“Things Which Are Surely Believed Among Us”
The phrase, “Things which are most surely believed among us” is to be interpreted in no sectarian sense. “Food for the Flock” does not foster sectarianism. The phrase has been extracted from Luke 1:1, and, in using it as a caption for a series of articles touching our Faith, we wish to imply that those responsible for the production of the magazine unreservedly believe all that is contained in “the Scriptures of Truth,” and they write for that large body of Christians who share their like faith. All over the world, and at all times, God has those who like Paul say, “I believe God.”
Seeing that our beliefs are based on Holy Scripture, it follows that we should first consider the nature of those Scriptures, in order to satisfy ourselves that our faith is well-founded. Our second paper, therefore, will relate to …
The Doctrine of God
It is not to be expected that the readers of “Food for the Flock” would deny the being of God. It is the wicked of whom it is written: “All his thoughts are, There is no God” (Ps. 10:4 RV). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Ps. 14, 1). But such readers will doubtless from time to time come into contact with these persons, and it is well, therefore, that we should set out our reasons for our belief in God.
“Thou believest that God is one: thou doest well” because this is the unanimous testimony of Scripture. To us there is but “one God.” “There is none else beside Him.” “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (See James 2:19; 1 Cor. 8:6; Deut. 4:35; Rom. 11:36).
This is a jealous God and will brook no rival. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20,3). Idolatry is the vain attempt to oust God from His universe and to put in His stead that which, in fact, is but a lie. Isaiah leaves one in no doubt as to the contempt which God has for idols, and the judgment with which He will visit those who worship them.
One reason why man worships the creature rather than the Creator is because that Creator is invisible, and faith is a prerequisite if He is to be acknowledged. “No man hath seen nor can see” Him. He “dwells in unapproachable light.” “No man hath seen God at any time.” We are not forgetting that God has been manifested in Christ, but God in His essence never can be seen, nor ever will be seen. Even in the New Jerusalem which is to come down from God out of Heaven, the glory of God is contained within the ‘Lamp’ so that the ‘Lamp’ is seen, but the glory is veiled within it (Rev. 21:23 RV). He is the ‘Invisible God’ and consequently man cannot, by searching find Him out. He is unique and to Him alone properly applies the word ‘Only.’ He is supreme, and every principality, power, might and dominion owes its origin to Him. He is ‘far above all.’ Creation is the work of His hands and He transcends it all. God is not part of His creation for it owes its origin to Him. We neither believe in polytheism (many gods) nor do we believe in pantheism (everything is god). The reader should ponder 1 Timothy 6, vv. 15,16; the true God alone hath immortality essentially, for death cannot touch Him. He is all glorious and to Him alone rightly may honour and eternal might be ascribed.
This is, of course, a matter of faith. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him out” (Heb. 11:6). How strange it must appear when one bows down and speaks to a Person who is invisible, intangible, and inaudible, and yet he does so in the conviction that that Invisible Person can hear, and see, and speak, and act. The atheist may think he is far more rational in his attitude to such a matter. So, too, may the idolater imagine he has far more sense. Human imagination cannot apprehend such a Being, but there is an inward monitor which refuses to be silenced: its constant witness is that
and that man is accountable to Him for all his actions. Everything is naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom all have to do (Heb. 4,13). Unless the conscience be utterly seared, or unless the mind be hopelessly and willingly blinded, man has an awareness that God is, and that, go where he may, he cannot escape Him.
“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.” Read the whole of Psalm 139, from which this quotation comes, and it will be plain that the attributes of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence belong to the true God and to Him alone. It is the inward conviction of the inescapability of God that causes a man’s conscience to trouble him in regard to things he has done which otherwise could cause him no embarassment. Conscience makes him a coward: why? because he knows that God is.
All around us declares the Being of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament sheweth His handiwork” (Ps. 19:1). The “moon and the stars” are the work of His “fingers” (Ps. 8:3). From creation all may learn God’s eternal divinity and power (Rom. 1:20). Scientists are constantly telling us of the marvellous and precise accuracy in operation of the system which is all around us: its infinity: its grandeur. It postulates a Master Mind, for it could not have come into existence fortuitously. “In the beginning God created” is what we believe, although there is none who can explain how this was so.
In addition to this, both history and providence demonstrate the Being of God. History is the record of the outworkings of God’s foreshadowings. The notion of prophecy may be spurned by the rationalist, but the facts of history when related to those prophecies prove that One is, who Himself is omniscient and to whom the past and future are each alike. He knows the end from the beginning. God lit the prophetic lamp as soon as sin entered the world of man, and from time to time God revealed the future to His servants who wrote those communications. Time has shown them to be so accurate that attempts have been made by adversaries of the truth to post-date some of the prophecies! History and prophecy have fitted each other like key and lock: none but God could have forecast the future with such certainty.
He is omnipresent as Jonah discovered when he essayed to flee from His presence. He cannot be eluded for He is everywhere. “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” “Thou God seest me” said Hagar in her distress. “Thou art with me” may be said by any one of His sheep no matter place or time. His is a ‘real Presence.’
He is omnipotent. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Nothing is too hard for Him (Gen. 18:14; Jer. 32:17). Miracles may be denied by some, but is it to be supposed that the God who established the laws of Creation is unable to go outside of those laws at His will and to set other laws in operation which appear to be contrary to them? Even man makes lifeless objects to fly! We must not ‘limit’ God (Ps.78:41) to the range of our human conceptions. He is ‘the Lord God Almighty.’
He is, moreover, omniscient. The human heart is known by Him though none other knows it, not even the one who possesses it. It is deceitful above all things and incurably wicked: who can know it? Jehovah answers ‘I the Lord.’
These attributes may be a source of comfort to those who seek to please Him, but they should also be a source of anxiety to all who walk contrary to Him. A true apprehension of the infiniteness of the only True God is rarely found in man. Not even a righteous and incomparable man like Job had a right understanding of who God is. Not until God spake did Job mentally see God, and chapters 38 to 41 of the Book that goes under his name are most instructive as to the Greatness of God. A real awareness of the Being and Supremacy of God humbles a man in the dust, and he becomes as less than a grasshopper in his own eyes.
Three things are specifically stated of God in Scripture: (a) God is spirit: (b) God is light and (c) God is love.
God is Spirit
It is better so to read John 4:24 (RV m). It means that He is invisible, intangible and has neither body nor parts, although anthropomorphic terms are used of Him. He has ears, and eyes, and hands and feet, by which is meant that He can hear, and see, and work and walk. He, therefore, is the Living God —Jehovah, the eternally existent I AM (Exodus 3, and John 8,58). He is immortal.
God is Light
So wrote John (1 John 1:5). It is because of this that the present writer believes that Genesis 1:1 should be detached from the rest of the chapter. He subscribes to the theory of a space between the original creation named in verse 1, and the restoration of that creation after its ruin as recorded in the rest of the chapter. Could God have created anything in a state contrary to what He Himself is? Could He have created a universe in a state of chaos seeing He “is not the author of confusion?” Surely whatever He does must accord with what He is in His own nature! He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16) and is absolutely holy, just and good. No wonder His law is so spoken of (Rom. 7:12). There is no defilement in Him: He is altogether upright and pure.
God is Love
Here is something more profound. Men doubt it: sometimes the believer, when in adversity or bereavement, is also prone to doubt. We cannot learn this from creation, which because of the fall is red in tooth and claw. Nor can we learn it from history which, as recorded by man, seems to exalt the strong and drive the weakest to the wall.
“God is love I surely know
By my Saviour’s depth of woe.”
Yes, we can only discover the heart of God and learn His love by the cross of Christ. But seeing that we are to devote a paper to that theme we cannot develop it here.
The names by which God reveals Himself in Old Testament times are significant. It would take far too much space to examine them fully: the reader should carefully trace them out in Scripture, such names as El, Elohim, Jehovah, Jehovah-Elohim, Elayon (Most High), El Shaddai, and many others. They all declare something of the infinite fulness which resides in Him.
In conclusion, may we ask how much does this truth weigh with us and affect our ways? There is no need to convince the demons of the being of God: they believe and tremble in consequence. Nor is there any need to convince the believer of the Being of God, but in these days, which are marked by so much shallowness, one wonders whether we are God-conscious to the extent that we ought to be. Surely if our professed belief in the Being of God were real and not nominal, much that is discreditable in speech and conduct would disappear as altogether unsuitable for His holy ear and eye. Enoch, in his day, walked with this God and had the testimony that he pleased Him. Should we do less?