In the context of Exodus, the name Yahweh points to His covenant faithfulness: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Ex. 6:7; see also 3:7–9, 13–14; 6:1). His name also reveals His sovereignty and glory: “that they may know that you alone, whose name is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth” (Ps. 83:18). As the Lord, Yahweh is the everlasting, omniscient, omnipotent God:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable. (Isa. 40:28)

His name remains synonymous with his eternal being (Isa. 41:4; 44:6). As the Glorious One, Yahweh expresses jealousy for the worship of His people and the glory of His name: “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isa. 42:8).

His name can strike terror in hearts. Yahweh speaks in thunder and shoots lightning across the sky (Ex. 19:16–19; 20:18). He reveals His presence by fire (Ex. 13:21) and controls the elements of the earth, such as the sea (Ex. 14:21). Yet as noted above, Yahweh deals with his people as the God of the covenant. He creates and preserves all things, but in a special way, He sustains His people according to His promises to them. Thus, the name Yahweh is peculiarly significant to God’s people because it represents his covenant-keeping faithfulness toward them.

After Christ fulfilled the work that the Father gave him to do, God bestowed on Him the divine name:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)

The name is not explicitly given, but there is good reason to assume that it refers to Yahweh. Jesus has perfectly represented the Father on earth as “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). As such, He has the public authority to receive the highest blessing possible: the name above every name. What name could be higher than Yahweh and all that it means?

Not only Paul but also John uses language from Isaiah that enforces this basic theological point about Christ’s exalted status. In Isaiah we read the following claims by Yahweh:

I, the LORD, the first,
and with the last; I am he. (Isa. 41:4)

I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god. (Isa. 44:6)

I am he; I am the first,
and I am the last. (Isa. 48:12)

Now look at John’s description of Jesus in Revelation:

Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. (Rev. 1:17–18)

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” (Rev. 2:8)

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. (Rev. 22:13)

As these passages in Revelation show, Jesus’s name speaks to His prerogatives as the immutable, eternal, and living God. The exalted Christ bears the name of Yahweh.

God names Himself to bless his people. He names Himself to instruct His people. God does not need to name Himself, but He chooses freely to condescend in order to give us knowledge of God’s being and his purposes toward us. Remarkably, while God does not need to name Himself, He does name His Son.

The God-man has the peculiar dignity of being recognized as Yahweh. In light of that truth, we can be as sure of Christ’s heart toward us as we can be of God’s heart toward the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt.

As the exalted Messiah and High Priest interceding in the heavenly places, Jesus is trustworthy. Christ’s purposes, and thus his teachings, remain the same toward believers. He is unchangeable in his purposes. Hence, the author of Hebrews assures his readers of this aspect of Christ’s ministry: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

If God is able to bestow a name on Jesus, he is also able to bestow a name on those who remain faithful to the end like Jesus did. In Revelation 2:17, we are told that believers will receive a new name. This promise extends to all of God’s faithful servants and is not limited to the immediate recipients of John’s letter.

To receive this new name is to receive Christ’s kingly name (Rev. 19:12–16). We are named in baptism, as we enter into a new relationship with God. At the end, we shall also receive a new name that will confirm to us our exalted status.

Without this new name, we will not enter into the new heavens and the new earth.”

–Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 91-95.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Glorification, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Whatsoever God is, He is infinitely so” by Stephen Charnock

“All the perfections of God are infinitely elevated above the excellencies of the creatures, above whatsoever can be conceived by the clearest and most piercing understanding.

The nature of God, as a Spirit, is infinitely superior to whatsoever we can conceive perfect in the notion of a created spirit.

Whatsoever God is, He is infinitely so.

He is infinite wisdom, infinite goodness, infinite knowledge, infinite power, infinite spirit, infinitely distant from the weakness of creatures, infinitely mounted above the excellencies of creatures.

As easy to be known that He is, as impossible to be comprehended what He is.

Conceive of Him as excellent, without any imperfection, as a Spirit without parts, as great without quantity, as perfect without quality, as everywhere without place, as powerful without members, as understanding without ignorance, as wise without reasoning, as light without darkness.

Conceive of Him as infinitely more excelling the beauty of all creatures, than the light in the sun pure and unviolated exceeds the splendour of the sun dispersed and divided through a cloudy and misty air.

And when you have risen to the highest, conceive Him yet infinitely above all you can conceive of spirit, and acknowledge the infirmity of your own minds.

And whatsoever conception comes into your minds, say, ‘This is not God. God is more than this.’

If I could conceive Him, He were not God, for God is incomprehensibly above whatsoever I can say, whatsoever I can think and conceive of Him.”

–Stephen Charnock, “A Discourse Upon God’s Being a Spirit,” The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 279.

1 Comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Communion with God, Doctrine of God, Doxology, God's Excellencies, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Stephen Charnock, The Gospel