CHAPTER 3-THE NAMES OF GOD
The aim of this volume is to better acquaint its readers with the true and living God. If any of our readers feel that the author is lopsided, and does not maintain the balance of truth by emphasizing the responsibility of man, we would remind him that our thesis is God, not man.
There are several sources of knowledge about God. The heavens and the earth, the things He has made, reveal His eternal power and Deity, and declare His glory. The human conscience also testifies to His existence, as do the laws of nature. But the Bible is the chief source of information about God in His character and work.
The various names and titles given to God in the Bible reveal much concerning His character and government. In the Bible the names of persons, places, and things are of great significance; the names were chosen because of their meaning! We give names to our children today without any thought of what the name means, and very often the name is not appropriate to the character that wears it. Many men have worn the name Jesus, but to only one Man, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, is the name appropriate. All the names of God in the Bible are most appropriate and much can be learned about Him through the study of His names.
The study of names given to persons and places in the Bible is so entrancing that we must pursue it a little further before coming to our main theme—-THE NAMES OF GOD. In the Bible names reveal the character of persons, and commemorate important events. To illustrate we are taking a number of names somewhat at random. At the battle of Aphek Israel was defeated by the Philistines, losing thirty thousand footmen; Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain; the ark of God was taken by the Philistines; and when the sad news came to the wife of Phinehas, giving her life in childbirth, on her death bed she named the child Ichabod, which means “inglorious,” thus signifying that the glory had departed from Israel: “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband” (#1Sa 4:21). The name Moses means “drawer out,” and was given him by Pharaoh’s daughter, as “she said, because I drew him out of the water” (#Ex 2:10). The name Samuel was given to the son of Elkanah and Hannah as a memorial to answered prayer. Samuel means “heard of God,” and was given him by his mother: “Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD” (#1Sa 1:20). The human name of Jesus was given to our Lord because it means “Jehovah saves.” When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph to quiet his fears and suspicions concerning his espoused wife, Mary, he announced the birth of a son, and said “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (#Mt 1:21). The name Abraham means “father of a multitude,” and was given to Abraham by God when He promised him a numerous progeny. “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (#Ge 17:5). Adam called the creature, taken from his side, woman: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (#Ge 2:23). When Adam and his wife became sinners by transgressing the law of God, the gospel was preached to them by God, the gospel that the seed of woman should bruise the serpent’s head: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (#Ge 3:15); whereupon, in faith, Adam named the woman Eve, which means “living,” “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (#Ge 3:20). Eve’s firstborn was named Cain, which means “acquired,” “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (#Ge 4:1). The word for man in the Hebrew is “ish,” which means a man of high degree, and it is probable that Eve believed Cain to be the promised Redeemer. If so, she was sadly disappointed, and when her next son was born, it must have been in a spirit of despair that she named him Abel, meaning “vanity or vapor.” When Samuel had defeated the Philistines on a field of battle between Mizpeh and Shen, he planted a stone on the very spot of victory and called it Ebenezer, meaning “the stone of help,” “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us” (1Sa 7:12).
THE NAMES OF GOD
Some names of God respect Him as subject: Jehovah, Lord, God; others are predicates, spoken of Him and attributed to Him: holy, just, good, etc. Some express the relations between the persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Spirit; and some express the relation of God to the creatures: Creator, Preserver, Governor, etc. Some names or titles are common to the three persons, as Jehovah, God, Father, Spirit. And some are proper names used to express His character and work.
The name of God is what He IS; it stands for His character. But the Creator is so great that no one name can possibly be adequate to His greatness. If the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him, how can a name describe the Creator? So the Bible contains a number of names of God which reveal Him in the several aspects of His marvelous personality.
ELOHIM (Pronounced El-lo-heem)
This is the first name of God in Scripture: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (#Ge 1:1).Here it is in the plural form with a singular verb, denoting plurality of persons in unity of essence or being. This name is expressive of God’s greatness and power. It is the creatorial name of God, and is used exclusively in the account of creation: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens “(#Ge 1:1-2:4). Elohim is always translated “God” in our English Bible. According to the prevailing opinion of scholars the word is derived from a root in the Arabic language which means to worship. Weight is given to this opinion when we observe that the word is sometimes used improperly of angels, of men, and of false deities. In #Ps 8:5 “For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” the word for angels is elohim, and angels are sometimes improperly worshipped. In #Ps 82:1,6: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods…I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” elohim is translated gods, and is used of men. Also in #Joh 10:34,35: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken”. In #Jer 10:10-12 “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.” we have the true God (elohim) in contrast with “the gods (elohim) that have not made the heavens and the earth,” thus implying that none but the Creator is the proper object of worship.
EL-SHADDAI (Pronounced el Shad-di)
This compound word is translated God Almighty (El for God and Shaddai for Almighty). The title EL is for God in the singular, and means strong or mighty. EL is translated God 250 times in the Old Testament. The title is generally connected with some attribute or perfection of God; as, “Almighty God”: “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him” (#Ge 17:3); “Everlasting God”: “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God” (#Ge 21:33); “A jealous God”: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (#Ex 20:5); “The living God”: “And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites” (#Jos 3:10).
SHADDAI, always translated Almighty, means sufficient or resourceful. It is thought the word comes from SHADDAY, meaning breasts. The word breast is used in the scriptures as an emblem of blessing and nourishment. In pronouncing his dying blessing upon Joseph, Jacob, among other things, said, “Even by the God (EL) of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty (Shaddai), who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:” (#Ge 49:25). Isaiah, describing the future excellency and blessings of Israel, says, “Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles (nations), and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob” (#Isa 60:16). The people of God shall draw upon the resources of nations and kings because their God is EL-SHADDAI the One mighty to bless.
Satan is a competitor of God and a counterfeiter of His works. Therefore, we may expect to find in heathen religions imitations of God in the several aspects of His character and government. This point is well illustrated in the following quotation taken from the book by Nathan J. Stone on the “Names of God in the Old Testament.”
“Such a conception of a god or deity was not uncommon to the ancients. The idols of the ancient heathen are sometimes termed sheddim in the Bible. It is no doubt because they were regarded as the great agents of nature or the heavens, in giving rain, in causing the earth to send forth its springs, to yield its increase, its fruits to maintain and to nourish life. There were many breasted idols worshipped among the heathen. One historian points out that ‘the whole body of the Egyptian goddess Isis was clustered over with breasts because all things are sustained or nourished by the earth or nature. “The same was true of the idol of the Ephesian goddess Diana in the nineteenth chapter of Acts, for Diana signified nature and the world with all its products.”
This name of God first appeared in connection with Abram: “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly” (#Ge 17:1,2). Years before and on different occasions, God promised Abram that He would make of him a great nation and a numerous progeny. The years came and passed and no child was born to Abram and Sarah. Then he resorted to that fleshly expedient which brought Ishmael and Mohammedanism into the world. And God’s promise was still unfulfilled. And now, according to the laws of nature, it is too late, Abram is ninety-nine and Sarah ninety. And then it was that God appeared to him as God- Almighty (EL-SHADDAI), and repeated the promise. And here it was that his name was changed from Abram to Abraham, meaning “father of many nations.” “Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee” (#Ge 17:5). Here was a staggering promise, but it did not stagger Abraham, “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;” (#Ro 4:20). Abraham’s strong faith was based upon this new revelation of God as God-Almighty (EL-SHADDAI). “And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb:” (#Ro 4:19). His thoughts were upon an All-sufficient God. Here is a fine illustration of the difference between nature’s law and nature’s God. The laws of nature could not produce an Isaac, but it was not too much for nature’s God. It matters not if everything is against God; He is all- sufficient in Himself.
ADONAI (Pronounced A-do-ni)
This name or title of God is in the plural, denoting a plurality of persons in the Godhead. It is translated Lord in our King James version, and expresses the relationship of a master and slave. When used in the possessive it is an acknowledgment of God’s ownership and authority. Slavery is a blessing when God is the Owner and Lord. And in the days of Abraham when slavery was the order between man and man it was not an unmitigated evil. The purchased slave had the protection and privileges not enjoyed by the hired servant. The bought slave was to be circumcised and allowed to eat the Passover: “But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof” (#Ex 12:44).
This word in the singular (ADON) is applied to man more than two hundred times in the Old Testament, and is variously translated lord, master, owner. This name for God is first used in the Old Testament in connection with Abraham. Abraham was the first man to address God as ADONAI. Abraham as a slave owner also acknowledges God as his Master and Owner. When Abraham had returned from the slaughter of the king’s, and had rescued Lot, the king of Sodom wanted to reward him, but he refused the reward. “After these things the word of the LORD (Jehovah) came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD (Adonai Jehovah) what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?” (#Ge 15:1,2). He who had slaves acknowledged himself to be the slave of God.
JEHOVAH (Pronounced Je-ho-vah)
This is the most famous of the names of God, and is predicated of Him as a necessary and self-existent Being. The meaning is: HE THAT ALWAYS WAS, THAT ALWAYS IS, AND THAT EVER IS TO COME. We have it thus translated in #Re 1:4: “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne.”
Jehovah is the personal, proper, and incommunicable name of God. In #Ps 83:18 we read: “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.” The other names of God are sometimes applied to creatures, but the name Jehovah is used exclusively of the true and living God.
The Jews had a superstitious reverence for this name of God and would not pronounce it when reading, but would substitute other names as Adonai and Elohim. This is the name of God in covenant relation with man. It occurs about seven thousand times and is usually translated “Lord” in our King James version. As already noted it includes all tenses, past, present, and future. The name comes from a root which signifies to be.
Of the relation between Elohim and Jehovah, A. W. Pink has some illuminating remarks in his book, “The Divine Inspiration of the Bible,” and we quote:
“The names Elohim and Jehovah are found on the pages of the Old Testament several thousand times, but they are never employed loosely or used alternately. Each of these names has a definite significance and scope, and were we to substitute the one for the other the beauty and perfection of a multitude of passages would be destroyed. To illustrate: the word God occurs all through Genesis 1, but ‘Lord God’ in Genesis 2. Were these two Divine titles reversed here, a flaw and blemish would be the consequences. ‘God’ is the creatorial title, whereas ‘Lord’ implies covenant relationship and shows God’s dealings with His own people. Hence, in Gen. 1, ‘God’ is used, and in Gen. 2, ‘Lord God’ is employed, and all through the remainder of the Old Testament these two Divine titles are used discriminately and in harmony with the meaning of first mention. One or two examples must suffice. “And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God (Elohim, C. D. C.) had commanded him.” ‘God’ because it was the Creator commanding with respect to His creatures, as such; but in the remainder of the same verse, we read, “and the Lord (Jehovah, C. D. C.) shut him in” (#Ge 7:15,16), because God’s action here toward Noah was based upon covenant relationship. When going forth to meet Goliath David said “This day will the LORD (Jehovah) deliver thee into mine hand (because David was in covenant relationship with him); and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth (which was not in covenant relationship with Him) may know that there is a God (Elohim) in Israel. And all this assembly (which were in covenant relationship with him) shall know that the LORD (Jehovah) saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’S, and he will give you into our hands” (#1Sa 17:46,47). Once more: “And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD (Jehovah) helped him; and God (Elohim) moved them to depart from him” (#2Ch 18:31). And thus it is all through the Old Testament.”
THE JEHOVAH TITLES
The name Jehovah is often used as a compound with other names to set forth the true God in some aspect of His character in meeting the needs of His people. There are fourteen of these Jehovah titles in the Old Testament, but there is not space in this volume to treat each one separately. It must suffice for us to present them and give a few references where they are used:
1. JEHOVAH-HOSEENU, “Jehovah our Maker” “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (#Ps 95:6).
2. JEHOVAH-JIREH, “Jehovah will provide” “And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen” (#Ge 22:14).
3. JEHOVAH-ROPHECA, “Jehovah that healeth thee” “And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee” (#Ex 15:26).
4. JEHOVAH-NISSI, “Jehovah my banner” “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” (#Ex 17:15).
5. JEHOVAH-M’KADDESH, “Jehovah that doth sanctify you”: “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you” (#Ex 31:13); “And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you” (#Le 20:8).
6. JEHOVAH-ELOHEENU, “Jehovah our God” “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy…He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions” (#Ps 99:5,7,8).
7. JEHOVAH-ELOHEKA, “Jehovah thy God” “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage: … Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (#Ex 20:2,5,7).
8. JEHOVAH-ELOHAY, “Jehovah my God” “And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee” (#Zec 14:5).
9. JEHOVAH-SHALOM, “Jehovah send peace”: “Then Gideon built an altar there unto the Lord, and called it Jehovah-shalom: unto this day it is yet in Ophrah of the Abiezrites” (#Jud 6:24).
10. JEHOVAH-TSEBAHOTH, “Jehovah of hosts” “And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there” (#1Sa 1:3); “And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha” (#Ro 9:29); “Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth” (#Jas 5:4).
11. JEHOVAH-ROHI, “Jehovah my shepherd” “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want” (#Ps 23:1).
12. JEHOVAH-HELEYON, “Jehovah most high” “I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high” (#Ps 7:17); “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth” (#Ps 47:2); “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods” (#Ps 97:9).
13. JEHOVAH-TSIDKEENU, “Jehovah our righteousness” “In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (#Jer 23:6); “In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness” (#Jer 33:16).
14. JEHOVAH-SHAMMAH, “Jehovah is there” “It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be, The LORD is there” (#Eze 48:35).
THE NAMES OF GOD IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
1. THEOS. In the Greek New Testament this is the general name of God, and corresponds with Elohim of the Hebrew Old Testament. It is applied to all three persons of the Trinity, but especially to God the Father.
2. PATER. This title corresponds with Jehovah of the Old Testament and expresses the relationship we have with God through Christ. It is applied to God two hundred and sixty five times and is always translated Father.
3. DESPOTEES (English Despot). This title sets forth God in His absolute sovereignty, and is similar to Adonai of the Old Testament. It occurs only five times in the New Testament: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word” (#Lu 2:29); “And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (#Ac 4:24); “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (#2Pe 2:1); “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4); “And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (#Re 6:10).
4. KURIOS. This word is found hundreds of times and is translated lord, Lord, master, Master, owner, and sir. In quotations from the Hebrew it is often used for Jehovah. It is a title of the Lord Jesus as master and owner.
5. CHRISTOS. This word means the Anointed and is translated Christ. It comes from chrio to anoint. It is the official name of the long promised and long expected Messiah or Savior. The New Testament applies this title to Jesus of Nazareth exclusively.
From all these names of the Supreme Being we learn that He is the eternal, immutable, self-existent, self-sufficient, and all-sufficient being; and is the supreme object of fear, trust, adoration, and obedience.
To the author this study has been interesting, and at the same time tedious and difficult, and the reader will have to be a patient plodder if he is to get the most out of it. What a marvelous revelation we have of the great God in these various names!
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1
O, FOR MORE GRACE!
OUR Father, Thou dost hear us when we pray. Thou hast provided an advocate and intercessor in heaven now; we cannot come to Thee unless Thy Holy Spirit shall suggest desire, and help us while we plead. We would ask that the subject which caused such conflict to Paul may be beyond conflict with us; may we know the Christ and have Him to be our all in all. We would have the conflict about others, but may we be past it for ourselves. He is everything to us; more than all in Him we find. We do accept Thee, Lord Jesus, to be made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. We will not look out of Thee for anything, for everything is in Thee. Our sin is pardoned, our sinful nature is subdued; we have a perfect righteousness; we have an immortal life; we have a sure hope; we have an immovable foundation. Why should we look beyond Thee? Why should we look within to ourselves, knowing that Thou shalt be the only well from which we will draw the living water, the only foundation upon which we will be builded. We would thrust out new rootlets this day, and take fresh hold on the blessed soil in which grace has planted us.
O Savior, reveal Thyself anew, teach us a little more, help us to go a little deeper into the divine mystery. May we grip Thee and grasp Thee; may we suck out of Thee the nutriment of our spirit; may we be in Thee as a branch is in the stem, and may we bear fruit from Thee. Without Thee we can do nothing.
Forgive, we pray Thee, Thy servants, any wanderings during the past. If we have forgotten Thee, forget not us; if we have acted apart from Thee, forgive the act. Blot out the sin. Help us in the future to live only as we live in Thee, to speak, and even to think, as in union with our living Head. Take away from us all life which is contrary to the life of Christ; bring us into complete subjection in Him, until for us to live shall be Christ in every single act of life. May we walk humbly with God in joyful faith in the finished work of Christ.
Savior, look on Thy beloved ones, and give blessings according to our necessities. We cannot pray a prayer that would comprise all, but Thou canst, Great Intercessor, plead for each one, and get for each one of us the blessing wanted. Are we depressed? Give us stronger faith. Have we become worldly? Pardon this great offense and lead us more into spiritual things. Have we become joyous, but have forgotten the Source of Joy? Lord, sweeten and savor that joy with the sweet perfume of Thine own presence. Have we to preach, and do we feel weak? Oh! be our strength. Are we engaged in the Sunday-school, and have we seen little success? Lord, teach us how to teach; give us our boys and girls to be our spiritual reward. Are we sickly? Have we those that vex us because they are unholy and ungodly? This, indeed, is a terrible trial to many; Lord, help them, both in their personal sickness and in this great spiritual trouble. Have we dear ones whom we love with all our hearts, who pine before our eyes? Lord, have pity upon them and restore them, and give them patience to bear pain; and give us resignation to Thy will in this matter. Whatever the trial of Thy servants, make a way of escape that we may be able to bear it. Our great concern, however, is to grow in grace and to become like our Master. We struggle and we struggle, but how small our progress! Lord, help us in any matter in which we have felt defeated. If we have been betrayed through want of watchfulness, Lord forgive and help another time. If any of Thy servants have lost the brightness of their evidence, give them to come to Christ as sinners if they cannot come as saints. And if through Satan’s temptation any are sorely put to it even to keep their feet, hold them up; and if any have fallen, help them to say, “Rejoice not against me, O, mine enemy; when I fall I shall arise.”
Now look in great mercy upon those who are unconverted; Lord save them. Some are quite careless; Lord, they are dead; come and quicken them. We cannot see, but Thou canst. Oh! that some of the most obdurate and hardened might be softened by the touch of Thy Spirit this very day; and may others who are not careless, but who are even seeking after eternal life, but who are going the wrong way to work, may they be shown their error, may they be led in the way by Thee, may they look, and, looking, live. We know how many of them are wanting to be this and that before they take Christ to be all in all; may they cease their seeking by finding everything in Christ. As Thou art a prayer-hearing God, and a God of pardon, issue many a pardon from Thy heavenly court today, sealed with the Redeemer’s blood, signed with the Father’s name. Oh! today, Lord, ere men grow old in sin, ere they die in their sins, save them with an everlasting salvation.
God bless our country and our Sovereign; God bless this city; may there be no disquietude between the different orders of men — the employer and the employed; but may there be a general spirit of goodwill given to the people of this city, and do Thou prosper us.
Remember all people, especially the poor, the widows and the fatherless, and any that are depressed in spirit, whose depression tends to the failure of reason; the Lord restore them, and such as are dying. O Lord, let them not die without hope, and may Thy believing people learn to pass away without even tasting the bitterness of death. May they enter into rest, each one walking in his own uprightness.
Save this age from its own intellectual pride; give back the spirit of simple faith in Christ, for we desire His glory. “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”
C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers
17. On the other hand, the Scriptures demonstrate that there is some distinction between the Father and the Word, the Word and the Spirit; but the magnitude of the mystery reminds us of the great reverence and soberness which ought to he employed in discussing it. It seems to me, that nothing can be more admirable than the words of Gregory Nanzianzen: “Ou ftano to ei noesai, kai tois trisi perilampomai; ou ftavo ta tria dielein kai eis to hen anaferomai”, (Greg. Nanzian. in Serm. de Sacro Baptis.) “I cannot think of the unity without being irradiated by the Trinity: I cannot distinguish between the Trinity without being carried up to the unity.” Therefore, let us beware of imagining such a Trinity of persons as will distract our thoughts, instead of bringing them instantly back to the unity. The words Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, certainly indicate a real distinction, not allowing us to suppose that they are merely epithets by which God is variously designated from his works. Still they indicate distinction only, not division. The passages we have already quoted show that the Son has a distinct subsistence from the Father, because the Word could not have been with God unless he were distinct from the Father; nor but for this could he have had his glory with the Father. In like manner, Christ distinguishes the Father from himself when he says that there is another who bears witness of him, (John 5:32; 8:16.) To the same effect is it elsewhere said, that the Father made all things by the Word. This could not be, if he were not in some respect distinct from him. Besides, it was not the Father that descended to the earth, but he who came forth from the Father; nor was it the Father that died and rose again, but he whom the Father had sent. This distinction did not take its beginning at the incarnation: for it is clear that the only begotten Son previously existed in the bosom of the Father, (John 1:18.) For who will dare to affirm that the Son entered his Father’s bosom for the first time, when he came down from heaven to assume human nature? Therefore, he was previously in the bosom of the Father, and had his glory with the Father. Christ intimates the distinction between the Holy Spirit and the Father, when he says that the Spirit proceedeth from the Father, and between the Holy Spirit and himself, when he speaks of him as another as he does when he declares that he will send another Comforter; and in many other passages besides, (John 14:6; 15:26; 14:16.)
John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 13-Henry Beveridge Translation
Doctrine! Theology! These are not words calculated to inspire interest or rapt attention among modern Americans or even American Christians. If we did the word-association game, the associations of these words would probably be negative. Once more in this matter we need to have our attitudes and perspectives re-molded by the Word of God. For, as I hope to show you, the Bible tells us that every Christian must know doctrine—must become a theologian! 2 Peter 1:5-7 is my text and the key phrase for this blog is found in verse 5: “supply … in your moral excellence knowledge.”
The fascinating thing about Peter’s exhortation to growth in grace is its detailed, systematic, and orderly character. Yet this very order and system raises many questions in a thinking Christians mind. In this series so far I have set before you a number of propositions intended to answer these questions and unlock the true significance this order for you. Let me review briefly.
First, there is a rationale for the orderly or consecutive listing of graces that you see here in Peter’s exhortation. It is no accident, and it can be no accident, that faith comes first or that love comes last in this list. The rest of the New Testament so speaks of faith and love that no one aware of its teaching can possibly think that it is accidental that faith comes first and love comes last in this list.
Read the entire article here.
“To seek after mere notions of Truth, without an endeavor after an experience of its power in our hearts, is not the way to increase our understanding in spiritual things. He alone is in a posture to learn from God, who sincerely gives up his mind, conscience, and affections to the power and rule of what is revealed unto him. Men may have in their study of the Scriptures other ends also, as the profit and edification of others. But if this conforming of their own souls unto the power of the Word be not fixed in the first place in their minds they do not strive lawfully, nor will they be crowned. And if at any time, when we study the Word, we have not this design expressly in our minds, yet if upon the discovery of any truth we endeavor not to have the likeness of it in our own hearts, we lose our principal advantage by it” (John Owen). It is much to be feared that many preachers will have reason to lament in the day to come,
“They made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept” (Song of Solomon 1:6)
—like a chef preparing meals for others and himself starved.
Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures
But another testing moment is prosperity. Oh! there have been some of God’s people, who have been more tried by prosperity than by adversity. Of the two trials, the trial of adversity is less severe to the spiritual man than that of prosperity. “As the fining pot for silver, so is a man to his praise.” It is a terrible thing to be prosperous. You had need to pray to God, not only to help you in your troubles, but to help you in your blessings. Mr. Whitfield once had a petition to put up for a young man who had — stop, you will think it was for a young man who had lost his father or his property. No! “The prayers of the congregation are desired for a young man who has become heir to an immense fortune, and who feels he has need of much grace to keep him humble in the midst of riches.” That is the kind of prayer that ought to be put up; for prosperity is a hard thing to bear. Now, perhaps you have become almost intoxicated with worldly delights, even as a Christian. Everything goes well with you; you have loved, and you are loved. Your affairs are prosperous; your heart rejoices, your eyes sparkle; you tread the earth with a happy soul and a joyous countenance; you are a happy man, for you have found that even in worldly things, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Did you ever feel, —
“These can never satisfy;
Give me Christ, or else I die.”
Did you feel that these comforts were nothing but the leaves of the tree, and not the fruit, and that you could not live upon mere leaves? Did you feel they were after all nothing but husks? Or did you not sit down and say, “Now, soul, take thine ease; thou hast goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry?” If you did imitate the rich fool, then you were of the world; but if your spirit went up above your prosperity so that you still lived near to God, then you proved that you were a chill of God, for you were not of the world. These are testing points; both prosperity and adversity.
Charles H. Spurgeon-The Character of Christ’s People-Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 22, 1855
CHAPTER 2-THE NATURE OF GOD or GOD’S MODE OF BEING
What is God? What constitutes the Divine nature? What is God’s mode of being? These questions bring us to the burning bush and upon holy ground. We must tread softly, walk humbly, and avoid speculation. But we can go as far as Divine revelation goes.
There is a Divine nature. By nature we mean that particular character of being which makes one kind of being differ from another kind of being. Thus we speak of angelic nature, of human nature, and of brute nature. That nature may be predicated of God is suggested by Paul who says that the Galatians, before their conversion, served those which by nature were no gods. “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods” (#Ga 4:8). This clearly implies that one does exist who by nature is God.
1. GOD IS A PERSONAL BEING.
As a person God is distinguished from pantheism, the belief that all things in the aggregate are God, God is everything and everything is God. As a personal Being God is both immanent and transcendent, that is, He is both in and above His creation. He is a person in His creation, but separate and distinct from it. He is also above His creation, that is, He is bigger than creation, distinct from it and not a part of it. In his prayer dedicating the temple, Solomon paid tribute to the transcendent greatness of God in these words: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” (#1Ki 8:27).
There are three marks of personality: self consciousness, self determination, and moral consciousness, and all these qualities belong to God.
2. GOD IS A SPIRIT BEING.
God is exclusively Spirit: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (#Joh 4:24). The reader must grasp this truth firmly, or he will have trouble in understanding the trinity of persons in the Godhead. As a Spirit God can neither be divided nor compounded. As a Spirit He is invisible and intangible. “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (#Joh 1:18).
1. He is creator of spirits, and since a spirit being is the highest order of being, He must have the nature that belongs to that order.
2. The scriptures ascribe spirituality to God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (#Joh 4:24). “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (#Heb 12:9).
3. His spirituality may be argued from His immensity and eternity. He is infinite as to space and time. Matter is limited as to space and time, but God is both omnipresent and eternal.
4. His spirituality may be argued from his independency and immutability. That which is material can be divided, added to, or diminished. Matter is subject to change, but God is the unchangeable one. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (#Mal 3:6).
5. His spirituality may also be argued from His absolute perfections. A material body imposes limitations, and is not consistent with absolute perfection. We use the word perfection in a wider sense than sinlessness. The Savior, in his human body, had his limitations although He was sinless. He was not everywhere at the same time. He was not immune to hunger and thirst, weariness and pain.
Many passages of scripture ascribe bodily parts to God. They speak of His eyes, face, hands, feet, arms, etc. In reply it may be said that the language is figurative, and is used in an accommodation to human understanding. Such language is called anthropomorphism, the ascription of human characteristics to things not human.
3. GOD IS A TRIUNE BEING.
There is one Divine essence of being subsisting in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is a triunity, three in one. In the early part of the fourth century when Arianism threatened to prevail, a young theologian named Athanasius formulated the statement that was incorporated in the Nicene Creed. He said, “We worship one God in trinity and trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.” This is a remarkable statement, profound in its clarity and simplicity. The Arian notion made the Father the Supreme God and the Son only Divine in a subordinate sense. The Son was like but not of the same substance with the Father, according to Arius.
The Sabellian notion is that God is one person, manifesting Himself sometimes as Father, sometimes as Son, and sometimes as Holy Spirit. But this would make Him cease to exist as Father when manifested as Son.
If God were a physical being as a trinity, He would be in three parts, and if these parts were persons, each person would be only a part of God. But as a Spirit He is three persons, but only one substance, and each person is all of God. Of the Son we read: “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (#Col 2:9). And again He is called: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (#Col 1:15).
God is not three persons in the same sense that Father, mother, and daughter are three persons in one family. It could not be said of any one of three persons in a human family that he is all of the family.
God has three modes of Being, three centers of personal consciousness. He is one essentially, but three persons relatively. And in these relations He exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Dr. Strong puts it like this: In the matter of source, origin, and authority, He is the Father. In the matter of expression, medium, and revelation, He is the Son. In the matter of apprehension, accomplishment, and realization, He is the Spirit. Dr. Strong also sums up the characteristic differences between the work of the Son and the work of the Spirit in four statements, as follows:
1. All outgoing seems to be the work of Christ; all return to God the work of the Spirit.
2. Christ is the organ of external revelation; the Holy Spirit is the organ of internal revelation.
3. Christ is our advocate in heaven; the Holy Spirit is our advocate in the soul.
4. In the work of Christ we are passive; in the work of the Holy Spirit we are made active.
THE TRIUNITY A REVEALED DOCTRINE
Just as man without the Bible has never discovered the one true God, without the Bible he has never discovered a trinity of persons in the Godhead. The triunity is indiscoverable by human reason, neither is there any rational proof of it.
It is said that on one occasion Daniel Webster and a friend listened to a sermon upon the Trinity. As they walked home from church the friend said: “Mr. Webster, is not that doctrine a mathematical impossibility?” Said Mr. Webster: “According to the mathematics of earth it seems to be; but I’m not acquainted with the mathematics of heaven.”
The Bible gives us heavenly mathematics, and to it we should go in proof of the Triunity of God.
1. We have triunity in the plural names of God. The first name of God we meet with in the Bible is plural: “In the beginning God (Elohim, plural) created (singular) the heaven and the earth” (#Ge 1:1). The plural noun with the singular verb shows trinity acting in unity. Charles Smith says the Bible begins with a forgery; that this first verse should read: “In the beginning the gods.” Not so; the singular verb shows there was one Being acting, while the plural noun reveals three persons in one Divine essence. The plural for God occurs far more often than does the singular.
2. We have triunity in the plural expressions used by God when speaking of Himself. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” (#Ge 1:26); “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (#Ge 11:7)., ect.
3. A trinity of Divine persons was manifested at the baptism of Jesus. There was the incarnate Son being baptized; the Father was manifested by audible voice; and the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (#Mt 3:16,17).
4. We have triunity in the baptismal formula: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (#Mt 28:19). It does not say, “baptizing them in the names (plural) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Nor does it give us the equivalent of the plural by saying, “In the name of the Father, and in the name of the Son, and in the name of the Holy Ghost.” Nor, on the other hand, does it say, “In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost might be taken as merely three designations of one person. Here is the reading: “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
THE TRIUNITY REFLECTED IN CREATION
While there is nothing in creation to explain or account for the triunity of God, the triunity does explain creation. This is a triuniverse, a three-in-one creation. One of the truly great books of our day is that book by Nathan R. Wood entitled “The Secret of the Universe.” In this remarkable book the author shows that the universe is what it is because it was created by the triune God. He first shows that the physical or outer universe is a triunity. The basic things are space, matter, time; three modes of existence and, like God, each is all of the whole. And each of these basic things is a triunity. Space has three dimensions: length, breadth, and height. Each is the whole of space and yet there are three distinct dimensions. Matter is composed of three things: energy, motion, phenomena; three modes of existence; distinct and yet one, and each is all of the whole. And as a time universe there is absolute threeness: past, present, future; distinct and yet each is the whole. All of time is or has been future, the future includes it all. All of time is or has been or will be present. And all of time is or will be past.
The author then takes the soul or what he calls the inner universe, and shows that the soul of man is a triunity, that is, three modes of existence. He calls them nature, person, personality; distinct and yet each is the whole of the soul, absolute threeness and absolute oneness. And here the author shows how man as a soul reflects the triune God in a way that the physical creation does not. He makes God the key that unlocks the riddle of the universe. He says in a sort of summary: “The structure of the universe, the nature of space, of matter, of time, of human life, attest the Trinity. They reflect the Trinity. They demand the Trinity. The Trinity explains them.”
The author knocks the Einstein theory of relativity with the argument for the fourth dimension into the proverbial cocked hat. The difference between Einstein and Wood is the difference between the atheistic and the Christian approach to the secret of the universe.
C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1