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Monday, April 8, 2019

THE SIMPLICITY OF GOD

My Sunday School class is taught by four men--a dean, a doctor, an engineer, and a lawyer.  To say we are digging deep into The Word is an understatement.  A couple of weeks ago, we were to study about 15 verses.  We never got past the second verse.  "God is love" was the stopping off point for a deep and challenging discussion on a Biblical theory I somehow had missed for all these years ~The Simplicity of God.  Before you run screaming to the theology police, I have decided the theory should perhaps be the Complex Simplicity of God.

NO ONE is saying God is simple!  We cannot begin to wrap our finite human brains around the deepness of Who God is.  Oh, we can make a stab at it by studying His Word, observing His Universe, and seeking Him, but we are simply not capable of understanding the unique complexity of God.  These four men stand before us Sunday after Sunday and give it their best shot to give us brief glimpses, but as much as they have studied--it is an unobtainable goal.

I have spent hours pondering what I heard that Sunday and could spend years of back porch discussions debating Who God is.  I am vastly inadequate when it comes to explaining the minute details of what I know.  Let me leave you with excerpts from the handout that Sunday.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

"The oldest of the doctrinal standards of the Reformed churches, the Belgic Confession (1561) begins with the declaration 'that there is a single and simple spiritual being, whom we call God.' 

The simplicity of God is an important truth.  By simple, we do not mean God is slow.  Nor do we mean that God is easy to understand.  Simple as a divine attribute is the opposite of compound.  The simplicity of God means God is not made up of his attributes.  He does consist of goodness, mercy, justice, and power.  He is goodness, mercy, justice and power.  Every attribute of God is identical with His essence. (Kevin Deyoung)

Divine simplicity is the concept that God does not exist in parts but is wholly unified, with no distinct attributes, and whose existence is synonymous with His essence.

As Christians, we believe in a God who is simple and not made up of parts.  God is not one part sovereign, one part just, one part immutable, one part omniscient, one part eternal, and one part loving.  Rather, He is all of His attributes at all times.  To understand any single attribute, we must understand it in relation to all His other attributes.  The love of God is eternal and sovereign.  The love of God is immutable and holy.  We treat all of His other attributes in the same way, God's justice is loving and eternal.  His holiness is loving and omniscient.  Our concept of God will stay on track only as we understand His love in relationship to His other attributes. (R.C. Sproul)."

Wrap your thinking around that!   When trying to digest this concept this week, I thought of my high school chemistry class (wish I had paid more attention).  There are the basic elements which cannot be further simplified--compare those to the attributes of God. Then there are mixtures and compounds which are combinations of these simple elements.  Mixtures can be separated into the basic elements again, but solutions, especially those with created by chemical reactions are a whole new deal.  They cannot be separated and are now a substance which is the combination of the elements.  That was the best analogy based upon the finite human mind I could come up with.

 So often we hear "God is good" stated when some really great thing has happened.  God is good---but His goodness is also wrapped around all the other attributes of God.  Now you understand why we got bogged down on "God is love."  I have come to believe this point of theology is difficult to comprehend because of the duplicity of man.  Our attributes are greatly influenced by the circumstances we are facing.  Sadly my love can be conditional, my mercy is not applied evenly, my justice is not even handed, and on and on.  The attributes of whom I am are not consistent, and never applied evenly.  God can not change who He is and that is dependent upon His attributes.  No one attribute has any prevalence over the other.  They operate not dependently but instead they are inter-dependent.  They are Who God is.  So--yes-God is love--but His love is just, merciful, everlasting, and on and on.

After over a week of chewing upon this, I do agree God is a God of Simplicity--an extremely complex simplicity that poor man has no ability to really understand--including me!  What a Great God we serve and the depths of Who He is is startling and yet comforting.  Seeking Him-Always Seeking Him.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
The one who does not love does not know God,
for God is love.
I John 4:7-8

6 comments:

  1. Oh, wow, Lulu, you have my mind reeling with this one! Yes, God is complex, but makes Himself "simple" enough for us to understand Him. I believe it was theologian, Karl Barth, who when asked to encapsulate his reason for belief in God said this, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Think I'll stick with him!
    Blessings!

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    1. That is more than enough, My Friend, for HE IS ENOUGH!
      Blessings, My Friend!

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  2. Great, great post my friend. smiles

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  3. Lulu ... Sorry if this comment will be long.

    It was at the age of 12, I was on the bus on the way to school, when it suddenly hit me ... it was as if Paul fell off his horse on the way to Damascus ... it was then , on the bus, that I knew for sure that God exists. Suddenly, all I had been taught by my parents and at school made sense. God HAD to be real. He HAD to exist. Nothing else makes sense other wise. I still remember the experience as if it just happened right now.

    Humans have a propensity of making simple things complicated. Perhaps it is their way of feeling important and showing that they are learned. I don't need Kevin Deyoung or R.C. Sproul or any other learned person to tell me, (or the 12 years old me), who, what or how God is.

    I rely on Christ's teachings. He did not say God is a spirit, a complex or simple being, or any other such words. He simply described Him as a loving Father. That's enough for me.

    God bless.

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    1. Victor, there is nothing really more important! Thank you for sharing your point of realization story. God’s Holy Spirit was nudging or slapping you up side the head that day and you believed. What a wonderful memory. God is more than enough.

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Your comments keep my writing and often cause me to think. A written form of a hug or a pat on the back and an occasional slap into reality---I treasure them all!