Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Nature of God

Over the years, I have read several works by Puritan authors and have enjoyed most of them. As expected, some writers are more challenging to read than others. For me, Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) is one of those who are easy to read and overwhelming with their insight. He pastored churches and much of his writings are sermons he preached. Burroughs was also part of the body which wrote the Westminster Confession (a "Westminster Divine"), though he was an Independent and not a Presbyterian.

Presently, I'm reading through his work "Gospel Revelation". This morning, I was completely overwhelmed by a section in that book. So, I thought I would share some of what I read today.

Let me begin by noting that the first two chapters of the book are sermons he preached on the verse "For His name alone is excellent" (Psalm 148:13; if you're interested, chapter 3 is his application from this verse; and I thought MY pastor was long-winded!). His first sermon is titled "Ten Points on the Nature of God". His second sermon, on the same text, is titled "Eight Additional Points on the Nature of God"! Yes, Puritans are extensive expositors!

In this second sermon, Burroughs is describing God's excellence and comes to this point.

"15. God alone is excellent in His operation, in His power, in the manner of His working. Though God gives a power to other creatures to work, yet God works in a different way from all other creatures."

You are completely off base if you believe those two sentences are all he has to say on this specific point! No, not Burroughs! He breaks down the matter of God's operation in the universe with five sub-points. I will list them below and provide a simple summary. However, the author takes a complete paragraph to discuss each one.

"First, God does whatsoever He pleases either in heaven or earth."

God is sovereign and is free to act or not act as He, not we, choose.

"Second, the power of God appears in that the Lord does the greatest and most difficult things as easily as He does the least and the easiest."

God acts with the same power no matter what He is doing.

"Third, God is excellent in all that He does. There is nothing that God does at any time but was decreed to be done from eternity."

Again, here we see His sovereignty as well as His providence. God's work has been prefaced by an eternal, unchanging plan (decree).

"Fourth, God is so far from needing any matter to work upon, or instrument to work by, when He does anything as there is no more required for any creature to be or work at any time when God would have it, but the alone act of God's will thus was from eternity."

For example, God did not suddenly decide to create the world. He felt no compulsion to do so. Rather, he decreed the creation of the world from all eternity yet performed that creation in time.

"Fifth, where God has done any work, all His works add nothing to Him."

For example, if we prepare a meal, that meal benefits us, it adds to us. Nothing God accomplishes adds anything to His nature for He is eternally excellent.

What a blessing it is to consider the excellencies of our God!

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