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Definitions of Doctrine
by C. D. Cole
The Infinity of God
Infinity, when applied to God, means that He is unbounded, unlimited, unsearchable, immeasurable, incomparable, and incomprehensible. These are big words, both in size and meaning, and big words are needed to describe such a great and glorious God. God is so great that in comparison with Him, “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth 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). Infinity contrasts God with His creatures. God is infinite; man is finite. God is infinite in all His attributes, but infinity has chief respect to His omnipresence and eternity. God is not bound by space, therefore He is everywhere; nor by time, therefore He is eternal.
I. His Eternity
God’s infinity as to duration is called His eternity. He has neither beginning nor end. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty,” (Rev 1:8). This attribute is possessed by each of the three persons, who have a common and undivided nature. He is eternal whether you look backward or forward. God’s nature is not subject to the law of time. God is not in time; time is in God. God gave existence to time. There is no succession of time with God; to Him past, present, and future is “one eternal now.” “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” (2 Pet. 3:8). It has been well remarked that God is no older now than in the days of David, or when the world was created; for time makes no changes in Him. “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him,” (Dan. 7:13). But not ancient in days. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God,” (Ps. 90:1,2).
He is without end. This is not difficult to understand. We think of men as existing forever, so it is easy to believe this of God. That which has no beginning, obviously could have no end. “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last,” (Rev 22:13).
He is without beginning. At this point God is incomprehensible. But whether we can conceive of life without beginning or not, we are bound to attribute this kind of existence to God. This may be argued:
1. From His necessary self-existence. The existence of God is either arbitrary or necessary. If arbitrary, it must lie from His own will or from the will of another. If from His own will, this would suppose His previous existence, which would be a contradiction. If His existence is from the will of another, that other would be both prior and superior, and so be God. This would involve another contradiction. God then must necessarily exist. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me,” (Isa. 43:10).
2. That God is without beginning may be argued from His immutability. If God is not eternal, He must have passed from non existence into being, and this would involve a change. “But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end,” (Ps. 102:27). “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed,” (Mal. 3:6).
3. The eternity of God may also be argued from His attributes, several of which are said to be eternal. His power is expressly said to be eternal: “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:” (Rom. 1:20). His knowledge is from eternity: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world,” (Acts 15:18). His mercy is said to be from everlasting to everlasting: “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children,” (Ps. 103:17). His purposes are eternal: “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” (Eph. 3:11). His love is called everlasting: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee,” (Jer. 31:3).
4. The eternity of God may be concluded from the covenant of grace which is styled an everlasting covenant: “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow,” (2 Sam. 23:5). It is called the everlasting covenant not only because it will endure immovable forever, but because it was from everlasting. It is sometimes called a new covenant, not because newly made, but because it is always new and never grows old.
5. The incommunicable name of God is Jehovah, which means “The Existing One.” “That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth,” (Ps. 83:18). God exists naturally and necessarily, which means that there is no cause of His existence. He is the great First Cause, and therefore cannot be the effect of any other cause. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever,” (Heb. 13:8). There are no wrinkles on the brow of the eternal God. There is no feebleness of old age with Him.
II. His Omnipresence.
This means that God is everywhere. He is not bound by space. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me,” (Psa. 139:7-10). There is no escape from Him for the wicked and no separation from Him for the righteous. This may be proven:
1. From His power, which is everywhere, as appears in creation and providence. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” (Heb. 1:3).
2. From His knowledge. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” (Heb. 4:13); “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good,” (Prov. 15:3).
The presence of God may be considered in different ways. He is not present everywhere in the same sense or way. His glorious presence is in heaven, where He displays Himself to angels and to the spirits of just men made perfect. His powerful and providential presence is with all His creatures, “upholding all things by the word of his power,” (Heb. 1:3). His gracious presence is with His people, regenerating, sanctifying, comforting, and blessing them. His wrathful presence is in hell, inflicting punishment upon the wicked. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” (Ps. 139:8). “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” (Rev. 21:8).
God’s omnipresence is particularly and fully expressed in Psalm 139: “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” This speaks of His essential presence. So immense is God that the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him: “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?” (1 Kings 8:27). “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” (Isa. 66:1).
Objections to God’s Omnipresence
It has been urged in objection to the omnipresence of God that Cain went out from the presence of the Lord: “And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden,” (Gen. 4:16), and that Jonah fled from God’s presence: “But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD,” (Jonah 1:3). But in reply it may be said that Cain only went away from the place of worship where God’s gracious presence was manifested. And Jonah was fleeing from the service of God, foolishly supposing that he could avoid being urged to do his duty. He soon found that God was everywhere, and could met with him on the sea as well as on the land.
The God with whom we have to do has no limitations. One of the sins charged against Israel was that they limited the Holy One of Israel: “Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel,” (Ps. 78:41), that is, they thought there were some things too much for Him; they circumscribed Him in their thoughts and in lack of faith.
There are no crises with God, and no secret places to Him. All things are naked and open to His eyes. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do,” (Heb. 4:13). There is no hiding from Him, and no withstanding Him when His anger is aroused and when He chooses to execute His wrath.
May both writer and reader say with the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting,” (Ps. 139:23, 24).
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