THE INFINITE GOD: Orientation for Living!
How could it happen? His world was crashing down around him — his ministry for God was in jeopardy.
The young prophet had placed his hopes for revival and restoration of his beloved nation on the shoulders of Uzziah, Israel’s godly king.
And now suddenly, unexpectedly the king had died. His leadership, his influence, his personal example of godliness — these all vanished in an instant.
Isaiah’s hopes were in danger of being dashed on the perilous rocks of human frailty and transience. He was about to stumble because his vision had been focused in the wrong place.
But God upheld His servant, and Isaiah didn’t stumble. In the midst of personal crises, he lifted his eyes above earthly circumstances and human deliverers. He saw, perhaps for the first time and certainly with greater clarity than ever before, the King who is eternal and omnipotent — the One who is faithful to His word, who is not dependent on any man, and whose purposes cannot be thwarted.
But let the prophet himself tell you how it happened: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple” (Isa. 6:1). It was at that moment that Isaiah took his eyes off of the human king who had died and pointed his vision toward the divine King whose strength would not diminish, whose purposes would not change, and whose days would not end.
It was only after seeing the King of kings in all His majesty and glory that Isaiah was ready to experience revival within his own soul. In anguish he proclaimed, “. . .Woe is me! For I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5).
The truth the prophet experienced is timeless, crucial and inviolable. It is this. Men will only see themselves as they really are when they see God as He really is.
When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up — when he saw His holiness and glory (Isa. 6:3), then he saw himself and cried out, ‘Woe is me!.”
The standard for living — the ultimate platinum yardstick for life — is not to be found in things like philosophy, culture, family, religion, government, science, or even the Church. Each of these contain error. God’s eternal perfections are man’s only accurate standard for life. To the precise degree that a man sees God, he will see himself. And, conversely, if he does not see God, he will not see himself.
Here is the crux of the problem of the present moment in history — the bottom-line reason why the planet Earth is on a collision course with its Creator. Twentieth century man’s concept of God no more resembles the God of the Bible than a flickering candle resembles the sun at noonday. And so he does not see in himself or others the nobility, worth, dignity, and potential glorious destiny which God placed there when He created man in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27). Man does not know of his lost estate — of the rock from which he was hewn — that salvation is his most pressing need.
Someone has suggested that it is not particularly difficult to lead a person to salvation. The difficulty lies in leading a person to see that he is lost.
The Apostle Paul understood well the need to show man his own unrighteousness before he would respond to God’s righteousness. He used the first three chapters of his Epistle to the Romans to show men that “. . . all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and that, “… There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). He knew that men would not be interested in God’s free gift of eternal life unless they understood first that because of sin they were under judgment of eternal death.
It is impossible to see a person truly saved until he first realizes he is fully lost. He will never see his own unholiness until he sees God’s holiness — he will never take hold of God’s life preserver until he knows that he is in imminent danger of drowning.
The proud atheist illogically asserts there is no God; the faithless agnostic cautiously says, “I don’t know if there is a God”; and the impotent religionist irreverently speaks of God as “the man upstairs.”’ Unfortunately, even the true believer often tends to view God as a benevolent Santa Claus who is a giver of gifts and one who can be indiscriminately summoned for help in a crisis. Incredulously, many so live as to suggest that God exists for man’s glory — when in truth man, above all other beings, is privileged to have been created for God’s glory (Rev. 4:11).
How could this sorry state of affairs have developed within true twentieth century Christianity? The answer is not complex. Thousands of books are published yearly on How to Have a Happy Marriage, How to Raise Your Children, How to Have a Growing Church, How to be Successful, and related themes.
But true “success” comes from knowing God. And relatively little is written or preached or sung today about God, His essence, names, attributes and decree. The Church has become man-centered. For many, it is as though truths like “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36) and “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11) were stricken from the Bible. Satan has gotten the Church to major on minors — to get the believer’s eyes off the person of God and on to lesser matters. There is a desperate need for more sermons like Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which was so forceful, that the people grabbed the pillars of the church lest they fall into hell, and A. W. Tozer’s incomparable book, The Knowledge of the Holy.
The atheist may proclaim there is no God — he is wrong. The agnostic may say, “ I don’t know if there is a God” — he is indecisive. The religionist may speak of God as “the man upstairs” — he is misguided. The true believer knows that God exists — that He has manifested Himself in His Word. The task of the Church is to reveal the sovereign God high and lifted up, seated on His throne, in all of His glory. When that happens, the door to Heaven will have to open wide to accommodate the press of humanity who will be rushing to get inside.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS SELF-EXISTENT
When Moses was about to go down to Egypt to deliver the enslaved Israelites, he inquired of God, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?” (Ex, 3;13). God’s response was “… I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14). Literally God was saying,
“Tell them that the self-existent God who reveals Himself hath sent thee unto them.” The point God was making was graphic. The Egyptians were polytheists — they worshipped a multiplicity of gods. Their deities were fashioned by men’s hands. As a matter of fact, each of the plagues was directed against one of Egypt’s gods right down to Pharaoh himself. Since he was viewed as a god, his fnrstbom son would perish.
In contrast to the man-made gods of Egypt, it was the self-existent God who was sending Moses to deliver the children of Israel from slavery. All things in the universe owe their origin to a cause. All things, that is, except God. He, alone, is the uncaused cause — the self-existent One — without origin and therefore debtor to no one and nothing.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS ETERNAL
Not only is the God of the Bible self-existent, He is also eternal. There has never been an instant in the past when God did not exist. There will never be a moment in the future when the universe will be without the Divine presence, The Hebrew word olam conveys the idea of eternality or endlessness. And of this the inspired penman wrote, “. . . from everlasting [olam] to everlasting [olam],thou art God” (Ps, 90:2). Men need never fear that God is a transient god, that there may come a day when He will not be around to keep His promises or to help in time of need. God has always been — God will always be.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS IMMUTABLE
That which is mutable is subject to change, That which is immutable cannot change. The history of human kind is strewn with the wreckage of broken covenants. Nations, small and large, enter into agreements that are viewed as mutually beneficial. But with the passing of time, with the changing of circumstances, with new realities, agreements among nations often are no longer viewed as beneficial, and so agreements are broken. Words mean little, pledges are unkept, On the personal level, men and women enter into the union of marriage, They take vows. They promise to love, honor, and cherish ” ‘til death do us part.” But almost 50 percent of the marriages in America end in divorce. Commitment and fidelity to one’s word means little. In contrast, “God is not a man, that he should lie . ..” (Num. 23:19).
The certainty of Heaven for the believer rests upon the foundation of two things: God’s promise and God’s oath. Because God is immutable, His promise is sure, and His oath is certain.
The word, immutable, literally means that God is not a turncoat — He will not be a traitor. What His mouth has spoken, His right arm of power will perform. But let the writer to the Hebrews tell it in his own words: “That by two immutable things [God’s promise and God’s oath], in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation [encouragement], who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope [certainty of Heaven] set before us” (Heb. 6:18). Man is mutable — he changes. God is immutable — He changes not.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS IMMENSE
By that, it is not meant that God is large and in need of going on a diet. The doctrine of immensity properly understood means that God exists simultaneously in every part of the universe. There is not an inch of an endless universe where the divine essence or substance is not to be found.
King Solomon knew this truth well. In his prayer of dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, he besought God to dwell among His people in a specialized and localized sense within the holy of holies. And yet understanding God’s immensity, Solomon said, “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 built!” (1 Ki. 8:27).
The teaching that God dwells in all things (so worship the tree, or the river, or the mountain, etc.) is called pantheism and is false. But the teaching that God dwells all over an endless universe, simultaneously, is true.
And because He does, there is no hole so deep — no spot so far — no place so hidden but that God is there. What comfort to the son or daughter of the King to know of the Father’s abiding presence.
THE GOD OF THE BIBLE IS INFINITE
God’s infinity can best be understood by remembering that man is finite. By that it is meant that man has limitations — points beyond which he cannot go — heights to which he cannot soar. But concerning the Sovereign of the universe, the little chorus is correct: “God can do anything, anything, anything. God can do anything, but fail.” There is no point beyond which God cannot go — there is no height beyond which He cannot soar. There are no limitations on God; He is infinite.
He is infinite in wisdom, power, and presence. He is infinite in holiness, justice, and truth. He is infinite in love, grace, and mercy. He is infinite in goodness, longsuffering, and faithfulness.
If the philosophical cliche is to be really believed, “To thine own self be true,” well then, that is accomplished by contemplation on what God is like. For He alone is the highest good — the standard for knowing one’s self and the only exquisite balm to heal a sick and dying world.