Author Archive for Randy Seiver


Calvinistic Evangelism-The Theological Foundation-Chapter Ten-The Authority of Scripture

As I pointed out when I commented on Acts seventeen, we will never become engaged in spreading God’s good news as long as we believe everyone’s belief and practice is equally valid. Paul’s evangelistic efforts were prompted by his conviction that the God he worshipped was the only true God and that all others were empty vanities. He was convinced there was only one way to be right with the creator of heaven and earth and that unless his hearers repented, they would perish in their sins.

The basis for this belief was his unswerving conviction that the Scriptures are the inspired record of God’s special revelation of himself and his glory to his people. As we read the gospels, it is clear that Jesus also held the Scriptures of the Old Testament in the highest regard. It was he who asserted that neither the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet nor the smallest mark distinguishing one letter from another would pass away until all was fulfilled. In John ten, he assured his listeners that “the Scriptures cannot be broken” (See John 10:35). Both he and his apostles spoke as with one voice in affirming the inspiration and inviolability of the sacred Scriptures.

Only by Revelation


We must not fail to appreciate that we would have no message to preach apart from God’s special revelation of his wisdom in the contrivance of the plan of redemption. Such a plan would have seemed as foolish and ineffectual to us as it does to those who are perishing in their sins, if God had not revealed it to the apostles. There are two ways we could approach the task of evangelism. We could approach it in the way that seems right to us. We could ask, “What is the minimum amount of truth we could preach to attract the maximum amount of people?” After all, we know not only from the Scriptures but also from long years of experience that people prefer the words of a lying prophet to the truth of God. The other approach is to trust that God will use the “foolishness” of the message he has entrusted to us to accomplish his purpose.

This was exactly the issue Paul was discussing in 1 Corinthians two.  The choices he presents are two.  He could have preached a message that was in accordance with human wisdom, the wisdom of this age, or he could choose to preach the message God had made known to him by the ministry of his Spirit. He chose to preach the message of a crucified Messiah so that his hearers’ faith might not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Beginning in verse six of that chapter he begins to draw a distinction between the wisdom of this age and God’s wisdom that had heretofore been hidden but that God has predestined for our glory (v. 7). He, of course, is referring to the mystery of the gospel as it is revealed in the Scriptures.

His point is that we do not proclaim this message of salvation through a Christ who has been crucified because it suits our philosophical scheme or because it seems so logical to us. Such a message would never have entered our minds apart from divine revelation. This is what he wrote— “But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’- these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God” (vv. 9-10).

We are bold to proclaim the message that God has entrusted to us because we are convinced that it is his inspired and inerrant Word that has been made known to us through the apostles. It is a message we never would have imagined apart from the revelatory ministry of God’s Spirit.

Plenary Verbal Inspiration

When we speak of plenary verbal inspiration we simply mean the Scriptures are fully inspired in every part and that the very words the biblical writers chose to convey what God had revealed to them were determined by the Holy Spirit. We do not mean this in the sense of mechanical dictation, but in the sense that he supernaturally protected them from error in what they wrote. Paul stated the idea of verbal inspiration very succinctly when he wrote, “and we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but [in words] taught by the Spirit (v.13). Of course, there are other well-known verses that teach that this kind of divine activity extended to every part of the sacred Scriptures. One of the better known verses tells us “All Scripture is God breathed. . .” (2 Tim. 3:16). Of course, when this verse was written, Paul was primarily referring to the Scripture of the Old Testament. He told Timothy that he had known these Scriptures from infancy (see v. 15). Assuming Timothy was about thirty years old when the apostle wrote this to him, much of the New Testament Scriptures would not have been written when he was an infant.

Peter makes it clear in his second epistle that the prophesies of the Scripture were not initiated by the prophets themselves but “holy men of God spoke as they were born along by the Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:20-21).  It is significant that he does not hesitate to include the writings of the apostle Paul with the “other Scriptures” (see 2 Peter 3:16). Additionally, Paul stated quite unequivocally in his first epistle to the Corinthians that the words he wrote to the churches were the commandments of Christ himself.  He wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). He left no question about the origin of his gospel. He wrote to the churches of Galatia, “. . .the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). To the Corinthians he defends the fact that when he speaks as Christ’s
official representative, it is “Christ speaking in me” (2 Cor. 13:3).

The apostle John established the standard by which those professing to know God might know whether their profession was valid or not.  That standard was the word of the apostles. He wrote, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us [it appears that by “us” he refers to himself and the other apostles]; by this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 John 4:6).

There can be little doubt that when the apostles spoke or wrote, they were conscious that they were doing so as Christ’s official representatives. When they spoke, he was speaking in them. This has been the understanding of the church through the centuries. It was not until the rise of higher criticism that any who wished to call themselves Christians questioned the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.

Biblical Inerrancy


It follows logically that if these men Jesus had chosen were guided and borne along by the Spirit to the extent that the very words they wrote were the very Word of God, their writings must be without error. Before he went to the cross, Jesus had promised the apostles that after his departure, he would send his Spirit to them so that they would not be left to fend for themselves. As part of that promise, he assured them the Spirit would guide them into all truth. He said, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. . ..” (John 16:13 We must not understand this as a promise to believers in general as though everyone in whom the Spirit dwells will have a perfect understanding of all truth. If that were the case, every true believe would perfectly agree with every other believer. This is clearly not the case now nor has it ever been the case.

What is even more important to us is that Jesus, himself, promised that the Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth and away from error. The product of this guidance were the inerrant manuscripts that came from the apostle’s pens.

John Jefferson Davis has written about biblical inerrancy as follows: “The inerrancy of scripture is a consequence of its verbal, plenary inspiration. Scripture is free from error in all its teachings and affirmations because it is in its entirety the product of an infinite, all-wise, and all-powerful God who cannot err” (Davis, 1985, 186-87).

Although it is beyond the scope of this chapter to examine the evangelical position on inerrancy in great detail, it is important to be aware of the details of our affirmations and denials. I would suggest a careful reading of the “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy” that can be found online.  I would also suggest that you read “Scripture: Word of the Great King” in Davis’s book referenced above.

We should make it clear that as evangelicals, we do not claim the inerrancy of any one translation of the Scriptures [There is, of course, that radial fringe within Fundamentalism that insists on the inspiration and inerrancy of the King James Version, but such a view is not widely held in the scholarly community]. Additionally, we do not claim that there have been no errors in the transmission of the text of Scripture. When we speak of biblical inerrancy, we refer to the autographs written by the biblical writers. We admit that we no longer have those original manuscripts available to us, though we do have very early copies of those manuscripts. What is important to us is that textual criticism has shown a remarkable agreement among all the text types from which the Bible has been translated. In the comparatively few texts in which variants exist, those variants have little, if any, effect on the meaning the author intended to convey. We can safely say that no major biblical doctrine has been affected by any textual variant that has occurred in the process of scribal transmission. The practical result is that we may have complete confidence in the Bible we hold in our hands [I say this about translations, not about paraphrases. There have been those injudicious individuals who have, in their zeal to promote their own theological slant in paraphrasing the Scriptures, read their theological views into the text. These are not to be trusted in any sense].

When we proclaim the biblical message, we are proclaiming God’s message. It is his good news that comes with his authority. We have no reason or right to alter it or to withhold any part of it. When we proclaim it, we do so with the authority of God himself. Additionally, we may do so with complete confidence that he will bless that message in the manifestation of his own glory.

Davis, John Jefferson, Foundations of Evangelical Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House) 1985.


Boasting Excluded


The Effect of Sound Theology.



YouTube Video–Salvation by Force?


Calvinistic Evangelism–Chapter Nine–God’s Purpose in Creating the World

“God Has Made All Things for Himself”


There is no biblical truth that is more fundamentally important for all of life than the proposition that God has made all things for himself. This is a controlling theme in the Scriptures. In Paul’s glorious doxology at the end of Romans eleven, we read the following: “. . . for of him [the Lord], and through him, and to him are all things. To him be glory forever, Amen” (Romans 11:36). Jonathan Edwards wrote, “. . .as all things are from God, as their first cause and fountain, so all things tend to him, and in their progress come nearer and nearer to him through all eternity: which argues, that he who is their first cause is their last end” (Edwards, 102). In the immediately preceding verse, Paul has written, “For who has first given to him that it might be repaid to him.” Of course, the answer is clear. No one has first given anything to him.  If we give him anything it is but the return of that which he has given us “for of [or from] him . . .are all things.” And his purpose in thus giving to us all things is that he might enjoy us enjoying him, thus he and the manifestation of his glory is the end for which he created all things. God has made all things for himself. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” That is, what is the purpose or goal that our existence on earth is intended to accomplish? The answer is meaningful and profound— “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” It should not escape our notice that human enjoyment is a significant part of this answer, though it is not the sort of enjoyment sinful people usually seek. One reason God has chosen to reveal himself as he has is so that his creatures might enjoy him as he enjoys himself.

In Hebrews chapter two, verse ten, the writer describes God as the one “for whom are all things and by whom are all things.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:6 “. . .for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist.” In his Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Made the World in the first volume of his works, Jonathan Edward has compiled an impressive number of Scriptures that show that in all God’s works of creation and providence, his ultimate end has been expressed in such phrases as the following: “that he might be glorified,” “to make a name for himself,” “to make his glory known,” “to make his name known in the earth,” and “that his name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” I will not take the time here to reproduce all the many verses that teach this truth. I would simply refer the reader either to Edward’s dissertation or to the use of a good concordance. It is impossible to read the Bible carefully without being impacted by the truth that God’s purpose in creating the world was to make his glory known.

This truth has profound implications for evangelism, no less than for every other area of the believer’s life. There are at least three areas of our thinking that should be governed by understanding this point of divine revelation: 1. It is the reason we proclaim God’s message, 2. It helps us understand the true nature and purpose of God’s redemptive work, 3. It helps us understand the sense in which God sincerely desires the sinner’s salvation. Let’s consider those points one by one.

Why Preach the Gospel?

I would be a wealthy man today if I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone respond to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in the sinner’s salvation with the question, “If that is true, why should we preach the gospel?” One would think these folks would find new objections. The question really implies that unless we are able to retain some measure of control in the matter of the sinner’s salvation, there is no reason to be involved. It immediately betrays the fact that they have no idea about the true purpose of gospel proclamation.

I have even heard people say, “If I believed that were true, I wouldn’t waste my time witnessing to anyone.” I tend to see such people as playground brats who announce that if their playmates don’t do things their way, they are going to take their ball and go home. How audacious can a person be to announce before God and everyone that unless everything is exactly as they would like to imagine it to be, they are simply going to refuse to cooperate. After reminding them it isn’t their time, just as it isn’t their breath, their money, their life etc., I proceed to speak to their issue.

God’s Command

The first answer should be obvious to anyone who understands the relationship of a slave to his master. It is an answer that every parent has uttered and every child has heard. We should proclaim God’s message because he told us to. It is not ours to question what he intends to accomplish through our preaching. It may be his intention use us to harden and condemn an entire generation. If he does so, it is his prerogative to do so and we have no right to question him for doing it. Think of Isaiah’s commission in Isaiah chapter six. I have sat in on many missionary conferences over the years, and have found that in almost every one of them someone preached a missionary appeal based on Isaiah 6:1-8 ending with Isaiah’s words, “Here am I, send me.”  Yet, in all my years I have never heard a missionary challenge that included verses nine through thirteen. Consider Jehovah’s purpose for Isaiah’s ministry as stated in those verses.  He said to Isaiah,

Go tell this people: ‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of the people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn and be healed. Then I said, ‘For how long O lord?’ And he answered: ‘Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the LORD has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. . .. (Isa. 6:9-12).  John tells that these words were fulfilled in Jesus’ ministry (see—John 12:37-41).

This describes a message of judgment on an unbelieving people and lays the responsibility for their rebellion and unbelief squarely at their feet. It describes God’s withdrawal of his common, restraining mercy from them as a result of their rebellion. Can you imagine Isaiah replying to Jehovah and saying, “Well, if that is what you have planned, I just not going to waste my time?” Such a response would be inconceivable. He fulfilled his commission because God had sent him, and he understood that the results of his ministry were God’s business and not his. We spread God’s message of proffered pardon because he has commanded us to do so. We truly need no other reason.

The Necessary Means

There is a second reason for proclaiming God’s message of pardon. It is that God has ordained to use means to accomplish his saving purpose. Though he is able to work above means, in means and contrary to means, he usually works through means to accomplish his plans. Isaiah 46:9-11 instructs us that the LORD who knows the end from the beginning and from ancient time the things that are not yet done and who has determined to accomplish all his purpose and pleasure, “summons a bird of prey from he east and a man to fulfill his purpose from a far-off land” (see verse 11).

Paul asks in Romans 10:14-15, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” His questions simply point up the reality that God does not intend to accomplish his purpose apart from the use of means.

Being Aligned with God’s Purpose in Creating the World

Although the two answers I have given to this objection are legitimate and true, they do not truly touch the root of the matter. Though it is true we have a duty to perform and that God intends to realize his purpose through the use of means, there is clearly a higher reason that we make God’s message known. It is that in doing so, we are brought into alignment with the goal for which God created the world. This divine purpose is no less evident in God redemptive design than it was in his creative purpose. In Ephesians one, the apostle Paul continues to hammer home the same thought concerning the ultimate end of God’s great work of salvation. In relation to God’s predestined plan he wrote, “In love, he predestined us to be adopted as sons, through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace. . .” (vv. 5-6). In verse twelve he states God’s purpose in choosing us and granting us an inheritance in Christ. It is “that we might be for the praise of his glory.” Then he writes about God’s crowning work in the redemption of the purchased possession at the last day and the granting of our full inheritance and states that it is all “to the praise of his glory” (v. 14).

The answer to the question, “Why should we preach the gospel?” is clear. We preach the gospel because it is in line with God’s great purpose—that is, to make his glory known in the earth.  The Westminster divines understood this well. In writing about God’s decree concerning the salvation of his elect people they began with the words, “By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory. . .” (Chapter Three, “Of God’s Eternal Decree,” #3).

This understanding can help us remain faithful to our task of proclaiming God’s message even when it seems no one is heeding the message. One of the early missionaries in the modern missionary movement, William Carey, labored seven long years before he saw anyone converted to Christ. He was able to remain faithful because his primary purpose in proclaiming the gospel was not the conversion of sinners but a manifestation of God’s glory in the proclamation of his message. I am not suggesting that the conversion of sinners is not important but that it is not our preeminent concern. Paul wrote in his second epistle to the Corinthians that he was always successful in his proclamation of the gospel whether his hearers heeded his message or not. He wrote,

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life (2 Cor. 2: 14-16).

Paul’s meaning here is that he is always triumphant because Christ has triumphed over him by the power of almighty grace and leads him in a triumphal procession for all to see. He ministers not as a conquering hero but as a conquered bondservant. Everywhere Christ leads him, he diffuses his Savior’s aroma. It is immaterial whether those who experience this fragrance of Christ react positively or negatively to it since the apostle’s goal is not to be pleasing to men but to be pleasing to God [“the aroma of Christ to God”] (see Galatians 1:10). It is as he considers the manifestation God’s glory and the diffusion of Christ’s fragrance in the gospel that Paul rejoices that he is Christ’s captive who is led in triumphal procession.

We must always keep the following words in mind as we are involved in any aspect of ministry. Peter wrote,

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:10-11).

The Nature and Purpose of God’s Redemptive Work

One of the many persistent controversies that threatens the purity of the gospel concerns the nature of conversion. According to some, conversion amounts to nothing more than the sinner’s decision to let Jesus be his Savior. Once he his made his decision, the new believer perhaps should become a disciple and follow Jesus, but if he does not, there is no reason to question the reality of his “faith.” Those who hold this view claim those who take a high view of conversion teach that salvation is by works because they insist that genuine faith will give evidence of itself in works of obedience to Christ.

I will examine this issue in greater detail when I write about what we mean when we speak about salvation, but for now, I want to focus on salvation as a revelation of God’s glory. Once we understand God’s end in creating the world, the nature and purpose of his redemptive work become clear since his purpose in creation and his purpose in redemption are the same. It is interesting that the apostle Paul sets these two great works of God side by side as he speaks about God’s work of conversion. He wrote, “For God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:6). The very God who, by the fiat of his will, spoke the universe into existence and commanded the light to chase away the darkness, has spoken a word of spiritual creation and caused his light to dispel our spiritual darkness. The purpose of this act of spiritual creation that theologically we call “regeneration” was the revelation of God’s glory in the face of Christ. The point of our conversion is that moment at which God removes the veil of unbelief from our darkened hearts and causes the resplendent light of his glory to flood our souls. Even Charles Wesley described conversion this way. He wrote,

Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night.

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—

I woke; the dungeon flamed with light.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

This verse is found in a context in which the apostle is contrasting the New Covenant with the Old Covenant and the inability of the Old Covenant to fully reveal God’s glory. He describes the universal Christian experience as follows: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” This is in contrast to Moses who veiled his face because God’s glory that was reflected on his face was fading. Instead of the ever fading glory of the Law as covenant, the New Covenant believer is being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory.

It is God’s purpose in the redemption of his people to bring many sons to glory, and the ultimate goal in redemption as in creation is the manifestation of his glory. Remember what Jesus prayed for believers in John seventeen, twenty-four, “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory. . .” The manifestation of his glory is God’s ultimate purpose in his great work of salvation just as it was his ultimate end in creating the universe.

All these expressions are a far cry from the cheap and tawdry jargon of modern evangelicalism that promises people a home in heaven when they die but leaves them in their self-gratifying, self-centered, course of life in which their sinful delights are the chief objects of their worship. James Packer was certainly right when he wrote concerning the “new gospel,” “It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do.” Then, speaking of the old gospel he wrote, “. . .its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God.  (Packer’s Introduction).

We proclaim the good news of redemption because when we do so, we make God’s glory known, and in doing so we are in harmony with God’s primary goal in creation, providence and redemption. The gospel is about more than forgiveness; its goal is nothing short of the full restoration of believers to the image and glory of God.

In What Sense Does God Desire that All Repent?


The Bible knows nothing of the sloppy sentimentalism that characterizes so much of modern evangelism. Our God is not a well-meaning but doddering old grand-father in the sky who would save sinners if he could but is unable to get the job done. Neither is he one who is bound to be fair to sinners by acting toward all in the same way. He does what he wills, when he wills, and in whatever way he wills, and not one of his creatures has the right to call him into question for anything he has done. There is not a shred of biblical evidence that he has sovereignly decreed that he will not violate the sanctity of the sinner’s libertarian free will. We must reject once and for all the notion that God has in any way linked his eternal happiness with the salvation of sinners. The divine felicity does not in any sense depend on the sinner’s willingness to comply with the demands of the gospel. God’s pleasure is not dependent on his creatures.

The pitiful and powerless Jesus of modern evangelism who stands helplessly outside the sinner’s heart’s door is both impotent and ignorant. Not only is such a “Savior” powerless to save; he must wait to see if the sinner is willing to open to him. Listen to the blasphemy of this Arminian anthem,

Time after time he has waited before,

And now he is waiting again

To see if you’re willing to open the door.

Oh, how he wants to come in.

Even the evangelical Arminians of days gone by understood that God has at least foreseen the faith of all who will believe. This Jesus does not have a clue. Such a representation rather evokes our pity than our praise. Instead of exhibiting the Savior’s glory, it extols the sinner’s sovereignty and autonomy. Not only should such words never pass our lips, but they should never even enter our minds.

Having said that, I want to suggest that there is a sense in which we can genuinely say that God desires the sinner’s repentance. This sense is also related to God’s chief design in the works of creation, providence and redemption. This desire concerns the manifestation of his glory and is directly related to his nature. Since God is holy, he cannot but delight in holiness and be grieved by wickedness wherever he finds it. Because he is good, he delights in mercy and has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He delights in the manifestation of his own glorious image and rejoices when that image begins to be restored in those who repent. For this reason, he stretches out his arms all day long to a disobedient and rebellious people. For this reason, he commands all people everywhere to repent.

Jonathan Edwards wrote,

And as God delights in his own beauty, he must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness; [emphasis mine] which is a conformity to and participation of it, as truly as a brightness of a jewel, held in the sun’s beams, is a participation or derivation of the sun’s brightness, though immensely less in degree. And then it must be considered wherein this holiness in the creature consists, viz. in love, which is the comprehension of all true virtue; and primarily in love to God, which is exercised in a high esteem of God, admiration of his perfections, complacency in them, and praise of them. All which things are nothing else but the heart exalting, magnifying, or glorifying God; which, as I showed before, God necessarily approves of, and is pleased with, as he loves himself, and values the glory of his own nature (Edwards, Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Made the World).


We must not interpret this delight in the manifestation of his own glory as a wistful and frustrated desire in the divine being. This desire will not be thwarted by the sinfulness and treachery of his creatures. By his decree he has assured that there will always be a people for his own possession who will live to the praise of the glory of his grace. The rest he leaves to their well deserved condemnation for their rebellion and hostility against him, all to the praise of his glorious justice.


Calvinistic Evangelism-Chapter Eight-The Attributes of God

Before we begin to talk to people about God, it is important that we know what the Bible teaches about his nature and attributes. The modern church has almost completely lost touch with the biblical doctrine of God and the evidence of that ignorance is clear in the results it has produced in our anemic doctrinal instruction and in our unbiblical practices. It is my belief that ignorance of God is the root of all error in our doctrine and practice. We will never return to biblical practices in evangelism unless and until we begin to understand something about the attributes of God.

The following is only a brief sketch of what the Bible says God is like. Volumes of no small magnitude have been written in an effort give us a glimpse of God’s glorious attributes, but even the most voluminous of them have scarcely scratched the surface. It is clearly beyond the scope of this study to provide a detailed study of this subject. If you are serious about studying God’s attributes, I would suggest you find and read the following books

A.W. Pink, The Attributes of God,

Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God,

C. H. Spurgon, The Attributes of God

William Bates, A Harmony of the Divine Attributes in the Contrivance and Accomplishment of Redemption

J. I. Packer, Knowing God

God is the Creator of All Things

Early Christians addressed God in this way, “Lord, you are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, . . . (Acts 4:24).  Not only do the Scriptures teach us that God has made everything out of nothing (Genesis 1:1); they also teach us that he has made everything for his own pleasure. He has made all things for himself. Like everything else in God’s creation, you were created to bring him pleasure. You were made so that, through you, God might demonstrate what he is like.

God Is Spirit

God is a spirit being. He does not have a body like ours. We cannot see him with our physical eyes. He cannot be confined in a single location. He cannot be attacked with physical weapons. He can neither die nor decay.  “God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)

God is Eternal

When the Word of God tells us God is eternal, we are not merely to understand that God will never cease to exist. We must also believe he never began to exist. This is not merely a deep truth; it is an unfathomable truth. Eternity cannot be measured in terms of time. Eternity is an entirely different dimension. God does not dwell in time nor is he limited by time. God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15).

God is an Infinite Being

The Bible teaches that God is an infinite being. By this, the biblical writers intended to convey the idea that God is without bounds or limits. In terms of space, the infinity [limitlessness] of his being translates into immensity. Jehovah, speaking through the prophet, Jeremiah, asked, “Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him? says the LORD; Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the LORD (Jer. 23:24). Consider again Solomon’s words during the dedication of the temple. He said, “But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built” (2 Chr. 6:18)?

In terms of the duration of God’s existence, infinity translates into eternity. God is without beginning and without end. Not only is God, as an inhabitant of eternity, present at the beginning of time and at the end of time; he is present at the beginning and end simultaneously.

God is Self-Existent

All other beings in the universe owe their existence to God, but he owes his existence to no one.  God is self-existent, self-sufficient and self-satisfied. He does not need anyone to sustain his existence or to add to his happiness. “He does not dwell in temples made with hands; Neither is [he] worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he gives to all life, and breath, and all things;” (Acts 17:24-25). We are totally dependent on him but, he does not depend on us at all.

God is the Ruler over All Creation

God is not the helpless, old man upstairs many imagine him to be. He is the almighty sovereign who rules heaven and earth. He is the only being in the entire universe who has the absolute right to do as he pleases. No one has the authority to call him into question for anything he has done. The Psalmist wrote concerning him in contrast to heathen idols, “. . .our God is in heaven; he does whatever he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). After the Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, had been humbled before the Most High God, he spoke these words,

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:

For His dominion is an everlasting dominion,

And His kingdom is from generation to generation.

All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing;

He does according to His will in the army of heaven

And among the inhabitants of the earth.

No one can restrain His hand  Or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’ (Daniel 4: 34-35).

God Is Unchangeable

God does not change. He is the same today as he has always been and will continue to be the same forever. His nature does not change; his character does not change; his demands do not change; his promises do not change. He cannot change for the better since he is already perfect; He cannot change for the worse since then he would cease to be perfect.

Everything else around us is subject to change, but God remains the same.  The psalmist wrote,

Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and your years will have no end (Psalms 102:25‑27).

He is not like pagan gods who are capricious in their decisions. His eternal plan needs no alteration. No change can surprise him, prompt him to alter his course, or cause him to abandon the blueprint he has chosen for his everlasting government.

Nothing is Impossible for God

God is able to do all his holy will.  Nothing is too difficult for him to accomplish. Through the mouth of his prophet, Isaiah, God asked, “To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing” (Isa 40:25‑26).

God is Everywhere

There is nowhere in the universe where God is not present. It is not simply that some of God’s essence is everywhere; it is that all of his essence is everywhere at once. Concerning God’s omnipresence, the psalmist wrote,

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and our right hand shall hold me (Ps 139:7‑10).

God Knows Everything

We can hide nothing from God. In the Psalm cited in the immediately preceding paragraph, the psalmist wrote,

For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me,’ even the night shall be light about me; Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to you (Psalms 139: 4, 11-12).

God knows every word we speak. He knows all our thoughts. Not one of our actions, however cleverly concealed from human observation, escapes his notice. Someone has rightly observed that secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven.

God is Holy

When, in the Scriptures, God makes himself known as “the holy one,” he intends us to understand that he is absolutely separate from sin. God is infinitely pure. “As God’s power is the opposite of the native weakness of the creature, as his wisdom is in complete contrast from the least defect of understanding or folly, so his holiness is the very antithesis of all moral blemish or defilement” (Pink, nd., 43)

God cannot sin. He cannot tempt his creatures to sin. He cannot overlook sin or smile with favor on it.  God is loving and gracious, forgiving a multitude of sins, but he cannot forgive sin at the expense of his holiness. Above everything else that God is, God is holy. He makes himself known as “the holy one.”

All God’s other attributes are affected by his holiness and retain the character they possess only because conditioned by it. “Without it, his patience would be an indulgence to sin, his mercy a fondness, his wrath a madness, his power a tyranny, his wisdom an unworthy subtlety” (Charnock, 1971, 451).         

Holiness is the brightest jewel in his crown. Above everything else that God is, God is Holy. “Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy his bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty” (Charnock, 1971, 450).

God is Just

The Scriptures reveal that God is righteous and will always do what is right. By this, they do not mean God conforms himself to a standard of equity imposed on him from outside. It is never right to conclude that God is unfair [unrighteous] because he did not act in a way that meets our standard of right and wrong. God is the standard of right and wrong and has pledged himself always to act like himself.

He cannot deem his creatures righteous unless we conform to the standard of righteousness he has revealed. This standard is strict and unbending; every deviation from it, however slight, must incur God’s displeasure. He will not overlook one sin or fail to punish even one act of transgression of his revealed will. The Bible describes him this way, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity” (Ps 5:4‑5).

To the church at Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness . . .” (Romans 1:18).  When we think of God’s wrath, we should avoid the idea that God flares out of control in a fit of rage.  Instead, we need to understand that God’s wrath is his settled indignation against all that fails to conform to his righteous standard.

God is Good

Once again, when the Bible tells us God is good, it does not mean he conforms to a subjective standard someone has imposed on him. In other words, goodness is not what we imagine it to be; instead it is all that conforms to God’s perfection. We know what good is by knowing what God is. God is good.

God’s goodness includes such virtues as love, mercy, graciousness. God acts for the benefit of his entire creation. We sometimes refer to this as the common grace or mercy of God.  Such acts of kindness should tend to bring sinners to abandon their sinful ways and return to God. The Apostle Paul asks sinners a pointed question, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Rom 2:4)?

Due to the defiance that characterizes the human condition, common grace is not sufficient to bring sinners to a saving knowledge of God. It requires a special display of God’s goodness to break sin’s tyrannical reign and introduce sinners to Christ’s kingdom.

God is Faithful

God can be trusted to keep his promises. Faith in God is nothing more and nothing less than a heartfelt conviction that God to keep his covenant promises to those who believe.

This is what the Bible tells us about God. “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Deut. 7:9). Time after time the biblical writers reaffirm this truth to their readers. We can trust God to do all he has promised. He will always be true to his Word.

Pink, A.W. , The Attributes of God, (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, n.d.), p.43.

Stephen, Charnock,  The Existence and Attributes of God, Grand Rapids: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1971), p. 451.


Calvinistic Evangelism–Introduction to Part Three–The Theological Foundation for Biblical Evangelism

Many of the leaders of the evangelical church have over the past several decades made a conscious decision to bow to the pressure of public opinion. Like babies who spit out their spinach because they prefer the taste of fruit, the members of their churches have insisted on “practical teaching” in place of sound doctrinal teaching, and their pastors have complied with their wishes. Their sermons have been largely textual or topical in nature with little, if any, attention to sound hermeneutical principles of exegesis [drawing out to the text what the human author and the Holy Spirit intended then it was written]. In most cases, expository preaching has become a relic of the past. Even those who have pretended to engage in such preaching have been more concerned to read their own theological traditions into the text than to engage in the arduous task of exegetical excavation that is necessary to interpret the text properly. The result has been a progressive weakening of the spiritual life of the church. Since the emphasis has been placed on the size of the church and not the spiritual health of the church, most churches have become anemic and bloated. What is usually referred to as growth is nothing but swelling.

The reality is that the church’s practice can never be right as long as its doctrine is defective and errant. It is no wonder the message and methodology of modern evangelism is so far removed from what we find in the biblical record since the church has departed so radically from the sound pattern of doctrine on which right practice must be based.

In his classic book, Thoughts on Religious Experience, Archibald Alexander has likened religious experience to the impression made by a signet ring on a wax seal. He argued that the reality of our religious or Christian experience depends on the accuracy of our understanding of biblical truth. To the extent that our understanding is flawed, to that same extent our religious experience will be flawed.  He wrote,

If genuine religious experience is nothing but the impression of divine truth on the mind, by the energy of the Holy Spirit, then it is evident that a knowledge of the truth is essential to genuine piety; error never can, under any circumstances produce the effects of truth. This is now generally acknowledged. But it is not so clearly understood by all, that any defect in our knowledge of the truth, must, just so far as the error extends, mar the symmetry of the impression produced (Alexander, 1841, 8).

If this is true in the life of the individual believer, it is no less true in the corporate life of the church. Our practice in regard to such matters as worship, evangelism, interaction with our culture, and Christian education will inevitably and invariably be determined by the impression God’s revealed truth has had on our minds. If we are at all consistent with ourselves, our message and methods will be a reflection of what we believe. It necessarily follows that no change will occur in regard to our evangelistic message and methods as long as our underlying doctrinal foundation is defective.

My purpose in this section of the book is to present what I believe is a correct understanding of the biblical doctrines that must underlie a biblical approach to evangelism. It will not only include those doctrines that directly impact the message we preach and the methods we use, but also those that provide us with a strong impetus to evangelize. It will include such topics as the attributes of God, his purpose in redeeming sinners and in the proclamation of the gospel, the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of the Scriptures, the nature and purpose of salvation, God’s purpose and grace, the nature and extent of the sinner’s fallen condition, effectual redemption, prevenient grace and libertarian free-will vs. effectual calling, the nature of faith and repentance, and the nature of biblical assurance.

I urge you to consider these issue with a Berean spirit (see Acts 17:11), making an effort to lay aside any preconceived ideas you may have received from your religious tradition and let every word be established by a careful, exegetical approach to our sole authority, the Holy Scriptures.

Alexander, Archibald, Thoughts on Religious Experience, (Philadelphia, Presbyterian Board of Publication 1841).


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