Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
~ Acts 17:29
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
~ Colossians 2:8-10
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
~ 1 John 5:7
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
~ Genesis 1:26
The Godhood of God, by Arthur W. Pink.
The Godhood of God. What is meant by this expression? Ah, sad it is that such a question needs to be asked and answered. And yet it does: for a generation has arisen that is well-nigh universally ignorant of the important truth that this term connotes. That which is popular today in the colleges, in the pulpits, and in the press, is the dignity, the power, and the attainments of man. But this is only the corrupt fruit that has issued from the evolutionary teachings of (more than 150) years ago. When Christian theologians (?) accepted the Darwinian hypothesis, which excluded God from the realm of creation, it was only to be expected that more and more God would be banished from the realm of human affairs. Thus it has proven. To the (twenty-first) century mind, God is little more than an abstraction, an impersonal “First Cause”; or if a being at all, one far removed from this world and having little or nothing to do with mundane affairs. Man, forsooth, is a “god” unto himself. He is a “free agent” and therefore the regulator of his own life and the determiner of his own destiny. Such was the devil’s lie at the beginning—“Ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5). But from human speculation and Satanic insinuation, we turn to divine revelation.
The Godhood of God. What is meant by the expression? This: the omnipotence 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 figurehead; that God is something more than a far distant spectator, looking helplessly on at the suffering that sin has wrought. When we speak of the Godhood of God, we affirm that He is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1Ti 6:15). We affirm that God is something more than a disappointed, dissatisfied, 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” (Act 7:48). 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 (Rom 9:21). (It is) 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” (Gen 1:1)—in solemn majesty, eternal, uncaused, self-sufficient. This is the foundation doctrine, and upon it all other doctrines must be built, and any other doctrine that 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 that 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” (Jon 2:9), 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” (1Co 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 that 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, (it is) 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 can 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 that 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 could determine 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’s attributes? The truth is that man is utterly incompetent for forming a proper estimate of God’s character 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 than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa 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 that is “enmity against God” (Rom 8:7). 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 unmade the evils, and then no necessity for the instruments to remove them. Ah, why are we so slow to learn that God’s ways 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 that 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?” (Job 11:7). No indeed. “Clouds and darkness are round about him” (Psa 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 only maudlin18 sentimentality. The faith of Christendom in this (twenty-first) 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” that the finite mind can understand, whose ways are pleasing to the natural man, a “god” who is altogether “such an one as” (Psa 50:21) those who profess to worship him, a “god” concerning whom there is little or no mystery. But how different the God that the Holy Scriptures reveal. Of Him, it is said (that) His ways are “past finding out” (Rom 11:33)…
The God of Scripture is absolutely 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 hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?” (Isa 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” (Dan 4:35). And so it is in the spiritual realm. One is born in a pious home and is brought up in the fear and admonition 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” (Act 13:48), while another is “ordained to…condemnation” (Jude 1:4). To whom He will God shows mercy, and whom He wills He hardens (Rom 9:18).
Faith upholds (a Christian) under all trials by assuring him that every dispensation is under the direction of his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings are appointed by Infinite Wisdom and designed to work for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength shall be afforded him according to his (need).—John Newton