Series 1 Episode 8

Relational Attributes

Now we move on to his Relational Attributes – What we know of God in light of general creation. How could God be omnipresent without others to experience that presence? How could God be omnipotent without a world through which divine influence is felt or measured against? (This is what we know because God created)

Omnipresence

Definition - (God’s way of being present – that he is fully in all places, at all times, all at once though He does reveal Himself differently, in different ways. So we can experience God’s presence differently in different places and so we can invite God into a worship gathering and while we know He is omnipresent we still acknowledge that we want him here and near in a special way – in an uncommon way)

Scripture:

  1. “…He is not far from each one of us...” (Acts 17:27-28)

  2. ““Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill the heavens and the earth? declares the Lord.” (Jerimiah 23:24);

  3. “A very present help in tight places.” (Psalm 46:1);

  4. ““I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit” (Isaiah 57:15)

  5. ““Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? (Jeremiah 23:23)

 

Stimulate: Is Hell the absence of God?

From Tradition

  1. This Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is not circumscribed in any place, nor is He less than the heaven; but the heavens are the works of His fingers, and the whole earth is held in His grasp. He is in all things and around all. (Cyril of Jerusalem Catechetical lectures 4.5)
     

  2. For this purpose then, the incorporeal and incorruptible and immaterial Word of God comes to our realm, howbeit he was not far from us before. For no part of creation is left void of Him. He has filled all things everywhere, remaining present with His own Father (Athanasius, incarnation of the Word 1.8)
     

  3. He has fitted and arranged all things by His wisdom, while He contains all things, but He Himself can be contained by no one: He is the Former, He the Builder, He the Discoverer, He the Creator, He the Lord of all; and there is no one besides Him, or above Him (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 2 ch. 30 par 9).
     

  4. He remains as He is, and He is everywhere in His entirety. He comes when He is manifested, and departs when He is concealed. But whether concealed or manifested, He is present with us as light is present to the eyes both of the seeing and of the blind; but it is felt to be present by the man who sees, and absent by him who is blind. In like manner, the sound of the voice is near alike to the hearing and to the deaf, but it makes its presence known to the former and is hidden from the latter. (Augustine letter 137. Chap 2 par 7)
     

  5. John Wesley: “In a word, there is no point of space, whether within or without the bounds of creation, where God is not.”
     

Devotional thought:

As we’ve said – the study of the attributes are an opportunity for devotion and so I’d like to show you what reflecting on God’s omnipresence has led some to believe before.
 

“And we do not ask the question, “How shall we go to God?” As though we thought that God existed in some place. God is of too excellent a nature for any place: He holds all things in His power and is Himself not confined by anything whatever… We know that the holy scriptures make mention of eyes, of ears, and of hands, which have nothing but the name in common with the bodily organs and what is more wonderful, they speak of a diviner sense, which is very different from the senses as commonly spoken of. For when the prophet says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law,” or, “The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.”… no one is so foolish as to suppose that the eyes of the body behold the wonders of the divine law… When our savior says, “He that has ears let him hear” anyone will understand that the ears spoken of are of a diviner kind…. If you wish further to learn from the sacred writings that there is a diviner sense than the senses of the body you have only to hear what Solomon says, “You shall find a divine sense.”  (Proverbs 2:5) (Origen, Against Celsus, book 7 chap. 34)
 

AW Tozer reads Hebrews and in particular is reflecting on how the Jewish Old Testament worship was a shadow of real heavenly truths and in The Pursuit of God Tozer says this concerning Hebrews chapter 12: “May we not safely conclude that, as the realities of Mount Sinai were apprehended by the senses, so the realities of Mount Zion are to be grasped by the soul? And this not by any trick of the imagination, but in downright actuality. The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the lifegiving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing.”Both Origen and Tozer are saying the same thing – God is accessible but we need divine senses. So let us pray for divine senses that we might perceive God more and more. I do want to take a moment to show you a spectrum of various beliefs concerning God’s omnipresence because not everyone is in agreement here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Implications:

  1. God is near us

  2. God does not have to move to get to us

  3. God is accessible always

  4. God has always been present and always will be present in every moment of our lives

  5. Motivation to not sin
     

Omniscience (God’s way of knowing)

Definition and Discussion:

This one gets a little more complicated but there’s different ways that Christians categorize the potential and possible knowledge of God. Here’s how I understand the Traditional view of God’s knowledge:

  1. Eternally Actual (God does not “remember” or “call to mind”)

  2. Eternally perfect (Does not increase, decrease, or end).

  3. Direct and immediate (He does not meditate or process information).

  4. Includes foreknowledge (What will happen)

  5. God’s foreknowledge does not determine events. He knows it because He sees it not because He does it. 
     

Scripture:

  1. How great is our Lord! His power is absolute! His understanding is beyond comprehension!(Psalm 147:5)

  2. Read Psalm 139:1-18

  3. God knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8)

  4. We cannot advise God nor can we understand His thoughts and His ways (Romans 11:33-34)

  5. God Can tell the future before it happens (Isaiah 46)

  6. God alone is the source of wisdom (Job 28)

  7. God knows the secrets of every heart (Psalms 44:21)

  8. God sees all (Psalm 139:3-6)

  9. God numbers the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30)

  10. God knows when every bird dies (Matthew 10:29)

  11. God knows every heart (Romans 8:27)

  12. God knows how men will respond to certain things if those things were to take place even though they may not (1 Samuel 23:11-23)
     

There seem to be two main heretical views
 

Open Theism: God chooses to create a world with an open future where He knows possibilities but learns certainties. In other words – God doesn’t know for sure what the outcomes of certain actions will be. He doesn’t know how humans will respond. He takes risks.
 

Process Theology: This view is more of a philosophy and not necessarily a religion. God is by necessity bound by time and metaphysical principles (God learns and changes and also cannot intervene supernaturally).
 

From Tradition

  1. For He Who knew all things before they were, saw that in the future man would go forward in the strength of his own will, and would be subject to corruption… (John of Damascus exposition of orthodox faith book 2 chapter 10)
     

  2. …nothing, whether actually done or only intended, can escape the knowledge of God (Justin Martyr the first apology ch. 12)
     

  3. Those things that are not actual are true in so far as they are in potentiality; for it is true that they are in potentiality; and as such they are known by God. (Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica First Part, Question 14. Article 9)
     

Implications:

  1. We can’t trick or fool God

  2. God knows us more than we know us

  3. God is the ultimate guide

  4. God is to be trusted even when it doesn’t make sense
     

Omnipotence (God’s way of influencing)

Definition: The perfect ability of God to do all things that are consistent with the divine character. God can do all that God wills to do.
 

From Scripture:

  1. “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” (Revelation 1:8)

  2. No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand. (Isaiah 40:15)

  3. Is anything to hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14)

  4. Nothing is to hard for the Lord! (Jeremiah 32:17)

  5. With God everything is possible (Matthew 19:26)

  6. He cannot deny who He is (2 Timothy 2:13)

  7. God cannot tell a lie (Hebrews 6:18)

  8. God cannot be tempted to do wrong nor can He tempt others to sin (James 1:13)
     

From Tradition

  1. For He is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some things for the very reason that He is omnipotent. (Augustine, City of God)
     

  2. "Just as we hold that God is incorporeal and omnipotent and invisible, so likewise do we confess as a certain and immovable dogma that His providence extends to all things" (Origen, Genesis, Hom. 3)
     

  3. Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen. He either allows it to happen or he actually causes it to happen. (Augustine, Enchiridion, Chapter XXIV)
     

From Reason (Two Things God Cannot Do: Nonsense & Contradicting His Nature) 


It is not offensive to suggest that God cannot do that which by definition can’t be done.
 

You might hear this from time to time – If God is all powerful, can he sin? If God is all powerful, can He create a rock that’s too heavy for Him to lift?
 

“His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words, 'God can.' It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”

(C.S. Lewis, the Problem of Pain)
 

Chaos, illogical nonsense and absurdities – if somehow possible would seem more of a weakness than order and soundness.
 

God cannot do that which would contradict himself. He cannot sin, cannot lie, cannot deceive himself, cannot die, etc. If He could do such things, it would also be a weakness and therefore not a reflection of omnipotence.
 

Implications:

  1. There is nothing too hard for God

  2. There is nothing too big to pray for

  3. There is no one too lost for God

 

Thanks for joining us as we’ve discussed God’s relational attributes. In our next episode we’ll look at his interpersonal and moral attributes. What we know about God because he created us and what we can know about God because he created us to have free will.

Waite Park Church is a multi-generational, neighborhood church that strives to share the life Jesus promised in our community and around the world.

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