“Christ is full of both” by Herman Bavinck

“Truth and grace go together because Christ is full of both (John 1:14).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1909/2019), 394.

“He is a blessed and glorious God” by Herman Bavinck

“The Lord will perfect that which concerns His people, for His mercy endures forever (Ps. 138:8). The Lord is merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death (Ps. 48:14).

He is a blessed and glorious God (1 Tim. 6:15 and Eph. 1:17). And blessed is the people whose God is the Lord (Ps. 33:12).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1956/2019), 124-125.

“God is the Sun of being and all creatures are His fleeting rays” by Herman Bavinck

“All that can be found in the whole world in the way of support and shelter and aid is originally and perfectly to be found in overflowing abundance in God. Of Him the whole family in heaven and earth is named (Eph. 3:15). He is the Sun of being and all creatures are His fleeting rays.

It is important, therefore, in this matter of the knowledge of God, for us to keep a firm hold on both of these groups of statements concerning the Divine being and to do justice to each of them. For if we sacrifice the absolute transcendence of God above all of His creatures, we fall into polytheism (the pagan religion of many gods) or pantheism (the religion in which everything is God), two false religions which, according to the lesson of history, are closely related to each other and easily pass from the one into the other.

And if we sacrifice the close relationship of God to His creatures, we go aground on the reef of deism (belief in God without benefit of revelation) or of atheism (the denial of the existence of God), two religions which like those others have numerous characteristics in common with each other. Scripture clings to both groups of characteristics, and Christian theology has followed in its wake.

God actually does not have a name according to which we can truly name Him, and He names Himself and lets us name Him with many many names. He is the infinitely Exalted One, and at the same time the One who lives along with all His creatures.

In a certain sense all of His attributes are such as cannot be shared, and in another sense they are such as can all be shared. We cannot fathom this with our mind. There is no such thing as an adequate concept of God.

There is no one who can give a definition, a delimitation, of God that is adequate to His being. The name which fully expresses what He is cannot be found. But the one group of characteristics outlined above does not conflict with the other.

Precisely because God is the High and Exalted One, and lives in eternity, He also dwells with those who are of a contrite and humble Spirit (Isa. 57:15). We know that God did not reveal Himself in order that we should draw up a philosophical concept of God from His revelation, but in order that we should accept Him, the true, living God, as our God, and should acknowledge and confess Him. These things are hidden from the wise and prudent, but they have been revealed to babes (Matt. 11:25).

The knowledge which we get of God by way of His revelation is therefore a knowledge of faith. It is not adequate, in the sense that it is not equivalent to the being of God, for God is infinitely exalted above all His creatures.

Such knowledge is not purely symbolical either—that is to say, couched in expressions which we have arbitrarily formed and which do not correspond to any reality; instead this knowledge is ectypal (ectype: an impression as in printing) or analogical (analogy: correspondence or similarity in form) because it is based on the likeness and relationship which, notwithstanding God’s absolute majesty, nevertheless exists between God and all the works of His hand.

The knowledge which God grants us of Himself in nature and in Scripture is limited, finite, fragmentary, but it is nevertheless true and pure. Such is God as He has revealed Himself in His Word and specifically in and through Christ; and He alone is such as our hearts require.”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1956/2019), 116-117.

“Every attribute is His being” by Herman Bavinck

“We as human beings can make a distinction between the being and the attributes of people. A human being can lose his arm or his leg, or, in a state of sleep or illness, lose consciousness without ceasing to be human.

But in God this is impossible. His attributes coincide with His being. Every attribute is His being. He is wise and true, not merely, good and holy, just and merciful, but He is also wisdom, truth, goodness, holiness, justice, and mercy.

Hence He is also the source and fount of all the attributes of man. He is everything that He possesses and is the source of everything that creatures possess. He is the abundant source of all goods…

The name of God originally and essentially belongs to God alone. It is with that name that we always associate an idea of a being who is personal, indeed, but who is also a power raised high above all creatures and eternal in kind.

It is as such that He possesses the incommunicable attributes. They are peculiar and proper to Him alone, are not found in creatures, and cannot even be shared with creatures. For all creatures are dependent, changeable, composite, and subject to time and space.

But God is independent in the sense that He is determined by nothing and everything else is determined by Him (Acts 17:25 and Rom. 11:36).

He is unchangeable so that He eternally remains the same, and all variableness and turning are owing to the creature and the relationship in which the creature places himself over against God (James 1:17).

He is simple, not composite, wholly free of all compounding of spirit and matter, thought and extent, being and properties, reason and will, and like components, and all that He has also is pure truth and life and light.

He is eternal in that He transcends time and yet penetrates every moment of time with His eternity (Ps. 90:2).

And He is omnipresent in that He transcends all space and yet bears up every point of space by His almighty and ever-present strength.”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1956/2019), 118, 119.

“He is an immeasurable and unbounded ocean of being” by Herman Bavinck

“God must always be God, distinct from and above all things, the Creator and Ruler of all that exists, on whom believers can rely in times of distress and death, or else God can no longer be God to them.

As such God is the strictly independent and only absolute being. This is what the concept of absoluteness meant in the past. ‘Absoluteness’ was not obtained by abstraction, deprived of all content, and the most general kind of being, but true, unique, infinitely full being, precisely because it was absolute, that is, independent being, belonging only to itself and self-existence. Absolute is that which is not dependent on anything else.

From ancient times Christian theology connected this view and description of God with the meaning of the name YHWH as that is given in Exodus 3:14. Now people can disagree on the question whether the concept of ‘absolute being’ is implied in the name YHWH, and we will expressly revisit it in the following section.

In any case it is certain that the unicity, His distinctness from, and His absolute superiority over, all creatures is highlighted throughout Scripture. However much He is able to descend to the level of creatures, specifically humans—represented as He is as walking in the garden, coming down to earth to see the city and tower of Babel (etc.)—nevertheless He is the Creator of heaven and earth.

He speaks and things come to be; He commands and they stand forth. From everlasting to everlasting He is God, the First and the Last, from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things (Gen. 1:1ff.; Ps. 33:6, 9; 90:2; Isa. 41:4; 43:10–13; 44:6; 48:12; John 5:26; Acts 17:24ff.; Rom. 11:36; Eph. 4:6; Heb. 2:10; Rev. 1:4, 8; 4:8, 11; 10:6; 11:17; etc.).

Stated or implied in this biblical teaching is all that Christian theology intended to say with its description of God’s essence as absolute being. God is the real, the true being, the fullness of being, the sum total of all reality and perfection, the totality of being, from which all other being owes its existence.

He is an immeasurable and unbounded ocean of being; the absolute being who alone has being in Himself. Now, this description of God’s being deserves preference over that of personality, love, fatherhood, and so forth, because it encompasses all God’s attributes in an absolute sense.

In other words, by this description God is recognized and confirmed as God in all His perfections. These attributes cannot, of course, be logically developed from the concept of absolute being, for what God is and what His attributes are can only be known by us from His revelation in nature and Scripture.

Yet all these attributes are only divine characteristics because they pertain to God in a unique and absolute sense. Hence, in that respect aseity may be called the primary attribute of God’s being.

We can even say—on the basis of God’s revelation, not by means of a priori reasoning—that along with His aseity all those attributes have to be present in God that nature and Scripture make known to us.

If God is God, the only, eternal, and absolute Being, this implies that He possesses all the perfections, a faint analogy of which can be discerned in His creatures. If God is the absolutely existing being, He is also absolute in wisdom and goodness, in righteousness and holiness, in power and blessedness.

As One who exists of and through and unto Himself, He is the fullness of being, the independent and supremely perfect Being.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation (vol. 2; Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 123–124.

“We owe God a love more for what He is in Himself, than for what He is to us” by Stephen Charnock

“We owe God a love for what He is in Himself; and more for what He is, than for what He is to us.

God is more worthy of our affections because He is the eternal God, than because He is our Creator; because He is more excellent in His nature than in His transient actions.

The ‘Ancient of Days’ is to be served before all that are younger than Himself.

As God is infinite, He hath right to a boundless service; as He is eternal, He hath right to a perpetual service.

If God be infinite and eternal, He merits an honour and comportment from His creatures suited to the unlimited perfection of His nature, and the duration of His being. How worthy is the psalmist’s resolution, ‘I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have any being,’ (Ps. 104:33).

It is the use he makes of the endless duration of the glory of God, and will extend to all other service as well as praise. To serve other things, or to serve ourselves, is to waste a service upon that which is nothing.

In devoting ourselves to God, we serve Him that is;

–we serve Him that was, so as that He never began;

–we serve Him that is to come, so as that He never shall end;

–we serve Him by whom all things are what they are;

–and we serve Him who hath both eternal knowledge to remember our service and eternal goodness to reward it.”

–Stephen Charnock, “The Eternity of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, in The Works of Stephen Charnock, Vol. 1 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1681/2010), 1: 373.