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The One True God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2020 12:01 am

The One True God

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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March 30, 2020 12:01 am

What you believe about God matters for eternity. Today, R.C. Sproul begins a study of God’s nature, character, and attributes using the Westminster Confession of Faith.

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Hello Emily web host of Renewing Your Mind. The coronavirus is changing the way millions of us around the world live our lives but we want you to know that our commitment to you has not changed. We are still here, committed as ever to bring the truth of God's word to bear against the backdrop of this fallen world. The antidote for the uncertainty and fear that is gripped so many is found in Romans 12 to which is where we draw the name of our program. The apostle Paul calls us not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds is Dr. RC Sproul often said, for God's word to be in our hearts, it must first be in our minds.

So as we pray for you, we would ask that you pray for us as we continue to feature timeless encouragement through the timeless teaching of Dr. scroll, and others. We also invite you to visit Lincoln your daughter work and access our library of hundreds of video teaching series that are now available to you at no charge.

Stay with us now as we bring you another edition of Renewing Your Mind. We live in a generation that says God doesn't care what you believe as long as you believe in something, whereas the Bible says that matters eternally.

What you believe and that God himself commands to be worshiped properly and that God himself despises religion that is of human invention welcomes you Renewing Your Mind as we begin a new era say that our aim is to help you know what you believe in what you believe it and as we just heard Dr. RC Sproul indicate what we know and believe about God is vital when we define God in a way that suits our own whims.

We engage in idolatry.

So this week, RC turns to one of the historic confessions of the church. The Westminster confession of faith document which draws from Scripture in a systematic way to clearly and specifically describe God and his attributes. The title of chapter 2 is of God and of the holy Trinity, let me read a little bit of section 1 before I begin to comment on it. The affirmation in section 1. Is this there is but one only living and true God who is infinite in being and perfection. A most pure spirit invisible without body, parts or passions, immutable, immense, eternal and comprehensible Almighty most wise, most holy, most free, most absolute; but we already have enough before we get the; that warrants a massive volume in the study of the doctrine of God because what we have seen here is a list of the various attributes that are ascribed to the being and to the character of God and before we explore these attributes. Let me say by way of introduction that I often in teaching the doctrine of God in seminary. As I've also said here in St. Andrews. When people ask me what is distinctive in the reformed theology of reformed theology's view of God, and I would say will basically bottom line. There really is very little if anything distinctive in terms of the reformed theologians understanding of the being and character of God.

Let me just say it another way, reformed theology basically has no distinctive aspects to its doctrine of God that would differ from other denominations and other schools of theology. Having said that when people asked me what is the most distinctive characteristic of reformed theology. I will answer by saying it's our doctrine of God not of course, one does not have to be very astute to have just heard what certainly sounds like a latent contradiction and since I'm not given to dialectical theology. Let me take a moment to explain this apparent conflict that I've just articulated. On the one hand, when we look at the attributes that are listed in the confession here that are ascribed to the being of God. They don't differ in any significant way from what we would call Catholic Christianity the same attributes would be affirmed by Lutherans by Methodists by Episcopalians by Roman Catholics, and so on. So there's nothing unique in the particular attributes that are set forth here.

But what is basic to reformed theology is its theocentric city. That is when we look at theology in a systematic way. We start with the doctrine of God and what we ascribe to the being and character of God, then, becomes the norm, and the test for every other doctrine that we study so that our doctrine of justification are doctrine of sanctification are doctrine of sin are doctrine of Christ.

All of these things are always ordered and controlled by our understanding of God and that's not always the case with other theologies.

Other theologies will affirm at the beginning, the same attributes of God. But then later on in their study of theology.

They forget that they affirmed one thing over here and they don't carry it over to apply it to their understanding of some other article of faith. And what I'm saying about reformed theology is self-consciously reformed theology keeps coming back and testing its doctrine by its understanding of God himself. And if that is the case that it's of critical importance that we come to a proper understanding of who God is and what he does so without the introduction let's look then at some of these things in particular that are affirmed about God. We read is beginning.

There is but one only living and true God, not for us in our day.

That does not seem like anything earthshaking to get such an initial affirmation as these statements that I've just read, but when you think of the history of religion, you realize that in antiquity to believe in one God was radically different from what was customary in the ancient world know some people argue that monotheism the idea of one God really began with the Egyptians, but even there, if you look at the Egyptian religion we find more than one deity involved in it and historically. It's a generally granted that the first really developed form of monotheism on the stage of of world history was that's introduced by Old Testament Judaism were at the heart of the Jews religion was this affirmation that God is one the same, which was recited regularly by the Jew, the pious Jew says here oh Israel, the Lord our God is one now again critical scholars have even argued that in Old Testament religion. The affirmation of monotheism was something that came very late. Some would say it didn't come until after the exile someone saved game in the eighth century prophets.

Some would say it came with Moses. But most of the critical scholars won't allow it at all, before Abraham historic Orthodox theology sees the affirmation of one God, on the very first page of the Bible where it is said in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and we see God as the God of creation who reigns over all aspects of his creation. Now if you study ancient forms of polytheism, you will see what happens. There is that you have usually a god or goddess for every significant aspect of human life. There will be a god or goddess of the harvest there be a God of war, a God of love, a God of peace, a god of beauty, a God of wisdom, and so on, and you have all these job descriptions in the division of labor among the various deities you have a God for every eventuality. So is sort of covered from the cradle to the great one of the things we also understand about ancient polytheism that though people had religious devotion to these multitude of deities. There was deeply rooted in the cultures of Greece and in Roman others, a sense that even though they had the stories of their gods. They had this idea that the stories themselves were myths and not sober history.

One of the things we find about the biblical expression of Yahweh is an Old Testament religion is already demythologized that at the heart of biblical theology is the central affirmation that this one God of home they are speaking, in whom they are worshiping is not mythic and character, but he is as is affirmed here. One only living and true God with the God who reveals himself in history is tied to history in the sense that he's not a creative fiction from the imagination of the people who are inventing myths and legends and so on. But there is this affirmation that this God is real, that he corresponds objectively to reality. He is as Francis Schaeffer said the God who is there and the affirmation is there is only one God only one living God, and only one true God. So at the beginning of the theology here of the confession. There is this affirmation that is on a collision course with political correctness in our day in the United States because at the very beginning we find a strong on ambiguous affirmation of exclusivity, one God, not many one true God. There are multitudes upon multitudes of false gods but false gods are not alive. They're not real they are, of course, by definition, not true, and in fact the history of the Old Testament is many and many ways the history of the battle between monotheism and idolatry and idolatry by definition is the worship of that which is not God. Idols are those things which are made and fashioned by human hands.

We remember how the profits would not only critique the idea of the idols that people worship but would actually mock their idolatrous religion because they think what could be more absurd and for somebody to take a piece of stone chisel into the shape of an animal or human brain polish that image pickup the shavings from the floor and then get down on the floor on your knees and start talking to this dumb and deaf piece of stone that you created with your own hands, look at beast more foolish than that well, but that's what we do. The human heart is so naturally opposed to the true God. As we seen in Romans one at the beginning of this course that our most basic primordial sin is found in our propensity to idolatry to reject the true God to suppress the knowledge of the is given of himself and make a substitution whereby we exchange the glory of the living God for the glory of the creature. The four-footed animal, the beast, and so on, and we exchange the truth for a lie and serve and worship the creature rather than the creator. Now that distinction right there is absolutely foundational to Judeo Christianity, namely the distinction between the creator and the creature and to worship anything less, than the God of creation is to worship a creature and the Bible will talk about how God manifests his power in the storm but the storm is not God but these other religions will have the God who is the storm or the God who is the son. The son is the creature that God makes enter worship that creature rather than the one who made that creature is to be involved in. I Dollar Tree now again, one God, that we live in a world where there are a plurality of religions and consequently a plurality of views of God and we were taught in the 19th century through comparative religion.

The metaphor of the mountain where there really many ways to God as some more direct than others. Some are by more circuitous route, but ultimately all religions believe the same thing and end up in the same place again that's radically antithetical to every page of the Scriptures, the whole history of redemption or is the history of the conflict between worship of the true God and worship of false idols and substitutions now.

One other point that I wanted to get here is that we have deeply rooted innocence in our skin is almost comes with a smallpox inoculation when work, children, and that is the idea that God doesn't care what you believe, just as long as you believe. Doesn't matter what you believe, just as long as you believe something, whereas the Bible says it matters eternally. What you believe and that God himself commands to be worshiped properly and that God himself despises religion that is of human invention.

I heard somebody giving an exposition of the warnings of the prophet Amos to Israel about the day of the Lord were the people were looking forward to the day of God's visitation and Amos warned them saying not so fast. The day of the Lord is a day of darkness.

No light in it and then he begins to explain how God is responding not to the worship of the physicians, not to the religion of the bales not to the Philistine idolatry. But how God responds to Israel at this point in history where God says, I despise your feast. I despise your solemn assemblies.

Your music has become repugnant to my ears.

I won't listen to your prayers.

He's talking about the religion of his own people, which had become so corrupt though on the outside. Externally, it looked like Judaism. In reality it had fallen into idolatry. And as I listened to this guy on the radio. I agreed with every single word that he was saying. That's right, it's there was my program and slips there for a while I start to get agitated and that is you writing a letter but that's where we are. We have this idea that it doesn't matter what you believe is a larger sincere we can be sincerely wrong and we can be sincerely false and what it is we're doing were supposed to have a correct understanding of God as he is revealed himself to us and we are to respond to him the way he commands that we respond to him. He's not honored when people worship a cow in India that does not honor God, that's repugnant to God and you say well they're doing the best they can.

There being religious, there being religious, of course, to bring religious the Bing idolatrous and that's what God despises and so the affirmation the beginning is only one God only one living God rest her dad or lay never lived in all and I was just this morning talking to somebody who was quoting Nietzsche's famous statement. God is dead and was trying to respond to that and that's what is think about that for a second if God wants lived and has since passed away one that passed away was not God so if there is a God. One thing I guarantee you he's alive because God wants. He is can never not be he is eternal. As we will see. So will need to talking about a God who once was and is no more is not talking about God. That's what you call a self refuting assertion of any case there's one God only one God, one who's living and one who is true. Everything else is false, and the worshiping of a false God again is not something that God overlooks, but something that calls down judgment upon us because of what we learned in chapter 1 of his manifestation of who used his eternal power and glory and the change that into a false god does not exonerate us but adds to our guilt before him. Now we begin to see statements about his attributes before we get into the attributes we just take a moment to find an attribute of God. When we say that we do study the attributes of God were talking about the traits or the characteristics or qualities of those dimensions by which we define who God is but a soonest we begin to attribute certain things to God speak of his attributes. We enter into very dangerous territory because we have a tendency to think of God as the sum total of his attributes. We think of him as being 5% eternal 5% immutable 5% omniscience. Throw in a little bit infinity and we add up all of these attributes and get a calm posit being and then we pick and choose from those attributes, the ones that we like and the ones that we don't like we leave there on the cafeteria counter, but the statement that reformed theology makes all Christian theology makes beginning is that is not so much that God, as attributes, but that God is his attributes and that God is simple, not simple in the sense of easy but simple in the sense of not being complex made up of all kinds of parts you look at me and you see two eyes and nose to ears and mouth to legs and arms and so on, and I have a pancreas and lungs in the heart and all these different pieces and parts of me and Sony put them all together and you get who I am.

But that's not the way God is made up, we might say that God is omniscient and then say he's immutable, will discuss these attributes separately later. But God's immutability is an omniscient immutability and eternal immutability and omnipresence immutability and omniscient immutability while at the same time.

His omniscience is an immutable omniscience and eternal omniscience so that each attribute is fully manifest along with each other attribute. At the same time so that you can never justly or without great peril pit one attribute of God against another, and that's what we have to understand before you begin to look at these individual attributes or characteristics that are set before the first they say God is infinite in being and perfection and that means simply that in all of his attributes. Everything that can be contained in that attribute is contained to the absolute degree that God is not almost omniscient. He's not almost on the present is absolutely and perfectly, completely and totally omnipresent and completely totally and absolutely omniscient is perfect in being and in power with respect to each of those individual attributes. The firm God is perfect beyond our comprehension. Which is why any attempt we make to conjure up a God of our own falls short today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. RC Sproul has shown us how the Westminster confession of faith helps us avoid grave errors in our doctrine of God.

I was not familiar with this historic confession until much later in my Christian life I was taught frankly to be somewhat skeptical of it. But as I read it and I saw the Scripture that backed up what this document said, I realized it wasn't made up out of whole cloth. These were wonderful and well-trained theologians who comprise this document and over the years I've learned to treasure it and I think you will too. To this in Dr. Spruill wrote a helpful line by line exposition of the Westminster confession is titled truths we confess will send you the hardback edition.

When you give a donation of any amount to leader ministries to give your gift just go to Renewing Your or call us. Our number is 800-435-4343 the importance of the confessions and creeds that has been lost by many of the church today. The truth of the matter is that the Westminster confession is help the church for hundreds of years to remain faithful to biblical Christianity.

We need to remember that what we believe about God drives everything else in our lives. I think this book will be a great addition to your library. It is a handsome hardback edition that is titled truths we confess you can call us with your donation of any amount at 800-435-4343 or you can find us online at Renewing Your, but here's a preview of what will hear tomorrow as we continue our study of God and his attributes. The best we can ever get when were talking about a transcendent, eternal, infinite being is language that describes him in ways in which he is like no metaphor, no analogy can ever gain or grasp in its forms.

The attributes of God can be explained by words but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to know if we hope you'll join us as we continue the series tomorrow on renewing

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