Can man hope to have an adequate concept of God? Certainly we can never hope to understand comprehensively all of his perfections and attributes for we are finite. Nevertheless God has not left himself without a witness. It is both our privilege and duty to learn that which he has been pleased to reveal about himself.
We know only that which God has been pleased to reveal, and for sinful man this is overwhelmingly adequate.
To contemplate the attributes of God staggers the imagination, yet he has revealed himself for the very purpose that we might, although limited by the flesh, know him and glorify his name and distinguish between that which is true and false.
God has made it possible for us to know him through his general revelation in nature. Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” He reveals himself also in history and conscience.
He has revealed himself in his Son of whom we read in Colossians 2:8, 9: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
God reveals himself in his written Word. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto good works.”
In these various ways God’s marvelous attributes are revealed, being exercised by him in his works of creation, providence and redemption.
Why then the necessity of affirming, in a spirit of deepest reverence, that God is not deformed? Because in each generation, and particularly in our own, God is often presented in only one aspect of his personality or by only one attribute to the exclusion or depreciation of others. This narrow presentation causes God to be seen as though he were deformed; his glorious person is disclosed out of focus.
There are those who are so overwhelmed by the love of God and all of its implications that they overlook other attributes which are equally true and impelling. The depth and height and breadth of the love of God can never be exhausted, for he is the epitome of love and all that it implies.
He is also the God of holiness and justice. The Bible which tells us that God is love also affirms that he is a consuming fire. Therefore, to stress the love of God to the exclusion of his perfections in holiness and justice is to give a distorted picture.
The Cross of Jesus Christ reveals the love of God. But it reveals far more. The depths of sin, the magnitude of its offense against a holy God and the price necessary to free man from its guilt and penalty, all are revealed by the Cross. We see combined in one sublime act the love, truth, holiness, righteousness, mercy, faithfulness, justice, and knowledge of God, and having said this, all of its implications have not been exhausted. Let us never forget that in this glorious act of redemption and propitiation we see combined many aspects of the God with whom we have to do.
God is the God of infinite and absolute perfection. Being infinite he is free from all possible limitation. Being absolute he is an eternal self-existent person who is the voluntary cause of all that is, has been or ever will exist. He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” and he is “without variableness or shadow of turning.”
One may hear the seemingly wise statement: “God is too good to damn anyone,” and from this premise the deduction that therefore all men will some day be saved regardless of what they do about Christ, God’s provision for their need. Paul, in Romans, writes: “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.” The crux of the matter is that sin must be judged and God in his infinite love and justice has done something about it, sending his Son through whom man may be freed from the guilt and penalty of sin and restored to fellowship with Him now and forever.
If we would know God and the attributes whereby he is known we have but to turn to Holy Scripture. In both Old and New Testaments we find the same God. Some would distinguish between the “God of the Old Testament” and the “God of the New,” but they are the same. To discard the one for the other is to be guilty of a selective prejudice that leads to grave error.
For instance, in Isaiah we read: “Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” But the same God, speaking in the same book also says: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
We find the Lord Jesus Christ uttering this scathing denunciation: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” This same Christ also says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The apostle Paul denounces sin and the unrepentant sinner but offers pardon and peace to all who will turn to Christ in full repentance. The writer of the Epistle to Hebrews affirms God’s revelation through the prophets and the Son and presents a picture of escape and eternal salvation to those who believe.
Peter tells of the patience and longsuffering of a holy God unwilling that any souls be lost, but also of the day of impending judgment from which none who have rejected Christ shall escape.
No, God is not deformed. He is revealed to us in the perfections of his glorious attributes. It is his will that we should see him and believe in him for who he is and what he is.
We who are capable of love, feeling, knowing, righteous indignation, kindness, mercy and a sense of right and justice, should realize that in him all of these things are found in absolute perfection. He who knows no limitations of time, space or circumstance deals with mankind in perfect love and also perfect justice. He who is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and who cannot look on iniquity, has nonetheless made perfect provision for sin and the sinner. In all of this the perfection and absoluteness of his attributes are revealed to man.
No, God is not deformed. He is perfection, a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, truth and love.
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