“His name is wonderful” by Herman Bavinck

“There is certainly no book in the world which to the same extent and in the same way as the Holy Scripture supports the absolute transcendence of God above each and every creature and at the same time supports the intimate relationship between the creature and his Creator.

On the very first page of the Bible the absolute transcendence of God above His creatures comes to our attention. Without strain or fatigue He calls the whole world into existence by His word alone.

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6). He speaks and it is done; He commands and it stands fast (Ps. 33:9).

He does according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. And none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, what doest Thou (Dan. 4:35)?

The nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted to Him as less than nothing and vanity. To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare unto Him (Isa. 40:15–18).

For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord (Ps. 89:6). There is no name by which He can truly be named: His name is wonderful.

When God speaks to Job out of the thunder and displays the magnitude of His works before him, Job humbly bows his head and says: Behold, I am vile. What shall I answer Thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth (Job 40:4).

God is great, and we know Him not (Job 36:26). Such knowledge is too wonderful for us. It is high. We cannot attain unto it (Ps. 139:6).

Nevertheless, this same sublime and exalted God stands in intimate relationship with all His creatures, even the meanest and smallest. What the Scriptures give us is not an abstract concept of God, such as the philosopher gives us, but puts the very, living God before us and lets us see Him in the works of His hands.

We have but to lift up our eyes and see who has made all things. All things were made by His hand, brought forth by His will and His deed.

And they are all sustained by His strength. Hence everything bears the stamp of His excellences and the mark of His goodness, wisdom, and power. And among creatures only man was created in His image and likeness.

Only man is called the offspring of God (Acts 17:28).”

–Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God (trans. Henry Zylstra; Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 1956/2019), 115-116.

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“Blessed is the one who truly looks for help to Jacob’s God” – Psalm 146 (The Scottish Psalter, 1650)

Psalm 146
Scottish Psalter Version

1 Praise the LORD, my soul! O praise Him!
2 I’ll extol Him all my days.
While I live, to God my Saviour
from my heart I will sing praise.

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
mortal men who cannot save.
4 All their plans will come to nothing
when they perish in the grave.

5 Blessed is the one who truly
looks for help to Jacob’s God;
Blessed is the one who places
all his hope upon the LORD–

6 He who made the earth and heaven
and the seas, with all their store;
He who keeps His every promise,
who is faithful evermore.

7 He delivers from oppression
and relieves the hungry’s plight.
He releases those in prison;
8 to the blind the LORD gives sight.

Those who are bowed down He raises.
God delights in righteousness.
9 He protects and cares for strangers,
widows and the fatherless.

He frustrates the wicked’s purpose.
10 So the LORD through endless days
Reigns to every generation.
Praise your God, O Zion, praise!

–“Psalm 146,” in Sing Psalms: New Metrical Versions Of The Book Of Psalms With The Scottish Psalter (1650) (Edinburgh: Free Church of Scotland, 2003).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Theology by its nature is a mystery discerning enterprise” by Thomas Weinandy

“I believe that a distinction between problem and mystery is relevant to how theologians ought to approach issues of faith and theology.

Marcel and Maritain were well aware that, arising out of the Enlightenment, there grew the mentality that intellectual advancement consisted in solving problems that had hitherto not been solved. The former ‘mysteries’ of the physical universe were being resolved by approaching them as scientific problems to be decoded and unraveled.

The scientific and physical laws of nature became transparent and unmistakable. The new enthusiasm and success of the scientific method was the major contributing factor to this mentality.

Science became the means of resolving all kinds of problems and issues concerning nature and how nature worked. All this was done in a concise, rational, mathematical, and experiential fashion.

It was equally eminently practical. Scientific knowledge could solve a host of practical problems, and everyone gloried in its success. This mentality is illustrated in the contemporary belief that technology, one of the fruits of science, can solve almost any problem.

In the realm of science and technology this mentality, that intellectual advancement consists in solving theoretical and practical problems, may be legitimate. However, I want to argue that this mentality, to disastrous effect, has coloured how many philosophers and theologians approach questions of faith and theology.

Many theologians today, having embraced the Enlightenment presuppositions and the scientific method that it fostered, approach theological issues as if they were scientific problems to be solved rather than mysteries to be discerned and clarified.

However, the true goal of theological inquiry is not the resolution of theological problems, but the discernment of what the mystery of faith is.

Because God, who can never be fully comprehended, lies at the heart of all theological enquiry, theology by its nature is not a problem solving enterprise, but rather a mystery discerning enterprise.

This can bee seen already in the early stages of God’s revelation of Himself to the Jewish people. God manifested Himself to Moses in the burning bush (see Exod. 3).

Moses, in the course of the conversation, asked God: ‘What is Your name?’ Since names, for the Israelites, both revealed the character of the person so named and allowed for the knower of the name to call upon the person so named, Moses in asking God to tell him His name, wanted to know God as well as have the power to call upon Him.

God must have chuckled (It was obviously an ‘impassible’ chuckle!) to Himself as He replied to Moses: “I Am Who I Am’ or “I Am He Who Is.’

God did reveal to Moses His name and so Moses now knew more about God than he knew before. He now knew that God is ‘He who is.’

However, Moses must have quickly realized that, in knowing God more fully, God had become an even greater mystery than He was before. Previously Moses in calling God, for example, El Shaddai— God of the Mountain– may not have known a great deal about God, but the little he did know was at least somewhat comprehensible. God was He who dwelt on the mountain, which was the home of the gods.

However, Moses now knew much more about God. He actually knew that God is ‘I Am Who I Am,’ but what it means for God to be ‘He Who Is’ is completely incomprehensible. Moses, nor we today, can comprehend that God’s very nature is ‘to be,’ that He is the One who is the fullness of life and existence.

Here we learn a primary lesson concerning the nature of revelation and theology. The more God reveals who He is and the more we come to a true and authentic knowledge of who He is, the more mysterious He becomes.

Theology, as faith seeking understanding, helps us come to a deeper and fuller understanding of the nature of God and His revelation, but this growth is in coming to know what the mystery of God is and not the comprehension of the mystery.”

–Thomas G. Weinandy, Does God Suffer? (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 31-33.

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“The invitation is as free as the blessing is full” by Charles Spurgeon

“Everything that I believe to be in God’s Word I shall preach, whether my hearers accept it or not. It is to me a great comfort that such numbers do receive my teaching; and I never feel surprised when I meet with those who do not.

I do not expect everybody to eat everything that I put on the table. I may flavour a dish with too much salt or too much pepper at times, but your own prayerful judgments will guide your tastes.

We must preach all the truth; and this one thing is certain, we shall never give up loving the souls of men, or cease from trying to bring in the lost from the highways and hedges.

We shall throughout life echo that blessed call of our Lord Jesus— ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’

Labourers and burden-bearers shall hear continually that gracious word; and if they do not come to Jesus, their blood shall be upon their own heads, for the invitation is as free as the blessing is full.

The gospel trumpet rings out clearly over hill and dale. ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’

We cannot make men come; that is the work of the Holy Spirit; but we can persuade them by the love of Jesus and by the terrors of the Lord.

We can preach Christ to sinners if we cannot preach sinners to Christ; and we know that the Lord’s word shall not return unto Him void.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel: 1883 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1883), 207–208.

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“God is a self-sufficient Being who needs nothing from outside Himself to support Himself or to make Himself happy” by John Gill

“God has one of His names, El Shaddai, which signifies He who is sufficient or all-sufficient. God is a self-sufficient Being, and needs not anything from without Himself to support Himself, or to make Himself happy.

He is the first of beings, the first and the last; before Him there was no God formed, nor will be any after Him: from everlasting to everlasting He is God. And therefore His existence is not owing to any, nor has He received any assistance or support from any.

Being self-sufficient, He must be self-subsistent. As He existed of Himself, and subsisted in and of Himself, millions and millions of ages, even an eternity, inconceivable to us alone, before any other existed, He must be self-sufficient, and as then, so to all eternity.

He is an infinite and all-comprehending Being. To what is infinite nothing can be added. If anything was wanting in Him, He would be finite; if there was any excellency in another which is not in Him, He would not be infinite, and so not God.

But being infinite, He is incomprehensible by others, and He comprehends in Himself all excellencies, perfections, and happiness. And therefore He is self-sufficient. ‘Who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again? For of Fim, and through Him, and for Him, are all things,’ (Rom. 11:35-36).

God is the summum bonum, the chief good, and has all that is good in Him. He is good essentially, originally, and inderivatively. He is the source and fountain of all goodness. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17), and therefore He must have a fulness of goodness in Him sufficient for Himself, as well as for His creatures, and can receive nothing from them.

Otherwise, He would not be the independent Being He is: all have their dependence on Him, and all owe their being and the preservation of it to Him; but He depends on none; which He would, if He stood in need of, or received anything from them.

He is possessed of all perfections and is sufficiently happy in them. He is perfect and entire, wanting nothing, and therefore self-sufficient. He is the Fountain; creatures, and what they have, are streams. And it would be as absurd for Him to need them, or anything from them, as for the fountain to need its streams.

Besides, God in His divine persons, God, Father, Son, and Spirit, have enough within themselves, to give the utmost, yea, infinite complacency, delight, and satisfaction among themselves, and to one another, and had before any creatures were made, and would have had if none had been made, and so ever will.

The Father delighted in the Son, ‘the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.’ (Heb. 1:3) The Son delighted in the Father, before whom He was always rejoicing, when as yet no creature existed. And both in the blessed Spirit, proceeding from them, and He in them (Prov. 8:30), for creation adds nothing at all to the perfection and happiness of God, nor makes the least alteration in Him (Rev. 4:11).

God is an all-sufficient Being and has enough within Himself to communicate to His creatures. He is able to do whatsoever He pleases, to fulfill all His engagements and promises, and to do exceeding abundantly above all that men ask or think.

And so communicative and diffusive is His goodness, that it extends to all His creatures. And every good and perfect gift comes from Him, which is a proof of His all-sufficiency.

In His gifts of nature and providence, He gives life and breath and all things to His creatures, (Acts 17:25). A painter may paint as near to life as can be, and a sculptor may give a statue its just features, and frame its limbs in proper symmetry and proportion, but neither of them can give life and breath.

But God is sufficient to do this, and has done it: He breathed into Adam the breath of life, and gives life to all his posterity. So it is with great propriety that He is called the God of their life (Psalm 42:8).

And He is sufficient to support, maintain, and preserve the life He has given, and does, as long as He pleases, and to provide for men all the necessaries of life (Job 10:12, 12:10; Psalm 66:9).

God is all-sufficient in the communications of His grace. He is the God of all grace, and He is able to cause all grace to abound towards His people, and to supply all their wants out of that rich and glorious plenitude and all-sufficiency in Himself by Jesus Christ.

He has stored the covenant with all the blessings of grace. He has presented Christ, the head and mediator of it with all the blessings of goodness.

He has blessed His people in Christ with all spiritual blessings, and given them grace in Him before the world began. He caused the fulness of His grace to dwell in Him, which is always sufficient for them, sufficient for them in all ages and periods of time.

His grace in Christ is sufficient for them of all nations and kingdoms throughout the world, and for them in every state and condition of life, and for all believers, weak or strong.

And He has a sufficiency of it for all saving purposes: for their acceptance with God, and justification before Him; for the remission of their sins, and the cleansing of their souls, and for the supply of all their wants whilst they are in this state of imperfection.

And He has a sufficiency of it to communicate to them at all times: when they are called to service, ordinary or extraordinary, to do or suffer for His name’s sake; in times of affliction, temptation, desertion, and in the hour of death, to bear up under and carry them through all, and bring them safe to His kingdom and glory (John 1:14, 16, 2 Cor. 12:9, Phil. 4:19).”

–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: 170–175.

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“With His all-sufficiency He can fill and saturate the soul to an overflowing measure” by Wilhelmus à Brakel

“All creatures, whatever the degree of their perfection may be, are dependent upon an external source for their being and well-being.

God’s perfection, however, excludes such a possibility, as He has no need of anything. No one can add to or subtract anything from His being, neither can anyone increase or decrease His felicity.

His perfection consists in His self-sufficiency, His self-existence, and that He is the beginning— the first (Rev. 1:8). His all-sufficiency is within and for Himself, the אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י (El Shaddai), the All-sufficient One (Gen. 17:1).

‘Neither is He worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything’ (Acts 17:25).

‘Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? Or is it gain to Him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?’ (Job 22:3).

‘My goodness extendeth not to Thee’ (Ps. 16:2).

Thus there is no common ground between the perfection of God and of creatures— except in name. That which is in man is contrary to the perfection of God, however, and thus the perfection of God is an incommunicable attribute of God.

The salvation of man consists in knowing, honoring, and serving God.

Such is our God, who not only is all-sufficient in Himself but who with His all-sufficiency can fill and saturate the soul to such an overflowing measure that it has need of nothing else but to have God as its portion.

The soul so favored is filled with such light, love, and happiness, that it desires nothing but this.

‘Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee’ (Ps. 73:25).””

–Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Volume 1 (God, Man, and Christ), Ed. Joel Beeke, Trans. Bartel Elshout (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1700/1994), 1: 91.

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