We were busy, in our preceding article, with a discussion of the significance (for us) of the concept, “truth”. We noted in that article that, generally speaking, we may speak of the truth in a metaphysical, ethical, and logical sense of the word. In this series of articles we are discussing the attributes of the Lord. Veracity, truth, is, therefore, also a virtue of the Lord. This implies that the Lord Himself is truth. Before calling attention to this attribute, however, as a specific attribute of God, we asked the question, “What is the significance of this concept for us?” What does it mean for us to speak and do the truth? And we concluded our preceding article by calling attention to the fact that for us the Lord is the truth in the objective, ontological sense of the word. He is Himself the absolute reality. In this connection we discussed the essence of sin, which is the lie, and noted that all men are liars. And, bearing in mind that God is the truth in the absolute sense of the word, we ended our article by referring to Christ as the truth and the Word of God, which is the Word of truth. Hence, objectively, the truth for us in the living God, revealed in Christ and in His Holy Scriptures.
Besides speaking of truth in the objective sense, we can also speak of it in the ethical, subjective sense. This also applies to us, to the question: What is the significance of the truth for us? Truth, then, is the harmony between our will and being and the only true God. We have already called attention, in our preceding article, to the fact that every man is a liar. He denies, in all his walk of life, the living God. On the other hand, we are children of the truth, live and do the truth, if in all that we do we reveal the only and absolute reality, the living God. This aspect of the truth emphasizes the harmony between our spiritual, ethical, conduct and the living God. This is what the Scriptures mean when they declare that we must speak the truth in our hearts. That God is absolute reality, who alone does all things for His Name’s sake and to glorify Himself, must live in our hearts and minds, must control us in all our activity—we ourselves must be in agreement with Him of whom and through whom are all things. Indeed, this implies that the truth is far greater in scope than the mere telling of a few facts, or a superficial, intellectual knowledge of the Scriptures. The truth must be in us—the living God must be enthroned in our hearts, must direct us in all our thinking and willing, must prompt us in all we think and do.
And, finally, in connection with the significance of the truth for us, we can also speak of the truth in a logical sense. This is the harmony between our thinking and speaking and the truth of the living God. Of course, we understand that this logical truth must be subordinated to the truth in the ethical sense of the word. In our speaking and thinking of the truth we must be controlled by the truth in our hearts. Even so, it is important that we understand that also in our thinking and speaking, we must conform ourselves to the Word of the living God. If we may not divorce the logical truth from the spiritual, ethical truth (which would imply a dead intellectualism), neither can we divorce the ethical, spiritual truth from the logical truth. The two are inseparable. Without the inner, experiential operation of the Holy Spirit no true knowledge of the Lord is possible; however, without the knowledge of the word of the Lord all true spiritual life is impossible. The Scriptures, the Word of God, present to us the true knowledge of things. The Scriptural account of creation, the world, of sin, heaven and hell, etc., is true. The world continually speaks the lie, also in the sense that they constantly would oppose the Scriptural presentation of the reality of things. The worldly institutions of learning, throughout our land and the world, are constantly creating the lie, undermining the Word, substituting for the Word of God the word of man, rejecting the truth as it is in God and in Christ Jesus and embracing that which is conceived in the heart and mind of man. Also the logical truth must characterize us. We must understand, see, and “know the things as they are presented to us in the Scriptures. We must study the Word constantly. We must conform ourselves to the Word of God in all our thinking and speaking. And, as we study that Word of God, we must embrace its truths with a believing heart; these truths must become part and parcel of our heart and soul; we must ever apply ourselves, through prayer and the knowledge of the Scriptures, to grow, spiritually, in all the grace of Christ Jesus, our Lord; and day by day it must be our striving that we reveal ourselves as the people and the party of the living God, that He may be glorified by us, and that we thus proclaim in all our walk and conduct, that God is the alone living God, worthy to receive all praise and adoration, now and forever. Then the truth, the truth of the living God will be in us, and God will be all in all, also in our own lives. And then the truth will have made us free. Believing the truth of the Scriptures, confessing our own sin and guilt and corruption, believing in and embracing the Lord Jesus Christ, experiencing in our hearts and minds, through the grace and Spirit of Christ, the love of the everlasting God, we shall be delivered from the shackles of sin and the lie and of darkness and be truly free, to experience, now in principle and soon in eternal perfection, the unspeakable bliss of the liberty of the children of God, once more to move about in the sphere of the living God, to love Him with all our hearts and mind and soul and strength and live unto the glory of Him who alone is the absolute reality and whom to know, in love, is everlasting life.
God Is Truth.
We would finally call attention to the concept, “Truth”, as it is specifically an attribute of God. God Himself is the God of truth. He is that, first of all, in the metaphysical, ontological, objective sense of the word. The Scriptures abound in passages to this effect. As such the Lord constantly speaks of Himself as the only true God, and that over against all idols which are vanity of vanities. ‘‘For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”—; “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship Him, all ye gods.”— ; “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy Name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God? But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not: They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not: They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not; neither speak they through their throat. They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.”— ; “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have I not told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed. Who hath formed a God, or molten or graven image that is profitable for nothing?”— ; “They have moved Me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” ; “And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering ,and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”— ; “He is the rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.”— ; “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”— ; “And we know that the Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”— .
Besides these several passages, which can easily be multiplied, the names of God also reveal Him unto us as the only true God. He is Jehovah, the I AM THAT I AM, the in Himself sufficient God, who owes His existence to nothing outside Himself, the Cause of all things yet Himself without cause, the Beginning of all things yet Himself without beginning, the Creator of all things but Himself uncreated. He is the I AM, who possesses the fountain of His eternal and infinite existence within Himself, who never increases or decreases because He is the God of infinite perfection. Moreover, He is the rock, God, the Almighty, the Most High, the Lord God of hosts, etc. God is His Name; the Names of the Lord are expressions of His being, tell us not only who the Lord is but also what He is; and He alone is the rock, Almighty, Most High, etc. He is the true God, because as God He is as He should be; He is exactly what His eternal and infinitely perfect Godhead implies; He is the absolute reality. All idols are vain; they have mouths but speak not, ears but hear not, noses but smell not, eyes but see not. Hence, they are vain, false, are not what they pretend to be or are purported to be. It is said of them that they can save, but they cannot save. God alone is God, the one only true God.
Secondly, God is the God of truth also in the logical sense. He knows all things, and, therefore, also from this point of view, lives continually in the reality of things. The reality of all things is constantly before Him. He knows, first of all, Himself. He knows Himself as the Triune God. He fathoms His unfathomable being from eternity to eternity; He knows perfectly His own bottomless Self; nothing which pertains to His infinite perfection is hidden from the Lord. As the eternal and absolute reality in Himself, He is everlastingly conscious of Himself, is also from this point of view the God of truth—all of His own infinite reality is eternally before Him, and He rejoices in Himself forevermore. Moreover, the Lord also knows all things. To this we have already called attention when we discussed the knowledge of the Lord. He knows all things, not because He knows them as they are, but because all things are exactly as He knows them. The existence of things does not determine His knowledge of them, but His eternal knowledge of all things determines their existence.
Thirdly, the Lord is the God of truth also in the ethical sense of the word. This is also everywhere taught in the Word of God. “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall not make it good?”—; “And also the strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for He is not a man, that He should repent.”— ; “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”— ; “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”— ; “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.”— . That God is the truth in the ethical sense implies that He always reveals Himself as He is, that there is perfect agreement between the Lord as the alone and absolutely good God and His revelation of Himself. This is true, for example, of all the works of His hands. The perfect creation at the dawn of creation proclaimed the fact that the Lord Himself is good, a light and that there is no darkness or death in Him. And the subsequent curse which rests upon all the works of God’s hands since and because of the fall of man loudly proclaims the truth that the Lord is the God of perfect and infinite goodness and righteousness. Besides this revelation of the living God in all the works of His hands, the Lord always manifests Himself in all His dealings with the children of men. Always He reveals Himself as the God who loves Himself as the God of infinite and eternal perfections. It is for this reason that He comes to all men with the inexorable command that they love Him with all their heart and mind and soul and strength. Never can the Lord act differently or reveal Himself otherwise. He loves Himself and therefore demands this love of all men. And because He loves Himself He will bless them who bless Him and hate and curse those who hate Him. This wrath will, therefore, ever abide upon the sinner. It will abide upon the sinner because He is the holy Lord of infinite perfections and goodness. And it will abide upon the sinner because He is Jehovah, the I AM, the unchangeable God, with whom is no variableness or shadow of turning. And because He is the unchangeable Jehovah He loves and will love unto all eternity the people whom He has known eternally in love in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And as that unchangeable Jehovah He is also the faithful covenant God who keepeth covenant forever, whose faithfulness reaches unto the clouds and whose mercy is from everlasting to everlasting upon those that fear Him and are the called according to His purpose. Such is the blessed import of the truth that our God is the God of truth, who is the I AM THAT I AM. In Him we may and can trust; unto Him we may and can flee for refuge; upon His word we may and can rely. He, who is in Himself the true God, will surely remain true unto His people whom He has known for His name’s sake. To deny them would imply a denial of Himself. But, for God to lie is impossible. Blessed is the man who, therefore, trusteth in the Lord, who has that God of Jacob for his refuge. That man is blessed and shall be blessed forevermore.
The omnipotence of God we would define as that perfection of the Lord whereby He can do all things in harmony with His being and will. His is all the power and might and the dominion. Consequently, nothing can resist or change Him in the execution of His sovereign will and counsel.
Beautiful is the presentation of the Lord’s omnipotence by the late Dr. H. Bavinck in his Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 11, 222-224, and we translate: “The sovereignty of God reveals itself finally in His omnipotence . . . Scripture never and nowhere limits the power of God. Already in the names El, Elohim, El Shaddai, Adonai, the idea of power appears upon the foreground. Moreover, He is called ”El gadhool wenoora,” before whose face no one can exist, Deut. 7:21 f.f., “Abhir yisrael”, Is. 1:24, “haeel chaggadhool hagebboor”, whose name is Jhvh Zebaoth, Jer. 32:18, “ammits suah”, Job. 9:4, “kabbir”, Job 36:5, “yezzuz wegibboor”, Ps. 24:8, “adoon kurios” Matt. 11.25, Rev. 1:8, 22:5, i.e., the Lord, the possessor, the ruler, who possesses authority and supreme majesty: the King who into all eternity rules over all things, Ex. 15:18, 29:10, II Kings 29:15, Jer. 10:7, 10 etc., but is especially King over Israel and as such rules over it, defends and leads it unto salvation Num. 23-21, Deut. 33:5, Judges 8:23, I Sam. 8:7, Ps. 10:16, 24:7, 48:3, 74:12, Is. 33:22, 41:21, 43:15, etc., and likewise in the New Testament is the “megas Basileus”, Matt. 5:33, I Tim. 6:15, cf. Rev. 19:16; “pantokratoor”, II Cor. 6:18, Rev. 1:8, 4:8, 11:17; “monos dunastees”, I Tim. 6:15; who possesses both, the eksousia, archee, potestas, the right, authority, and the competence, Matt. 28:18, Rom. 9:21, and dunamis, kratos, potentia, the fitness and the power to act, Matt. 6:13, Rom. 1:20. But the omnipotence of God also appears from all His works. The creation, the preservation, and the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, nature with its ordinances, the history of Israel with its miracles preach loudly and plainly the omnipotence of God. Psalmists and prophets repeatedly return unto these great deeds and use them unto humiliation for the proud and comfort for the believer. He is strong in power, Is. 40:26; creates earth and heaven, Gen. 1, Is. 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 18, 48:13, 51:13, Zach. 12:1, maintains their ordinances, Jer. 5:22, 10:10, 14:22, 27:5, 31:35, forms rain and wind, light and darkness, the good and the evil, Amos 3:6, 4:13, 5:8, Is. 45:5-7, 45:16. He renders dumb and enables one to speak, kills and makes alive, redeems and destroys, Ex. 4:11, Deut. 32:29, I Sam, 2:6, II Kings 5:7, Ex. 15, Deut. 26:8, 29:2, 32:12, I Sam. 14:6, Hosea 13:14, Matt, 10:28, Luke 12:20. He has exclusive power over all things, so that nothing can resist Him, Ps. 8, 18, 19, 24, 33, 104; etc.; Job 5:9-27, 9:4 ff., 12:14-21, 34:12-15, 36:37. Nothing is too wonderful for Him, all things are possible by Him, Gen. 18:14, Zach. 8:6, Jer. 32:27, Matt. 19:26, Luke 1:37, 18 :27; He can make of stones children of Abraham, Matt. 3:9. He does all his good pleasure, Ps. 115:3, Is. 14:24, 27, 46:10, 55:10, and none can summon Him, Jer. 49:19, 50:44. And, above all, His dunamis (power) is revealed in the works of redemption, in the resurrection of Christ, Rom. 1:4, Eph. 1:20, in the operation and strengthening of faith, Rom. 16: 25, Eph. 1:19, in the distributing of grace above what we pray and think, Eph. 3:20, II Cor. 9:8, II Pet. 1:3, in the resurrection at the last day, John 5:25 ff., etc. And this power of God is finally also the source of all might and authority, of all power and strength in the creatures. From Him is the dominion of men, Gen. 1:26, Ps. 8, the authority of the magistrate, Prov. 8:15, Rom. 13:1-16, the strength of His people, Deut. 8:17, 18, Ps. 68:36, Is. 40:26 f.f., the strength of the horse, Job 39:22, the violence of thunder, Ps. 29 :4, 68:34, etc. In one word, His is the power, Ps. 62:12, and unto Him must be ascribed the power and the strength, Ps. 96:7, Rev. 4:11, 5:12, 7:12, 19:1.”—thus far the quotation of Dr. H. Bavinck. The beauty of this passage lies exactly in the fact that this eminent theologian quotes so profusely from the Word of God. And this, by the way, characterizes the Dogmatics of Dr. Bavinck throughout. These passages from the Holy Scriptures certainly reveal unto us the scope and glory of the omnipotence, almighty power of the Lord. We will continue, the Lord willing, with our discussion of this virtue of God in our following article.