Tag Archives: God’s Excellencies

“Whatever our tongue utters should savor of His excellence” by John Calvin

“Whatever our mind conceives of God, whatever our tongue utters, should savor of His excellence, match the loftiness of His sacred name, and lastly, serve to glorify His greatness.”

–John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (ed. John T. McNeill; trans. Ford Lewis Battles; vol. 1; The Library of Christian Classics; Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), 388. (2.8.22)

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“Without losing Himself, God can give Himself” by Herman Bavinck

“A deep chasm separates God’s being from that of all creatures.

It is a mark of God’s greatness that He can condescend to the level of His creatures and that, though transcendent, He can dwell immanently in all created beings.

Without losing Himself, God can give Himself, and, while absolutely maintaining His immutability, He can enter into an infinite number of relations to His creatures.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Vol. 2, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 159.

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“There is none greater than this God” by Matthew Barrett

“This book is meant to fill the house with good theology proper, the type that will keep the demons away for good (Matt. 12:45).

That means dispensing with the modern theologian’s agenda to create a God in our own image, a God whose immanence has swallowed His transcendence, a God that can be controlled by the creature because He is not that different from the creature.

But it also means filling the house with a biblical understanding of God as the One who is, as Isaiah said, ‘high and lifted up’ (Isa. 6:1), whose attributes remain undomesticated. He is the God Jeremiah confessed, saying, ‘There is none like You, O Lord; You are great, and Your name is great in might,’ (Jer. 10:6).

There is none greater than this God, not because He is merely a greater version of ourselves but because He is nothing like ourselves.”

–Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2019), xvi.

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“The long-suffering of God is very wonderful” by Jonathan Edwards

“Love to God disposes men to imitate God and therefore disposes them to such long-suffering as He manifests. Long-suffering is often spoken of as one of the attributes of God.

Ex. 34:6: ‘And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.’ Num. 14:18: ‘The Lord is long-suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression,’ Rom. 2:4: ‘Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering?’

The long-suffering of God is very wonderful. He bears innumerable injuries from men, and those which are very great.

If we consider the wickedness there is in the world, and then consider how God continues the world, does not destroy it, but is continually blessing it with innumerable streams of good, and supplying and supporting the world, how rich His daily bounties are to it, how He causes the sun to rise and shed forth his beams on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

And if we consider the goodness of God to some particular populous cities, how vast the quantity of the fruits of God’s goodness is which is daily spent upon them, and consumed by them, and then consider what wickedness there was in these very cities, it will show us how amazingly great is His long-suffering.

And if we consider the same long-suffering has been manifest to very many particular persons, in all ages of the world. He is long-suffering to the sinners that He spares, and to whom He offers His mercy, even while they are rebelling against Him.

And especially if we consider God’s long-suffering towards His elect, many of whom live long in sin, and are great sinners, and God bears with them, yea, bears to the end, and finally is pleased to forgive, and never punishes them, but makes them the vessels of mercy and glory, and shows mercy to them even while enemies, as the apostle Paul takes notice it was with himself.

1 Tim. 1:13–16: ‘Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering for a pattern, to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.’

A child’s love to his father disposes him to imitate his father, and especially does the love of God’s children dispose them to imitate their Heavenly Father.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits in Ethical Writings (ed. Paul Ramsey and John E. Smith; vol. 8; The Works of Jonathan Edwards; New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1989), 8: 192–194.

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“The happiness of the believer shall endure as long as God endures” by Jonathan Edwards

“Believers shall live in a most glorious place, the heaven of heavens, God’s throne and the palace of His glory. If the palaces of earthly princes are so glorious, how glorious must that be which is the palace of Jehovah!

If the temple at Jerusalem, a temple of men’s building, was so splendid and glorious as to cause the Queen of Sheba even to swoon at the very sight of it, how glorious must that temple be which the Almighty has built for Himself with His own hands!

But dwelling in such a glorious place is but the least part of the happiness of heaven. There is the conversation with saints: with holy men of old, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, with the prophets and apostles, and besides that, with the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5) who was crucified for mankind at Jerusalem.

Neither is that the chief thing, the Beatifical Vision of God: that is the tip of happiness! To see a God of infinite glory and majesty face to face, to see Him as He is, and to know Him as we are known, and to be admitted into the most intimate acquaintance with Him, to be embraced as in His arms: this is such a privilege as Moses himself could not be admitted to while on earth.

The vision and fruition of God will be so intimate and clear as to transform the soul into the likeness of God: ‘We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,’ says the Apostle (1 John 3:2).

This happiness shall be eternal. This crowns it!

However great the happiness of heaven were in itself, yet it would detract from it if it were not to be eternal. If the saints in heaven were sure they should enjoy heaven some thousands of years, and after that it should be at an end, it would cast a great damp upon their joys and delights.

It would much grieve them to think that they should lose so great a happiness, and at last it would be a cloud in their light, a bitter in the midst of their sweet.

But it is not so. They are sure that they shall enjoy it forever, and this redoubles the joy: Rev. 22:5, ‘And they shall reign forever and ever.’

So great is the happiness of the saved soul! They shall be delivered from all manner of sin, temptation, trouble and affliction, and shall live in the palace which God has built and where He Himself doth dwell, and there shall enjoy everything they wish for.

They shall enjoy the company of prophets, apostles, martyrs, angels and archangels. They shall see the man Christ Jesus, and even Jehovah Himself, the Eternal Three in One, and shall be intimately united to Him.

And this happiness of theirs shall endure as long as God endures. How precious, then, must the salvation of that soul be in whose salvation is so much happiness.”

—Jonathan Edwards, “The Value of Salvation,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720–1723, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 10, Eds. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1992), 10: 324–325.

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“If God were not immutable, He would not be God” by Herman Bavinck

“God is and remains the same. Everything changes, but He remains standing.

He remains who He is (Ps. 102:26–28). He is YHWH, He who is and ever remains Himself.

He is the first and with the last He is still the same God (Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12). He is who He is (Deut. 32:39; cf. John 8:58; Heb. 13:8), the incorruptible who alone has immortality, and is always the same (Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Heb. 1:11–12).

Unchangeable in His existence and being, He is so also in His thought and will, in all His plans and decisions. He is not a human that He should lie or repent.

What He says, He will do (Num. 15:28; 1 Sam. 15:29). His gifts (charismata) and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). He does not reject his people (Rom. 11:1).

He completes what He has begun (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6). In a word, He, YHWH, does not change (Mal. 3:6).

In Him there is ‘no variation or shadow due to change’ (James 1:17).” On this foundation Christian theology constructed its doctrine of divine immutability…

If God were not immutable, He would not be God. His name is ‘being,’ and this name is “an unalterable name.” All that changes ceases to be what it was. But true being belongs to Him who does not change.

That which truly is remains. That which changes was something and will be something but is not anything because it is mutable.

But God who is cannot change, for every change would diminish His being. Furthermore, God is as immutable in His knowing, willing, and decreeing as He is in His being.

The essence of God by which He is what He is, possesses nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truthfulness, nor in will. As He is, so He knows and wills—immutably.

Augustine wrote, ‘For even as You totally are, so do You alone totally know, for You immutably are, and You know immutably, and You will immutably. Your essence knows and wills immutably, and Your knowledge is and wills immutably, and Your will is and knows immutably.’ (Confessions, XIII, 16)

Neither creation, nor revelation, nor incarnation (affects, etc.) brought about any change in God. No new plan ever arose in God. In God there was always one single immutable will.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (vol. 2; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 153-154.

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“This God is your God” by Jonathan Edwards

“This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened– this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.

He is reconciled to you and has become your friend. There is a friendship between you and the Almighty. You have become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.

Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He has become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.

He cares for you, and will see that you are provided for, and will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you. He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with His Son, and will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.

You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.

The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1992), 435. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here. Edwards was only nineteen years old when preached this sermon.

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