The Godhood of God! What is meant by the expression? This: the omnipotency of God, the absolute sovereignty of God. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that God is God. We affirm that God is something more than an empty title: that God is something more than a mere figure-head: that God is something more than a far-distant Spectator, looking helplessly on at the suffering which sin has wrought. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that He is "King of kings and Lord of lords." We affirm that God is something more than a disappointed, dis-satisfied, defeated Being, who is filled with benevolent desires but lacking in power to carry them out. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that He is "the Most High." We affirm that God is something more than One who has endowed man with the power of choice, and because He has done this is therefore unable to compel man to do His bidding. We affirm that God is something more than One who has waged a protracted war with the Devil and has been worsted. When we speak of the Godhood of God we affirm that He is the Almighty.
To speak of the Godhood of God then, is to say that God is on the Throne, on the Throne as a fact and not as a say so; on a Throne that is high above all. To speak of the Godhood of God is to say that the Helm is in His hand, and that He is steering according to His own good pleasure. To speak of the Godhood of God is to say that He is the Potter, that we are the clay, and that out of the clay He shapes one as a vessel to honor and another as a vessel to dishonor according to His own sovereign rights. To speak of the Divine Despot doing "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). Therefore, to speak of the Godhood of God is to give the mighty Creator His rightful place; it is to recognize His exalted majesty; it is to own His universal scepter.
The Godhood of God stands at the base of Divine revelation: "in the beginning God" -- in solemn majesty, eternal, un-caused, self-sufficient. This is the foundation doctrine, and upon it all other doctrines must be built, and any other doctrine which is not built upon it will inevitably fail and fall in the day of testing. At the beginning of all true theology lies the postulate that God is God -- absolute and irresistible. It must be so. Without this we face a closed door: with it we have a key which unlocks every mystery. This is true of Creation; exclude an Almighty God and nothing is left but blind and illogical materialism. This is true of Revelation: the Bible is the solitary miracle in the realm of literature; exclude God from it and you have a miracle and no miracle-Worker to produce it. This is true of Salvation. Salvation is "of the Lord," entirely so; exclude God from any aspect or part of salvation, and salvation vanishes. This is true of History, for history is His story: it is the outworking in time of His eternal purpose; exclude God from history and all is meaningless and purposeless. The absolute Godhood of God is the only guaranty that in the end it shall be fully and finally demonstrated that God is "All in all" (1 Cor.15:28).
"In the beginning God." This is not only the first word of Holy Scripture but it must be the firm axiom of all true philosophy -- the philosophy of human history, for example. Instead of beginning with man and his world and attempting to reason back to God, we must begin with God and reason forward to man and his world. It is failure to do this which leaves unsolved the "riddle of the universe." Begin with the world as it is today and try to reason back to God, and what is the result? If you are honest of heart and logical of mind, this -- that God has little or nothing at all to do with the world. But begin with God and reason forward to the world as it is today and much light is cast on the problem. Because God is holy, His anger burns against sin. Because God is righteous, His judgments fall on those who rebel against Him. Because God is faithful, the solemn threatenings of His Word are being fulfilled. Because God is omnipotent, no problem can master Him, no enemy defeat Him, and no purpose of His can be withstood. It is just because God is who He is and what He is that we now behold what we do -- the gathering clouds of the storm of Divine wrath which will shortly burst upon the earth.
"For of Him, and through Him and to Him, are all things" (Rom.11:36). In the beginning -- God. In the center -- God. At the end -- God. But as soon as this is insisted upon men will stand up and tell you what they think about God. They will prate about God working consistently with His own character, as though a worm of the earth was capable of determining what was consistent and what was inconsistent with the Divine perfections. People will say with an air of profound wisdom that God must deal justly with His creatures, which is true, of course, but who is able to define Divine justice, or any other of God'sattributes? The truth is that man is utterly incompetent for forming a proper estimate of God'scharacter and ways, and it is because of this that God has given us a revelation of His mind, and in that revelation He plainly declares, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher then your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Is.55:8, 9). In view of such a scripture as this it is only to be expected that much of the contents of the Bible conflicts with the sentiments of the carnal mind which is "enmity against God." And further: in view of such a Scripture as the above we need not be surprised that much of human history is so perplexing to our understandings.
The natural world, to begin with the simplest, presents sufficient problems to humble man, were it not that he was blinded by pride. Why should there be diseases and remedies for them? Why poisons and their antidotes? Why rats and mice, and cats to kill them? Why not have left un-made the evils, and then no necessity for the instruments to remove them! Ah, why are we so slow to learn that God'sways are different from ours? And when we enter the human realm the mystery deepens. What is man placed here for at all? To learn some lesson or lessons or to undergo some test or experience which he could not learn or undergo elsewhere? If so, then why is such a large proportion of the race removed in infancy, before such lessons can be learned and such experiences be gained? Why indeed! Such questions as these might be multiplied indefinitely, but sufficient has been said to point out the manifest limitations of human wisdom. And if we are confronted with insolvable problems in the domain of nature and of human existence, what of the Divine realm! Who can fathom the ways of the Almighty? Canst thou by searching find out God? No indeed. "Clouds and darkness are round about Him" (Ps.97:2). If God were not a mystery He would not be God to us.
But why write in this strain? Surely the need of our day is for that which will strengthen faith, not that which paralyzes it. True; but what is faith? we mean faith in the abstract. Faith is, essentially, an attitude rather than an act: it is that which lies behind the act. Faith is an attitude of dependency, of recognized weakness. Faith is a coming to the end of ourselves and looking outside of ourselves -- away from ourselves. Faith is that which gives God His proper place. And if we give God His proper place, we must take our proper place, and that is in the dust. And what is there that will bring the haughty, self-sufficient creature into the dust so quickly as a sight of the Godhead of God! Nothing is so humbling to the human heart as a true recognition of the absolute sovereignty of God. So then, instead of seeking to weaken faith, we write to promote and strengthen it. The chief trouble is that so much that passes for faith today is really only maudlin sentimentality. The faith of Christendom in this twentieth century is mere credulity, and the "god" of many of our churches is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but a mere figment of the imagination. Modern theology has invented a "god" which the infinite mind can understand, whose ways are pleasing to the natural man, a "god" who is altogether "such a one as" (Ps.50:21) those who profess to worship him, a "god" concerning whom there is little or no mystery. But how different the God which the Holy Scriptures reveal! Of Him it is said, His ways are "past finding out" (Rom.11:33). To particularize:
1. The "god" of the moderns is altogether lacking in power. The popular idea of today is that deity is filled with amiable intentions but that Satan is preventing the making good of them. It is not God'swill, so we are told, that there should be any wars, for wars are something which men are unable to reconcile with their ideas of Divine mercy. Hence, the conclusion is, that all wars are of the Devil. Plagues and earthquakes, famines and tornadoes, are not sent from God, but are attributed solely to natural causes. To affirm that the Lord God sent the recent Influenza epidemic as a judgment scourge, would be to shock the sensibilities of the modern mind. All such things as this are a cause of grief to "god" for "he" desires nought but the happiness of everybody.
2. The "god" of the moderns is altogether lacking in wisdom. The popular belief is that God loves everybody, and that it is His will that every child of Adam should be saved. But if this be true, He is strongly lacking in wisdom, for He knows quite well that under existing conditions the majority will be lost. If He is really desirous that every creature should have an equal chance to be saved, then why suffer so many to be born into families (of criminal parents, for example) and be brought up under conditions where they will never hear the Gospel -- and there are many thousands such in this country. If it should be said in reply God has not created these criminal conditions, the point is readily ceded, but nevertheless God is responsible for sending children into them, for the fruit of the womb is solely in His hands. Why not produce sterility among criminals, if it is contrary to His will for children to be born into such conditions, conditions which frequently preclude all reading of the Scriptures and all hearing the Gospel.
3. The "god" of the moderns is lacking in holiness. That crime deserves punishment is still allowed in part, though more and more the belief is gaining ground that the criminal is really an object of pity rather than censure, and that he stands in need of education and reformation rather than of punishment. But that SIN -- sins of thought as well as deed, sins of the heart as well as life, sins of omission as well as commission, the sinful root itself as well as the fruit -- should be hated by God, that His body nature burns against it, is a concept that has gone almost entirely out of fashion; and that the sinner himself is hated by God is indignantly denied even among those who boast most loudly of their orthodoxy.
4. The "god" of the moderns is altogether lacking in a sovereign prerogative. Whatever rights the deity of present-day Christendom may be supposed to possess in theory, in fact they must be subordinated to the "rights" of the creature. It is denied, almost universally, that the rights of the Creator over His creatures is that of the Potter over the clay. When it is affirmed that God has the right to make one as a vessel unto honor, and another as a vessel unto dishonor, the cry of injustice is instantly raised. When it is affirmed that salvation is a gift and that this gift is bestowed on whom God pleases, it is said He is partial and unfair. If God has any gifts to impart, He must distribute them evenly, or else bestow them on those that merit them, whoever they may be. And thus God is allowed less freedom than I, who may disburse my charity as I best please, giving to one beggar a quarter, to another a dime, and to a third nothing at all if I think well.
How different is the God of the Bible from the "god" of the moderns!! The God of Scripture is all-mighty. He is one who speaks and it is done, who commands and it stands fast. He is the One with whom "all things are possible" and "who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph.1:11). He is the One "who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance" (Is.40:12). He is the One with whom "the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance," with Whom "all nations before Him are as nothing and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity" (Is.40:15, 17). He is One that "sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in; that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity" (Is.40:22, 23). He is the One who declares, "Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretched forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself. That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish. That confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers; that saith to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, Ye shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof. That saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers: That saith of Cyrus (a heathen idolater) he is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure" (Is.44:24-28). Such is the God of the Bible, the God who throws out the challenge, "To whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?" (Is.40:18). And as though that were not enough, in the same chapter He asks again, "To whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: He calleth them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one faileth...Hast thou not known? has thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?" (Is.40:25, 26, 28).
The God of Scripture is infinite in wisdom. No secret can be hidden from Him, no problem can baffle Him, nothing is too hard for Him. God is omniscient -- "Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite" (Ps.147:5). Therefore is it said, "There is no searching of His understanding" (Is.40:28). Hence it is, that in a revelation from Him we expect to find truths which transcend the reach of the creature'smind, and therefore the presumptuous folly and wickedness of those who are but "dust and ashes" undertaking to pronounce upon the reasonableness or unreasonableness of doctrines which are above their reason, and of speculating upon things that are a matter of pure revelation. Instead of coming to the Scriptures to be taught thereof, men first fill their minds with objections, and then instead of interpreting the Divine Oracles according to their obvious meaning, they submit and twist them according to the dictates of their own finite reason. Surely if we are unable to comprehend the mode of God'sexistence, because it is infinitely above us, then for the same reason we are unable to comprehend the counsels of infinite wisdom. Such is the explicit assertion of Holy Writ itself -- "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor.2:14).
The God of Scripture is infinite in Holiness. The "only true God" is He who hates sin with a perfect abhorrence and whose nature eternally burns against it. He is the One who beheld the wickedness of the antediluvians and who opened the windows of Heaven and poured down the flood of His righteous indignation. He is the One who rained fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah and utterly destroyed these cities of the plain. He is the One who sent the plagues upon Egypt, and destroyed her haughty monarch together with his hosts at the Red Sea. He is the One who caused the earth to open its mouth and swallow alive Korah and his rebellious company. Yes, He is the One who "spared not His own Son" when He was "made sin for us...that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." So holy is God and such is the antagonism of His nature against evil, that for one sin He banished our first parents from Eden; for one sin He cursed the posterity of Ham; for one sin He turned Lot'swife into a pillar of salt; for one sin He sent out fire and devoured the sons of Aaron; for one sin Moses died in the wilderness; for one sin Achan and his family were all stoned to death; for one sin the servant of Elisha was smitten with leprosy. Behold therefore, not only the goodness, but also "the severity of God" (Rom.11:22). And this is the God that every Christ-rejector has yet to meet in judgment!
The God of Scripture has a will that is irresistible. Man talks and boasts of his will, but God also has a will! Men had a will on the plains of Shinar and undertook to build a tower whose top should reach unto heaven; but what came of it? God had a will, too, and their willful effort came to naught. Pharaoh had a will when he hardened his heart and refused to allow Jehovah'speople to go into the wilderness and there worship Him, but what came of it? God had a will, too, and being Almighty His will was performed. Balak had a will when he hired Balaam to come and curse the Hebrews; but of what avail was it? The Canaanites had a will when they determined to prevent Israel occupying the promised land; but how far did they succeed? Saul had a will when he hurled his javelin at David, but instead of slaying the Lord'sanointed, it entered the wall instead. Jonah had a will when he refused to go and preach to the Ninevites; but what came of it? Nebuchadnezzar had a will when he thought to destroy the three Hebrews; but God had a will too, and so the fire did not harm them. Herod had a will when he purposed to slay the Child Jesus, and had there been no living and reigning God, his evil desires had been effected; but in daring to pit his puny will against the irresistible will of the Almighty, his efforts came to naught. Yes, my reader, and you had a will when you formed your plans without first seeking counsel of the Lord, and therefore did He overthrow them. As well might a worm seek to resist the tread of an elephant; as well might a babe step between the railroad tracks and attempt to push back the express train; as well might a child seek to prevent the ocean from rolling, as for a creature to try and resist the outworking of the purpose of the Lord God -- "O Lord God of our fathers, art not Thou God in heaven? and rulest not Thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in Thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?" (2 Chron.20:6).
The God of Scripture is absolute Sovereign. Such is His own claim: "This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. For the Lord of hosts hast purposed, and who shall disannul it? and His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Is.14:26, 27). The Sovereignty of God is absolute and irresistible: "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). The Sovereignty of God is true not only hypothetically, but in fact. That is to say, God exercises His sovereignty, exercises it both in the natural realm, and in the spiritual. One is born black, another white. One is born in wealth, another in poverty. One is born with a healthy body, another sickly and crippled. One is cut off in childhood, another lives to old age. One is endowed with five talents, another with but one. And in all these cases it is God the Creator who maketh one to differ from another, and "none can stay His hand." So also is it in the spiritual realm. One is born in a pious home and is brought up in the fear and abomination of the Lord; another is born of criminal parents and is reared in vice. One is the object of many prayers, the other is not prayed for at all. One hears the Gospel from early childhood, another never hears it. One sits under a Scriptural ministry, another hears nothing but error and heresy. Of those who do hear the Gospel, one has his heart opened by the Lord to receive the truth, while another is left to himself. One is "ordained to eternal life" (Acts 13:48), while another is "ordained to condemnation" (Jude 4). To whom He will God shows mercy, and whom he wills He "hardens" (Rom.9:18).