Joel Beeke: The Calvinist’s Ultimate Concern

If we had to reduce Calvinism to one concept, we might be safest to echo Warfield, who said that to be Reformed means to be theocentric. The primary interest of Reformed theology is the triune God, for the transcendent-immanent, fatherly God in Jesus Christ is God Himself. Calvinists are people whose theology is dominated by the idea of God. As Mason Pressly says: “Just as the Methodist places in the foreground the idea of the salvation of sinners; the Baptist, the mystery of regeneration; the Lutheran, justification by faith; the Moravian, the wounds of Christ; the Greek Catholic, the mysticism of the Holy Spirit; and the Romanist, the catholicity of the church, so the Calvinist is always placing in the foreground the thought of God.”

To be Reformed is to stress the comprehensive, sovereign, fatherly lordship of God over everything: every area of creation, every creature’s endeavors, and every aspect of the believer’s life. The ruling motif in Calvinism is, “In the beginning God…” (Gen. 1:1).

In His relation to us, God has only rights and powers; He binds Himself to duties sovereignly and graciously only by way of covenant. In covenant, He assumes the duties and responsibilities of being a God unto us, but that does not detract from His being the first cause and the last end of all things. The universe is ruled not by chance or fate, but by the complete, sovereign rule of God. We exist for one purpose: to give Him glory. We have only duties to God, no rights. Any attempt to challenge this truth is doomed. Romans 9:20b asks, “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” God enacts His laws for every part of our lives and demands unconditional obedience. We are called to serve Him with body and soul, in worship and daily work, every second of every day.

To be Reformed, then, is to be concerned with the complete character of the Creator-creature relationship. It is to view all of life coram Deo, that is, lived before the face of God. As Warfield wrote:

The Calvinist is the man who sees God: God in nature, God in history, God in grace. Everywhere he sees God in His mighty stepping, everywhere he feels the working of His mighty arm, the throbbing of His mighty heart. The Calvinist is the man who sees God behind all phenomena and in all that occurs recognizes the hand of God, working out His will. [The Calvinist] makes the attitude of the soul to God in prayer its permanent attitude in all its life activities; [he] casts himself on the grace of God alone, excluding every trace of dependence on self from the whole work of his salvation.

The doctrine of God—a fatherly, sovereign God in Christ Jesus—is therefore the center of Reformed theology. R. C. Sproul puts it this way: “How we understand the nature and character of God himself influences how we understand the nature of man, who bears God’s image; the nature of Christ, who works to satisfy the Father; the nature of salvation, which is effected by God; the nature of ethics, the norms of which are based on God’s character; and a myriad of other theological considerations, all drawing on our understanding of God.” So Calvinists define all doctrine in a God-centered way. Sin is horrible because it is an affront to God. Salvation is wonderful because it brings glory to God. Heaven is glorious because it is the place where God is all in all. Hell is infernal because it is where God manifests His righteous wrath. God is central to all of those truths.

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Steven Lawson: The Attributes of God – Part 1 – Introduction

Feel free to join the study “The Attributes of God” by Steven Lawson.

What are the Attributes of God?

– The Asity of God – The Spirituality of God
– The Sovereignty of God – The Holiness of God
– The Omnipresence of God – The immutability of God
– God’s Truthfulness – God’s Wisdom
– God’s Grace – God’s Love
– God’s Foreknowledge – God’s Wrath
– The Righteousness of God
  • These attributes show us how God is.
  • The first thing that comes to mind when we think of God is what defines us
    • It shapes how we see the world
    • It shapes how we live in the world
    • If shapes how we see ourselves
    • It shapes how we worship
  • A Low view of God leads to a shallow way of worship

 

The Relationship of the Attributes

  • Each attribute of God is equal true of every person in the trinity
    • What is true of the father is also true for the son and the spirit
    • All three are equally truthful, holy, wrathful, wise …

These Attributes are eternally permanent qualities of God

  • No attribute can be gained or lost (Asity)
  • God was equally loving in the OT as the NT same as the wrath
    • There is no diminishing in the AT or NT
  • God is the same God from eternity past to the eternity present

These Attributes are all diving connected

  • Each attribute is a part of the whole
  • His wrath is holy wrath; his love is holy love …
  • There is no division in God himself
  • “The Simplicity of God” – God cannot be divided into parts
    • Compared to us humans, we are “complex beings”
      • We have got different parts, arms, legs, ears, eyes,
    • God is “simple” in the sense, that there is no division or separation of his attributes and his being
  • Each attribute we ascribe to God applies to all
  • Each attribute is absolute perfect in his being

Why are they Important?

  • Transcended worship
    • The higher the knowledge of God, the higher the worship will be
    • Our theology drives or doxology
    • The word “glory”
      • Intrinsic glory
        • All the attributes of God revealed, we cannot increase it, it is him wo was, who is, and will be
        • All the perfection of the eternal God made known
      • Ascribed glory
        • Our response to the Intrinsic glory
        • A higher view of the Intrinsic Glory leads to a higher form of Ascribed glory – the proper response
      • We were made to worship God
    • Humble living
      • The pride crusher
      • To see God lifted up
      • 1 Cor. 15:10 – By the grace of God I am what I am …
      • John 15:5 – apart from me you can do nothing …
      • 1 John 1:5 – The closer you are to the light, the more you will see your imperfections
        • In the darkness you look fine to yourself
      • Spiritual maturity
        • The more we know about Him, the more we will mature
        • Knowledge of God increases holiness
        • 2 Cor. 3:18 – We become what we look at
        • The more we are focused on God, the more we will be like him
          • If we are focused on the world we will be like the world
        • Effective ministry
          • The more we know, the more we want to witness and teach others
        • Personal encouragement
          • The more we know Him the more we can trust him
          • Spurgeon: The sovereignty of God is his pillow where he laid his head on at night
        • Personal conversion
          • The knowledge of God is the first step into the kingdom of God
            • You need to know something about God to be conversed
              • Something about the Love, Grace, Wrath and holiness of God
              • John 10:14, John 17:3, Php. 3:8, 2Pe. 3:18,